CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Sunday, 1 September 2019

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Farewell to longtime missionary to Hong Kong Church

Hong Kong (SE): On the afternoon of August 8, Father Antonio Garaventa returned to our heavenly Father to receive his eternal reward.

The Italian priest from the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions (PIME) was 84 years old.

On May 15, after 58 years working for the Church in Hong Kong, ill health forced him to return to Italy when he took a turn for the worse after an operation at St. Teresa’s Hospital.

However, further surgery  was necessary on one of his feet.

Born in Genoa in 1928, Father Garaventa was ordained for his local diocese in 1953, shortly after which he joined PIME and was assigned to Hong Kong, arriving on 26 October 1954.

After Cantonese studies in Cheung Chau, he was assigned to Chuk Yuen (Wong Tai Sin), then to Shamshuipo, Cheung Sha Wan and Lantau Island.

He was in charge of the Tai O district from 1964 to 1970 and then worked at St. Margaret’s parish, Happy Valley, and at Holy Family parish in Choi Hung.

However, his longest stint—from 1973 to 1994—was in Sheung Shui. He can be considered the founder of Mother of Christ parish.

After five years at St. Alfred’s parish in Shatin (1995 to 2000), he retired to the PIME House, as his health deteriorated requiring several operations. Even in retirement he continued to work; hearing confessions at Rosary parish and celebrating the Eucharist every Sunday, but also making himself available for counselling.

He also put his mastery of Chinese to good use doing translation work as well as writing some moving stories of his own.

He published a book called the Seed of Consolation as an encouragement people in developing their faith lives, handing it out freely to his many visitors, who appreciated and admired his talent.

 In his pastoral work, he paid frequent visits to Catholic families, constantly maintaining contact with people in order to spread the good news of the Lord, instruct catechumens and administer the sacraments. 

Let us give thanks to God for sending Father Garaventa to Hong Kong and for the his great missionary contribution. 

Let us also pray for him, asking God to give him his truly deserved eternal rest!

A memorial Mass for Father Garaventa will be celebrated by John Cardinal Tong Hon on August 17, at 7.30pm in Rosary parish, Tsimshatsui. There will be a second Mass celebrated on August 24, at 7.30pm at Mother of Christ parish, Sheung Shui

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