CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Sunday, 1 September 2019

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Hong Kong putting lay ministry
on the Chinese world map


HONG KONG (SE): At the closing Mass of a Conference on Sharing the Experience of Lay Ministry organised by Hong Kong diocese and involving people from the Chinese diaspora from all over the world, people undertook to prioritise the ministry of the laity in their lives, as well as being aware of issues affecting minority groups in society.

Over 150 people from the Chinese diaspora in 13 countries took part in a discussion-reflection forum held at the Caritas Oi Fai Camp, Cheung Chau, from October 29 to November 1.

While delegates from overseas visited a variety of organisations and parishes in Hong Kong between October 26 and 28, local delegations are scheduled to pay return visits to each of the areas represented by overseas visitors during November.

At a commissioning Mass celebrated by the bishop of Hong Kong, John Cardinal Tong Hon, on November 1, all present promised to care for minority groups in society and always act as an instrument of peace.

At the commissioning ceremony, the cardinal presented each one with formation material encouraging them to go out and minister as lay people when they return to their own communities.

Cardinal Tong shared about the development of lay ministries in Hong Kong.

He said that the Second Vatican Council, and especially some of the documents directly related to the ministry of the laity, have had a far-reaching effect on people in his diocese.

The cardinal added that the diocese has put a lot of effort into developing courses to nurture the sense of involvement of the laity in the liturgy, develop their social concern and deepen the sense of mission among people.

He also spoke of the work of evangelisation as being a big challenge.

Cardinal Tong said that many pressing social issues have come to the fore in Hong Kong during the past 10 years that have motivated people to address issues in society from the perspective of their faith, which is an essential part of both lay ministry and evangelisation.

Reflecting on the Church in the mainland, Cardinal Tong added that we must recognise the developments that have taken place. 

However, he noted that as the Holy See does not yet having any diplomatic relationship with Beijing, he believes this puts a lot of pressure on lay people to play their part in the life of the Church while keeping their heads down.

Cardinal Tong invited people to respond to the new evangelisation initiative of Pope Benedict XVI that was discussed so fully at the recent Synod of Bishops in Rome, by giving witness to Jesus Christ and the love of God for people in their daily lives.

He pointed out that this is a vital part of the proper ministry of the laity.

The week-long programme at Cheung Chau paid particular attention to the nature of lay ministry as well as recent developments.

On October 29, Father Peter Choy Wai-man said the Second Vatican Council responded to the needs of the times by affirming that the priestly, prophetic and kingly ministries in the Church are not only for priests, but also for the lay people.

He explained that the priestly ministry of the ordained priest and that of the laity are like the head and body of Jesus Christ, in the sense that both parts are indispensable and have to coordinate with each other.

Sister Maria Goretti Lau explained that the Second Vatican Council focussed on the role of the laity as the salt of the earth and the light of the world, as well as its role in bearing witness to God in the secular world.

Victoria Yeung Yuk-lin, who teaches lay ministry at the Holy Spirit Seminary, explored the relationship between Church communities and lay ministry.

Stanislaus Lee Tze-chung, a biblical scholar, said that the role of priest is an hereditary position in the Old Testament, but in New Testament terms refers to a much boarder ministry.

He said lay people have to bear witness to the truth in society, with particular reference to people who do not know of Jesus Christ.

In a sharing session at the conclusion of the seminar, a delegate from Taiwan spoke of the richness of the documents from the Hong Kong Diocese Synod in 2000, which contain many helpful suggestions in terms of lay ministry.

He added that he believes some kind of formation system is a must for promoting the ministry.

Other people added that Chinese Catholics should be united in their concern for the difficulties of the mainland Church.

Chan Ho-ming, from Notre Dame parish in Ma Tau Wai, who is involved in youth formation, said the testimony of the lay people worldwide shows a multi-faceted aspect of lay ministry.

Chan added that the values of the secular world affect how young people in Hong Kong accept their faith and parishes need to pay more attention to the formation of their young people.

Chau Tse-can, from Vietnam, admitted that there are not many formation activities for lay people in his country and the Church in Hong Kong can help Chinese communities in other countries with that role.


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