Tuesday, December 01, 2015

Welcome to the China Bulletin December 2015

"I have many people in this city..." - Acts 18:10

Claretian Missionaries have been present in Hong Kong from 2007 onwards. And we began to serve in the diocese of Hong Kong from 1 November 2011. Four years later, on 1 November 2015 when the diocese assigned the parish of Epiphany in the Lantau Island in Hong Kong to the Claretians, we couldn't but help to see the Divine Providence in the whole process.
Some historical notes from the Booklet, "Footprints..."
on the History of Claretian Presence in China 
There is a painful yet beautiful history behind the presence of the Claretian Missions in China. The Missionaries first came to China way back in 1930s and developed a mission centre in the valleys of the famous Yellow Mountains in Anhui Province. 
Anhui Province in China 
Over a period of 20 years, the mission centre flourished with more than 25 missionaries from Spain and Italy serving in the region and they had established schools, clinics and chapels in the region.

Soon, the region was raised to the status of a Vicariate and Msgr. Fogued, the pioneering Claretian in China was appointed as the Apostolic Prefect of Tunxi.

Many more seminarians back in Spain were preparing themselves to go to China as missionaries, one of them being Blessed Rafael Briega, who was martyred in Barbastro during the Spanish Revolution in 1936. 

During his years in the seminary, he was also learning Chinese and even wrote letters to the missionaries in Chinese. In 1992, Saint Pope John Paul II beatified Rafael Briega and 50 other Claretian martyrs of Barbastro. 
But in the early 1950s, with the changes in the political scenario in China, all the foreign missionaries had to leave the country. On 1 November 1952 the last batch of Claretians left China, with a 'hope to return soon'!
The beatification of Rafael Briega was boost for the Congregation to reopen its mission in China. And this new impetus resulted in missionaries reaching Taiwan in 1994. The missionary presence was extended to Macau in 2006 and to Hong Kong in 2007.
Pilgrims from Taiwan, Macau and Hong Kong in Wongsaan,
the pioneering mission centre of the Claretians in China in April 2015
Claretians in Macau and Hong Kong with their collaborators in the Mission
In 2011 when I was taking my first assignment in the diocese, the Vicar General asked me for a date on which I could make myself available. I was due for my two months of vacation and I said, I would be available from November that year. Thus, the diocese appointed me as the Assistant Parish Priest in St. Benedict Church on 1 November 2011.
The Claretian Community in Hong Kong with Fr. Paco, Delegate Superior (in red shirt)
On 1 November 2015, at Mui Wo in Hong Kong
Four years later when the discussions were on regarding taking up of the new parish in Lantau, once again, the date happened to be 1 November. And now we love to believe that it was not just a mere coincidence that on 1 November 2015, the Claretians establish their community in Hong Kong. Our pioneers left China on a November 1 and perhaps All Saints whom we honour on that day, prays for the missionaries in China and make this date a special one for us!

-" Do not be afraid, go on speaking... for I have many people in this city" (Acts 18: 9-10) 

Exploring Mui Wo

The past month of our life in Mui Wo was spent exploring the region and the people. The refreshing greeneries, challenging hiking trails, enticing stretches of beaches and delectable sea-food are just a few highlights of this area in the south of Lantau Island. In contrast to the busy and fast-moving life style of Hong Kong, South Lantau in particular is calm and serene. 
On Sivermine Beach, Mui Wo

You scale the mountains and feel being on top of the world! 
Our Lady of Joy Abbey - the Trapist Monastery in Tai Shui Hang also comes under the territory of the parish.
The Trapist Monastery Chapel 
There is also a community of the Missionary Sisters of Our Lady of Angels in Mui Wo.
Sisters of the Missionaries of Our Lady of Angels
at Mui Wo Parish with Fr. Jose and Fr. Alberto

Our Lady of Joy Abbey - the Trapist Monastery in Tai Shui Hang
Our Lady of Joy Abbey Chapel
Holy Family School, Peng Chau 
The parish has two mass centers - Our Lady of Perpetual Help Chapel in Tai O and Our Lady, Queen of Peace Chapel in Peng Chau. The Holy Family Catholic Primary School in Peng Chau is celebrating 50 years of its service to the people of the region this year. 

Talks on Infancy Narratives in Advent

Fr. Jose Marques addresses the Parish Community in Mui Wo 
Prior to the season of Advent, Epiphany Parish has organised two lectures on the Infancy Narratives in the Gospel by Fr. Jose Marques, renowned Professor in Theology. The talks in English were held in the Epiphany Church in Mui Wo, on the last two Sundays of November. The talks on the historic and cultural setting of the Infancy narratives provided us with a deeper understanding of the mystery of incarnation. Yes! we have done a bit of homework as we walk into the season of Advent!

Fr. Jose Marques is a Claretian Missionary from Spain who served in various parts of the world - African countries, Japan, Korea and now based in the Philippines. He was a Professor in University of Santa Thomas and in ICCLA in Manila in the Philippines. He was visiting the Claretian Community in Macau and obliged to our request to address our parish community in Mui Wo, Hong Kong. 

Perpetual Help School - Tai O

One of the famous tourist spots in Hong Kong, Tai O is part of the newly created Epiphany Parish of South Lantau. Tai O became popular for the presence of the Chinese White Dolphins which can still be spotted on good weather conditions... Many in Hong Kong fear that the construction of the Macau -Hong Kong bridge and the expansion of the International Airport will drive these lovely creatures away from the Hong Kong waters. 

The Fishing Village of Tai O 
An areal view of the Tai O Village
The small Chapel and the school building in Tai O are not utilised well as the school had been closed for more than 15 years and the parishioners are just a few. Once in a month a few parishioners from Mui Wo accompany the priest to Tai O to celebrate the Holy Eucharist in the Chapel. Hence, a better utilisation of the facility to develop it as a centre for Bible studies and retreats is a vision we have in mind for the Centre in Tai O.
Perpetual Help Chapel and School in Tai O 
Fr. Alberto and Fr. Ezakias in front of the Perpetual Help School and Chapel

Donated furnitures 
More Furniture! Thanks to AIJESDA! 
And the vision could soon be actualised as some of our friends have arranged a lot of furniture donated to the Church, which can now furnish the empty class rooms of the school building. We need to make some essential repair and renovation work and our dream would soon be a reality! 

News from our Publications

The Bibles printed in China reach destinations all over the world. In November this year, we have helped in sending two containers of Bibles and Bible Diaries in French and English to Cameroon. The Bibles are printed in Amity Press, Nanjing in China. 

Translation of the Old Testament into modern Chinese 
After the publishing of the New Testament in Chinese with Lectio Divina, we are moving ahead with the project of the translation of the Old Testament and this turns out to be a monumental task, particularly because of the nuances and differences of the language in the Mainland China and in Taiwan, Macau and Hong Kong. Take a look at the sample page of the editing:
Introduction to the Book of Judges
More to come! Watch out for a series of comic books in Chinese, telling the stories of the Bible for kids. Fr. Jijo, Director of the Claretian Publications in Macau and his team are busy on the project! 

Christmas greetings from Mui Wo!

We missionaries in Mui Wo
wish all our readers 

a Blessed Christmas 
a joyous New Year 2016 
Fr. Jose Marques, Fr. Jose, Fr. Alberto, Fr. Ezakias