Tuesday, March 01, 2016

Welcome to the China Bulletin - March 2016

Happy New Year of the Monkey 

Why do the Chinese Celebrate Chinese New Year?
Chinese New Year, also known as Spring Festival in China, is China’s most important traditional festival. It is also the most important celebration for families, and a week of official public holiday. This year, the Chinese across the world celebrated the New Year of the Monkey on 8 February. The Festivities are so important that the Diocese of Hong Kong exempted its faithful from fasting on the Ash Wednesday which was on the third day of the Chinese New Year, but of course with an emphasis on taking up other acts of penance and charity as a substitute for fasting. 

Although there are many interesting legends and stories explaining the start of the Chinese New Year festival, the main two reasons for the festival are:

To celebrate a year of hard work, have a good rest, and relax with family
To wish for a lucky and prosperous coming year
Chinese people believe that a good start to the year will lead to a lucky year. Chinese traditionally celebrated the start of a new year of farm work, and wished for a good harvest (when most were farmers). This has now evolved to celebrating the start of a new business year and wishing for profits and success in various vocations. 

Unfortunately not everything went well with the Hong Kong people during this Chinese New Year. On the night of the Lunar New Year, massive violence broke out in some parts of the city of Hong Kong, marring the New Year festivities.  In the wake of violent clashes between local groups and the police in Mong Kok on February 8, which continued into the daylight hours of the following morning, the diocese of Hong Kong sent a notice to all parishes saying that it does not believe that deep-seated social issues can be settled with violence.

“In no way can we justify any form of violence, nor can we agree that deep-seated social issues can be settled by these means,” said Cardinal John Tong in his message to the faithful. 
The main traditional celebrations of the festival include eating reunion dinner with family, giving red envelopes, firecrackers, new clothes, and decorations.

Chinese New Year is a time for families to be together. Wherever they are, people come home to celebrate the festival with their families. The New Year's Eve dinner is called "reunion dinner", and is believed to be the most important meal of the year. Big families of several generations sit around round tables and enjoy the food and time together.

Marking the great event, Pope Francis had sent greetings of the Lunar New Year to the president of China, Xi Jinping, and the people of China. Pope Francis said, “On the eve of the New Year, I wish to convey my best wishes and greetings to President Xi Jinping and to all the Chinese people. And I wish to express my hope that they never lose their historical awareness of being a great people, with a great history of wisdom, and that they have much to offer to the world.”

Gearing up for the World Youth Day...

The youth delegates from Hong Kong for the International Claretian Youth Gathering in Lodz, which will be celebrated prior to the World Youth Day in Krakow in July 2016, gathered together for a two-day formation camp at Mui Wo in Lantau Island on 20 and 21 February. Fifteen youth and two animators will participate in the events in Poland.
During a Taize prayer session 
The two-day camp put the youth through numerous team building and spiritual formation activities. Fr. Alberto Rossa shared his experiences with the Youth Ministry in Argentina and urged the participants to channel their energy and passion to be better persons and better Christians to their families and friends. Eucharistic celebrations, adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, Taize prayer and a movie on the life of Blessed Mother Teresa of Kolkotha were some of the highlights of the event.
The beautiful landscape of Mui Wo and good weather conditions created the perfect ambience for the two-day event. The group will continue to gather every month for a time of prayer and sharing in preparation for the WYD.
Fr. Alberto recollects his years as a youth minister in Argentina 

Our Visitors

Chinese New Year is a time of family reunion and visiting friends and relatives. We were overwhelmed with lots of friends making their way to this outlying island to visit us. We couldn't thank enough Fr. Tom Peyton, MM and friends for coming over all the way from Ngau Tau Kok and some from Shenzhen! 
Fr. Tom Peyton, MM (second from left) and friends visited Mui Wo during the Chinese New Year 
During the years when the Claretians first arrived and spent their time studying Chinese language, Fr. Tom welcomed them in his parish. He was the mentor for the first Claretians in Hong Kong. He is 85 years old and serving in Christ the Worker Parish in Ngau Tau Kok.

"Discerning the will of God..."
Our Lady of Perpetual Help Chapel in Tai O is perhaps the farthest part of the diocese of Hong Kong. Geographically, Macau would be closer to Tai O than the Hong Kong Diocesan Centre. The Chapel is a part of now non-functional primary school building. Holy Eucharist is celebrated in the Chapel on every first Saturday of the month. 
Antonio and Angela with their three children in Tai O 
One Sunday afternoon in February while we were busy fixing some furniture in the school building, there came a family - Antonio, his wife Angela and their three children from Taiwan. Antonio is a merchant and Angela is a retired teacher and counsellor by profession. Once retired from their professional life, the couple faced the question "What next?" Being Catholics, they asked themselves "What does the Lord want us to do at this stage of life". So they decided to deepen their understanding of the Catholic faith and thus enrolled themselves for four years of Theological studies. They are involved in marriage and family counselling and hope to serve the Catholic community. They are finishing their studies and says, "we are trying to discern God's will for us"!   
Returning to their Alma Mater
On the same day another group of people, all of them from the neighbourhood came in to the old school building and seemed more than joyous to move around and click pictures. They were students of this Catholic Primary school some 40 years ago and were so happy to return their alma mater. Although none of them profess Christian faith, they have only good memories of the past. Many of them left their contact details with us for whatever help the missionaries might need here! 

Lay Missionaries in China 
Meeting Tricia Bølle was nothing accidental! She is a Lay Missionary from the US, passionate about imparting the Gospel values among the youth and young adults in Asia. She speaks Mandarin and teaches in the Mainland. She has founded St. Francis Xavier Lay Missionary Society with the vision of  serving the Church in Asia in an effort to draw all people, particularly young adults, into a deeper and more meaningful relationship with God.

We heard of her coming to Hong Kong with her friend.  Together with a group of youth from the Diocesan English Youth (DEY), we had planned for a dinner together. This was the first time I was meeting her. On that evening, I happened to reach the place much ahead of the scheduled time and thought of having a coffee and wait for the others to come. There in the coffee house, I come across two non-Chinese ladies and sensed that they might be the people we had fixed for the dinner, and yes they were! 
Irisa and Tricia (3rd & 4th from left) of St. Francis Xavier Lay Missionaries Society
with the DEY group
Tricia Bølle
On the next day, early in the morning Tricia fetched a ferry and came over to Mui Wo to attend the 7.30 Chinese mass! Then she met Fr. Alberto, someone who is equally passionate about the mission in China. To read more about her work and their Missionary society, take a look: http://www.laymissionary.org/home

DEY Core group gathering
The Diocesan English Youth (DEY) core group members gathered in Epiphany Church for the evaluation and planning of the group. DEY organises monthly adoration in Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church in Wanchai. During the Lent, they also had a day of pilgrimage and Way of the Cross to the Trappist Monastery in Lantau Island, attracting a lot of catholic youth from various parishes in Hong Kong. 
DEY Core group members in front of Epiphany Chapel, Mui Wo
Fr. Siby Kadumthodu, a Claretian Missionary from the North East India paid a visit to Hong Kong. He was on his way back to India from the Philippines where he worked as an intern as part of his Post Graduate studies in Education. 
Fr. Siby Kadumthodu in Po Lin Buddhist Monastery in Lantau Island 

Vatican display in Taipei museum

The National Palace Museum in Taiwan is holding a special exhibition entitled, Treasures from Heaven: A Special Exhibition of Artifacts from the Holy See, featuring beautiful works of art from the Vatican.

Organised by the Vatican Office of Liturgical Celebrations in conjunction with the museum, the exhibition, billed as one of the largest in the world, opened on February 3 and will run until May 2.

Among the pieces on display is the tiara presented to Pope Pius IX by Queen Isabella II of Spain in 1854. It shows three levels that symbolise the three authorities of the pope as the father of kings, governor of the world and vicar of Christ.
Chalice with paten of Blessed Pope Pius IX (r. 1846-1878)
A chasuble, stole and maniple (liturgical vestments) worn by Pope Pius XI featuring golden embroidered damask silk with gold filaments and coloured silk portraying scenes from the life of St. Francis of Assisi is also on display.
The Procession Cross of St. Pope John Paul II
The exhibition includes the Vatican Mandyllion (Face of Christ), symbolising that dialogue is possible only when the truth is expressed in the face. Another exhibit features the first texts translated into Chinese by the early missionaries, the first examples of inculturation and Sinicisation of the faith.
Jeweled closure of Servant of God Pope Benedict XIII (1724-1730)
The texts also range from natural science and philosophy, to calendars and mathematics, which had a great impact on China’s development. The exhibition is divided into six sections: The Holy See, The Liturgical Year, The Altar, The Pope and History, The Sacraments and Catholicism Spreads East.

Together, they represent the close relationship between the liturgy of the Church, the pope and the history and development of Catholicism.