“Now be pleased to bless the house of your servant, that it may continue forever in your sight; for you, Sovereign LORD, have spoken, and with your blessing the house of your servant will be blessed forever.” – 2 Sam 7:29
Shatin, Hong Kong. 19 June 2018 would remain a day of thanksgiving for the Claretian Community in Hong Kong. It saw our dreams come true when Superior General, Fr. Mathew Vattamattam, CMF blessed its community house in Shatin, Hong Kong and celebrated Mass together with the members of the Claretian communities of both Hong Kong and Macau, their friends, and associates.
Claretian Missionaries have a rich history of its mission in Mainland China. In the 1920s, the Holy See asked the Claretians to begin their missionary endeavours in China with the administration of the South China Regional Seminary [which later on moved its location to Hong Kong and was renamed as the Holy Spirit Seminary]. For some reasons, the Claretians could not take up this mission. From early 1930s the missionaries were involved in diverse ministries in China – with Catholic Schools, a “School for little doctors”, a hospital, social assistance, and sacramental ministry.
But with the formation of the People’s Republic of China in 1949, the missionaries were forced to flee from the region and the last batch to leave the mission was on 1 November 1952. Many of them travelled to Hong Kong and continued with their language studies, with the hope of returning to the missions, but which never materialised. The missionaries went back to their own countries and some of them went to Japan and the Philippines.
Years later, the Claretians returned to East Asia in 1994 and came to Taiwan with the objective of serving the Church in China again. But its desire for service to the Chinese Church was materialized with the missionary presence in Macau and Hong Kong.
Ever since its establishment in Macau in 2006, the ministries of Claretian Publications and Pastoral Bible Foundation insisted on making available Bible and biblical literature affordable for the Chinese readers. Over 120,000 copies of the Chinese Daily Gospel were distributed in China in 2018. A new translation of the New Testament in Chinese is already published and the Old Testament is nearing completion.
Claretians came to Hong Kong in 2007 and had their initial years for learning the language in the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Later they began to serve in the dioceses of Macau and Hong Kong. Pastoral ministry in parishes provided the necessary base for reaching out to the poor and most needy in the Mainland – people affected with Hansen’s disease. During these years of visits and service to these people in the peripheries, the greatest treasure the Lord has provided the missionaries with is a committed group of lay associates.
A lay-movement called Candle Light is a charity organisation established in 2016 under the aegis of the Claretians in Hong Kong and Macau and this group takes care of the social welfare projects in China and rest of Asia: Many welfare projects already being handled by this charity group such as help for the leprosy affected in China, Sponsoring the educational needs of over 200 poor children in Nepal, Assisting several projects of the Claretians and the Franciscan Sisters of St. Elizabeth in the Philippines and formation of “Claret Band” — a music band is in the pipeline.
Looking back over the past twelve years of Claretians presence in Macau and Hong Kong, we have nothing but to thank the Lord for His providence and guidance. It was often humbling experiences of we being evangelized by the people whom we are serving.
Blessing the new house Fr. Mathew Vattamattam reminded the gathering of our vocation to be “the light of world and sault of the earth”. And this mission takes shape in three ways – “through encounter with the risen Christ, through recognizing one another as brothers and sisters and as a consequence, partiality or favourtism of Christ for the poor”, said Fr. Mathew. He also requested the gathering to pray for the missionaries.
We raise our hearts in gratitude and hope that the new House in Hong Kong becomes a great impetus for all the missionary projects of the Claretians in Hong Kong and Macau.