Hong Kong (AsiaNews) - This Easter, 3,500adult catechumens in the Hong Kong diocese will receive the Sacrament of Christian Initiation (Baptism, Confirmation and Holy Communion) at various parishes at the Holy Saturday Vigil today, April 7.
In his Easter Pastoral Letter 2012, Cardinal John Tong of Hong Kong specially thanks priests, deacons, sisters and laypeople to offer their time and energy in teaching catechism. The catechists "not only carry out the mission of evangelization of the Church, but also strengthen their own faith," the 72-year-old bishop said.
According to the diocesan statistics of Aug. 31, 2011, there are 39 paid catechists and more than 1,500 voluntary catechists. Local Catholic population comprises 363,000 Chinese and 138,000 non-Chinese.
On March 3, Card.Tong stated evangelization as one of his pastoral concerns. "Certainly, the rise in the number of Catholics is gratifying, but the quality of their faith is equally essential," he said, hoping his faithful will progress both in the quantity and the quality of faith.
Card. Tong encouraged the new Catholics to grow in faith. He cited a middle-aged volunteer catechist who was baptized three years ago. The catechist was touched by the words of St. Augustine's words in the "Confessions": "Oh, too late have I loved thee,... too late have I loved thee." After baptism, the catechist lives a simple life, and he studied a course on catechetics and became a volunteer catechist. Now, he plans to study more to deepen his faith, the Easter message says.
Among the 3,500 catechumens, Janet Lo, together with her younger brother, are two of them. She told AsiaNews that she finds life, love and peace in the Catholic faith and is happy to promote faith to others.
Janet, who works in marketing field, said they have finished an 18-month catechism class and received anointment scrutiny liturgy (see photo) performed by Card. Tong and the visiting Bishop Franz-Josef Overbeck of Esssen during Lent.
"I especially like a phrase in the Prayer for the Year of Laity of the diocese that says: Love Life, The Gift of God," Janet said. Their search of faith was inspired by their mother's struggles with an illness some years ago. That experience brought her whole family closer to God. "My father, a Catholic, prayed hard with my mother in those difficult days. My mother got baptized and passed away peacefully."
"The experience inspired us to thank God and to respond to His call to become Catholics, like our parents," she said. She also thanked her alma mater, a Christian school that sowed the seed of faith in her heart during her schooldays.
* Annie Lam is a researcher at Holy Spirit Study Centre.