Hong Kong (AsiaNews) The Trappist Abbey of Our Lady of Joy on Lantau Island has its new Abbot. Dom Anastasius Li received the solemn blessing from Mgr Joseph Zen Ze-Kiun, Bishop of Hong Kong. Abbots and Abbesses from around the world and about 600 faithful took part in the solemn ceremony.
"Monastic life is important to our church life," Bishop Zen said. "It is a special charisma [and] it is hoped that the Abbey will share its Benedictine spirituality with the local church."
During the ritual ceremony Bishop Zen presented the new Abbot with his abbatial ring, mitre and staff.
Dom Anastasius Li is the second Chinese Abbot of the Trappist community. The community itself was elevated to the status of Abbey from that of Priory in 1999.
Born in 1961, Dom Anastasius joined the Lantau monastic community in 1991. He made his solemn vow in 1996 and was ordained priest in 2001. He was elected in November of last year but took over only on January 22 when he replaced Clement Kong who resigned for health reasons.
At the time of his election he said that he wanted the Abbey to continue to be a witness of contemplative life to the local church and the people of Hong Kong.
The Trappist Abbey of Our Lady of Joy is located in Peng Chau, one of the least inhabited parts of Lantau Island.
Founded in 1954, the original Priory was affiliated with the Monastery of Holy Joy near Beijing.
With Mao Zedong's takeover of China and the start of persecutions, the monks fled to Sichuan. Here they were attacked by the Communists and many died a martyr's death.
The few survivors made their way to Hong Kong where they founded the small community on Lantau Island. The island itself was largely uninhabited then and monks were able to devote themselves to the contemplative life as well as farming and animal husbandry.
Now much of the island's life revolves around Hong Kong's Chek Lap Kok International Airport and many of its inlets are developed.
The Abbey receives many young people and priests experiencing periods of intense spirituality. It is made up of 24 monks of different nationalities.