Bishop Ha said that the anniversary celebration is also a time to be grateful to God for offering priests, bishops and lay leaders, and to be joyful for future Church leaders who are now receiving training. He also urged those in attendance to pray for a deeper faith so that we can meet the current challenges in Hong Kong.
Hong Kong (AsiaNews/Sunday Examiner) – On October 3, the Holy Spirit Seminary of Hong Kong and the Holy Spirit Seminary College of Theology and Philosophy in Aberdeen held a live-streamed launching ceremony kicking off a year-long series of activities to celebrate the 90th anniversary of the seminary and the 50th anniversary of the college.
Celebration activities will include priests sharing experiences on Facebook of their seminary training or theology issues starting from November. Talks will be organised at three different parishes starting from January, as well as an open day and a thanksgiving Mass scheduled for October 2 and 3 next year.
The ceremony at the chapel of the Holy Spirit Seminary started with a prayer service led by John Cardinal Tong Hon, apostolic administrator of Hong Kong, Auxiliary Bishop Joseph Ha Chi-shing, rector of the Holy Spirit Seminary, and Jesuit Father Robert Ng Chi-fun, principal of the seminary college.
Cardinal Tong, Bishop Ha, Father Ng together with the teaching staff of the seminary and the college together planted a Delonix regia, a species of tree commonly found in Hong Kong in the lawn outside the chapel. It was chosen to symbolise a faith deeply rooted in the city for generations. It usually blossoms in May and will serve as encouragement for students of the seminary and the college who sit annual examinations that month to conclude their academic year.
Cardinal Tong expressed his appreciation of the seminary and college for training priests and lay leaders for decades. He noted that, planted before the image of the Sacred Heart Jesus, the tree reminded those present to live out Jesus’ love and forgiveness.
Bishop Ha said the anniversary celebration is also a time to be grateful to God for offering priests, bishops and lay leaders, and to be joyful for future Church leaders now receiving training. However, he urged those present to pray for more deeply-rooted faith so that we can face the present challenges in Hong Kong.
Father Ng said the seminary and the college started at different stages of Church development. He said 90 years ago, the Jesuit community was entrusted with training young people from Hong Kong and South China to become priests. On the other hand, the College of Theology and Philosophy was established at a time when the laity could play an active part in teaching following the Second Vatican Council. He said the 21st century would also be an era of laity, as he could see more lay people than seminarians. “Thank God for the vocation and response of so many lay people. May God finish what he started, as we often say during the priestly ordination ceremonies,” he said.
The Holy Spirit Seminary dates back to 1924 when Archbishop Celso Costantini, the first nuncio of the Holy See to China, held the first episcopal conference in Shanghai, setting up 14 regional seminaries for multiple apostolic vicariates across the country, including Hong Kong.
The foundation of the South China Regional Seminary in Aberdeen was laid in 1930 and it opened the following year. It was directly under the Congregation of Propagation of Faith (Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples) of the Holy See and was managed by Irish Jesuit priests.
The seminary played an especially important role in the development of the Chinese Catholic Church in the second half of the 20th century. Due to political turmoil in China, the Regional Seminary in Hong Kong accepted a large number of seminarians from the mainland and nurtured many of the bishops there.
In 1964, the seminary was handed over to the Diocese of Hong Kong and was renamed Holy Spirit Seminary.