Easter in Tai Po: seniors and children embrace Christ’s love
Over 70 adult catechumens will be baptised in the Easter Vigil: children on Easter Sunday and seniors on the Sunday of Divine Mercy. For pastor and PIME missionary Fr Bonalumi, "The grace of the Jubilee brought many people to the faith”. The "best evangeliser" in the parish is a woman who survived suicide, and “met Jesus in hospital”. This year, some 3,200 baptisms should be performed in the diocese.
Hong Kong (AsiaNews) – The "best evangeliser" in Tai Po’s Catholic community is a woman who survived suicide. “She met Jesus in hospital after her tragic deed. Thanks to a nun’s visit, she encountered the Catholic faith, and will be baptised during the Easter vigil along with dozens of other adults. This is a sign of God's grace,” said Fr Luigi Bonalumi, a missionary with the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions (PIME) and pastor at the Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Church in Hong Kong’s New Territories.
Speaking to AsiaNews, he said, “We are preparing Easter in our parish. This year we have about 70 adult Chinese catechumens, who will be baptised during the Easter vigil. But we will also celebrate an English-speaking a catechumen who will receive baptism.”
“My community is 'split' in two languages, but the joy of Easter involves all of us. We shall hold two celebrations on Easter night to which every Catholic will participate. We shall also celebrate many newly confirmed on the same occasion – people who might have been raised in the faith but did not receive the sacrament of Confirmation and now want to remedy” the situation.
Easter will not be limited to vigil. "On Sunday, we shall baptise about 45 children; they will receive the sacrament in the afternoon. On the second Sunday of Easter, dedicated to Divine Mercy, there will be another special moment for many senior citizens who, because of their age and medical condition cannot participate in the vigil. They followed the catechumenate in hospital or the hospice. We go and take them to the church. It ie get theme of their y will receives always a very moving moment."
Overall, some 3,200 catechumens will receive the sacraments of Christian initiation (Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist) during the Easter vigil in Hong Kong diocese. The latter can always count on large numbers, partly because economic growth has led people to values related to materialism and relativism that at some point in their life prove pointless.
The fervour touches the entire Holy Week. "On Holy Thursday, the auxiliary bishop of Hong Kong, Mgr Michael Yeung Ming-cheung, will celebrating both the Cena Domini Mass and the washing of the feet. After these celebrations, together we will bring the sacrament in procession and begin the Eucharistic adoration until late into night. Here they are not called 'sepulchres' as in Europe, but they are felt very much. On Good Friday, we naturally hold the Via Crucis in the two languages, followed by the vigils and Easter."
When it comes to the baptism, entire families are involved. The latter “are usually connected to Catholic schools in Hong Kong. They studied there, and either left the faith or never found it. At some point, they find the need for a religious education. Here, there is a positive concept of religiosity. Having faith is considered a good thing, thus it is something important to educate children. They feel the need for a supernatural foundation in their lives, against the dominant materialism."
Fr Bonalumi is also the only Missionary of Mercy in the Diocese of Hong Kong. "I explained to the bishop, Card John Tong, that I especially wanted to remain as a pastor. He agreed. The Territory is a city and I can easily reach anyone with ease.”
“I must say that this year, there is greater participation in the life of the Church, but I do not think it is linked to my being a Missionary of Mercy. It is the grace of the Jubilee that brought many people to the faith and the sacrament of reconciliation."