ASIA-OCEANIAA special “Holy Door”
Fr. Vincenzo BORDO tells of a special initiative for the Holy Year of Mercy.
Having been challenged and encouraged repeatedly by that "dear old man” Pope Francis, we could not resist being drawn into his ideal world. "Leave your comfortable and lovely churches and go into the dirty and dangerous outskirts of humankind. Seek out the sinners, the rejected, the marginalized, the least ones in our society and bring them the mercy of God.”
With this spirit, the Pope has opened the Jubilee Year and the "Door of Mercy” in every diocese so that everyone would be able to cross the threshold and receive the grace of pardon and hope for a better life. Guided by his words, we too have gone out of our beautiful Center that does so much good (every day we serve 550 meals to the poor), to learn that there are further places to explore, other than the miserable situations we were already caring for and helping: the homeless. So in order to go even farther, toward those outskirts that no one ever reaches, we bought a bus.
We equipped it for every contingency, and in the cold winter nights, we went into the dangerous hinterlands of the city where we discovered a new and more dramatic form of poverty: STREET KIDS. Little boys and girls, teenagers and youth who, because of violence, bullying, abuse, have to leave their homes and get by as best they can in the brutal nights of the off-limits areas of the "good life:” night clubs, discotheques, karaoke’s, betting and gambling halls, beautiful clothing, big cylindered cars, drugs….dazzling districts with their colored lights and attractive with their offer of easily attainable happiness, but a lethal stranglehold for those who are too young and lacking in life experience.
And while Francis has opened the Holy Door in Rome, with the authorization of the bishop, we have invented a "Holy Door.” The door to our bus has become the "Door of Mercy.” In fact, those who go through the "Holy Door” of the Jubilee receive jubilee indulgence. But whoever goes through the "Holy Door” of our bus is invited to practice all the Works of Mercy for those whom we meet on the street. It is a door meant to "make holy” those who enter it.
Just as the 1,200 missionaries of Pope Francis are going through the streets of the world bringing to everyone the gift of reconciliation, the love of God and His infinite mercy, as we drive our bus, we bring into the hinterland of our city the "Holy Door of Mercy” to invite everyone to cross this wonderful threshold that leads to doing the good and beautiful and to committing oneself to helping the least of the least, the children abandoned by their own parents and by society and who are being lured by the underworld.
This and our jubilee…not made of prayers to be recited while sitting comfortably in a nice church smelling of incense, but of life lived alongside the dispossessed. It consists of deeds and works of mercy practiced in nasty and inhuman areas of our cities. Isn’t this perhaps the spirit of Pope Francis? Isn’t this what he is inviting us to do and what he himself does in his travels?
This "dear old man”, who is much livelier and enthusiastic than many young people, is there shouting for dear life that Christianity is not so much a beautiful and charming morality to practice or so many prayers to be recited by rote or solemn ceremonies, but a living person present among us: Jesus, a person to love and follow along the way of merciful love through the streets of life.
The Hong Kong-China Delegation celebrated 50 years of missionary presence on 26 February 2016. The Eucharistic celebration was held at Notre Dame Parish where Cardinal John Tong Hon, Bishop of Hong Kong, and Cardinal Orlando QUEVEDO of Cotabato, Philippines, graced the occasion. Also present were all the Oblates of the Delegation and those Oblates from the Asia-Oceania Region who came for the JPIC and Asia-Oceania Regional Conference (AORC) meetings, the religious, the priests and lay faithful of the diocese of Hong Kong. The Cardinal in his homily expressed his appreciation of the Oblate presence in China. During the Eucharist two received the title of Honorary Oblate, Father Joseph So, SDB (Salesian) and Mr. Peter Liu Wing Sun.
The Oblates first arrived in Hong Kong from the Philippines Province on 25 February 1966, with Fr. Michael MOLLY as the Mission Superior. Soon after their arrival, the Oblates got involved in school work with the construction of Notre Dame College. The Oblate presence was aptly called the "Hong Kong Mission” and was focused on education and pastoral work from the chapel attached to Notre Dame College. Later the Oblates became supervisors of other schools and took on another parish. In March 1990, the China Mission was entrusted to the Australian Province. This Oblate unit became the "China Delegation,” highlighting the change in missionary focus.
The jubilee celebration coincided with a joint meeting of the JPIC commission and of the AORC. There were 24 participants who participated at the joint meeting. The theme of the JPIC workshop was migration. Asia has its own share of migration problems, with people who are forced to cross borders because of wars, conflicts, economic reasons, etc. The workshop was facilitated by Fr. Kennedy KATONGO, the Director of OMI JPIC, together with Fr. Bradley ROZAIRO the JPIC-AORC coordinator. There were talks by various speakers as well as exposure programmes.
The annual AORC meeting continued as usual. Fr. Derrick WARNAKULASURIA, Delegation Superior of Pakistan, could not attend the meeting due to problems renewing his resident visa so as to leave the country. The major and mission superiors spent time discussing and reflecting on the reports that were written by the Units for the forthcoming General Chapter. There was also a brainstorming session on what would be the vision, mission, and possible future focus the AORC Region could offer to the Congregation at large, beyond 200 years of Oblate Foundation.
On the day of their arrival, the participants were given a rousing welcome by the Oblates of the Delegation and their associates with Chinese cultural entertainment and a sumptuous Chinese dinner; at the end participants were given various kinds of gifts and souvenirs. What wonderful Oblate hospitality and brotherhood accorded by Fr. Slawomir KALISZ OMI, Delegation Superior, and his team!
The La-Kri-Vi movement is an action-oriented Roman Catholic organization working for the integral development of Sri Lankan children, irrespective of race, religion and gender, open to all children between the ages of 5 and 15. It is run by the children themselves under the guidance of volunteers who serve as animators of the movement. The name La-Kri-Vi is an abbreviation, with the initial letters in Sinhala meaning "Valiant children of action.”
The year 2015 – 2016 has been named the year of sport. Accordingly, having finished the organized sports meets on the deanery, and diocesan level, the National Sports Meet was held on 20 February at Vesly College where all the field events took place and on 21 February at St. Joseph’s College where the track events and the distribution of awards took place. Special to this event is that children from North to South came together to play, irrespective of all petty differences, under the banner of La-Kri-Vi.
Fr. Romesh LOWE, the superior of the Oblate Scholasticate, and Susanthika Jayasingha, an Olympic medal winner (100m event in the 2000 summer Olympics) graced the occasion. Approximately one thousand children participated in the event. The primary aim of the event was achieved: to develop the sports skills of children, to inculcate discipline, self-control, and patience and to face challenges.