Men Religious from different Orders and Congregations, present in Macau, annually gather together to celebrate the Christmas Feast. Every year in December, different parishes alternatively facilitate venues for them to hold their meeting. This year, the gathering took place in the Church of Our Lady of Fátima Parish, on 27th of December. Some 50 Religious have participated in the celebration. Most participants are religious priests who are doing their pastoral ministry in Schools and in the Diocese of Macau. Some of the participants are religious brothers who are still in their formation state.
Shortly before the big gathering, which would take place later, Fr. José Angel Castellanos Hernández (SVD), the parish priest of Fátima Parish, welcomed, at 6:00 pm, all the participants in a small chapel attached to the main Church, to begin the evening prayer, led by the Dominican brothers. After the chanting of the psalms, religious priests from different congregations were invited to participate, reading a short scripture passage, leading intercessions and reciting the closing prayer, etc. Right after the closing prayer, the parish priest, together with all participants, warmly welcomed H. E. Bishop Stephen Lee Bun Sang, the bishop of Macau. His presence made the gathering more lively and joyous.
After saying the evening prayer and welcoming the bishop, all participants moved to the social hall of the parish, where all the facilities were arranged beforehand by Fr. James Ho Ngo Lu Vien (SVD), the assistant parish priest. Fr. Andy Vergara, who acted as the coordinator of the gathering, invited everyone to friendly introduce himself, since some new religious, who had been recently assigned in Macau, were present. After that, he requested the bishop to deliver a short Christmas message to the religious who were present in the gathering.
Bishop Stephen Lee began his speech by saying that he was really happy to join the gathering and to see young religious brothers who reminded him of his early age in perusal of his religious vocation like them. The bishop brought up two points as his Christmas message to all the participants: the first message was “to bring mercy to everyone”, so that in this way, every religious would reach out the world through his way of life, initiated in themselves and exercised in their communities. The second message concerned the pastoral ministry in the parishes, regarding the “upbringing the role of youths and valuing authenticity of family life in the parish”. He gave a short evaluation on this second point by saying that the crucial role of the youths in the parish must be recognized by those who minister with the youth, as well as their families. The genuine family life in the Church is important because the good and promising youths are brought up by good families. Put emphasis in their family life and youths would surely make flourish new vocations in the Church, too. Then, the bishop wished everyone to have a blessed and happy Christmas. The compelling message of the bishop would surely be a powerful stimulus for all participants, to begin the coming New Year with a rigorous program.
Afterward, the singing of “Silent Night”, the famous beautiful Christmas song, in different languages followed, as the religious present belong to different nationalities. The singing was accompanied with the accordion played by Fr. Ángel SVD, and the guitar, played by Bro. Abraham OP. In line with the first message of the bishop regarding “Mercy”, a Chinese Jesuit priest, sang a Marian song, in honor of Our Lady in this Christmas Feast,.
A fraternal dinner and an animated mutual conversation with one another followed, as the celebration was going on. Throughout the gathering, everyone was happy to celebrate the coming of our Lord by sharing joy, love and hope.
I wish you all a Blessed and Merry Christmas!
Bro. Stephen Saw Lei Kapaw. O.P.