HONG KONG (SE): The Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception on Caine Road was fully packed for the celebration of the Chrism Mass on Holy Thursday, April 18.
The event was the time for all the priests and deacons of the diocese to renew the vows of their ordination and, along with representatives of the entire diocesan community to come together in solidarity around the bishop, who blesses the Holy Oils—Oil of the Sick, Oil of Catechumens, and Sacred Chrism—for use in the coming year.
Mass was concelebrated by Cardinal Tong, auxiliary Bishop Joseph Ha Chi- shing; former bishop, Joseph Cardinal Zen Ze-kiun, and over 200 priests of the diocese.
Cardinal Tong reminded everyone of that the Chrism Mass is an ancient tradition and that the Holy Oils are a symbol of the Fragrance of Christ. He also called on all to “live fully our common priesthood which we received at baptism” by evangelising.
He remembered that in the 1950s and 1960s, when the territory was experiencing a period of growth and Bishop Lorenzo Bianchi was the bishop of Hong Kong, there were between 10,000 to 20,000 baptisms per year, and that there are now around 600,000 resident and non-resident Catholics in Hong Kong. The cardinal said that this Easter, 2,700 catechumens would be baptised and welcomed into the Christian family.
Speaking of the ministerial priesthood, Cardinal Tong stressed that “we, the clergy, should protect the young ones from getting hurt,” an allusion to the clerical sex abuse crisis that has afflicted the Church. He also pointed out that the witness of the clergy plays a huge influence on vocations, noting that Pope Francis apostolic exhortation, Christus Vivit, invites all to discern vocation.
The cardinal also noted that two-thirds of Hong Kong’s 52 parishes were providing services to non-Chinese speaking faithful, including, Vietnamese, Filipinos, Indonesians, among others.
Cardinal Tong also touched on the role of the Church in Hong Kong as a bridge-Church, working and praying for reconciliation between the official and unofficial Church communities in China, and for full freedom of religion.
As he concluded his homily, the cardinal asked that the people of Paris and France, who were greatly impacted by the fire that tore through the cathedral of Notre Dame de Paris, be remembered in the prayers.