HONG KONG (SE): Over 30 Catholics from Hong Kong attended the opening ceremony of the renovated former residence of Blessed Gabriele Allegra (1907 to 1976) at Catania in Sicily, Italy, on September 29. The renovation started in May 2017 (Sunday Examiner, 28 May 2017) and it has now been converted into a prayer centre in his memory.
Father Allegra, a Franciscan missionary to China from 1930s to the late 1940s, founded Studium Biblicum Franciscanum in Beijing and led a group of Franciscans in translating the Bible into Chinese. The group later relocated to Hong Kong in 1948 due to the political situation in China. The translation took 40 years to complete.
The pilgrims from Hong Kong arrived Sicily on September 25 and went to the Franciscan Church of San Biagio in Acireale to laid a floral tribute at the relics of Father Allegra.
The opening ceremony of the centre included dance performances in the morning and a half-hour procession in the afternoon to Father Allegra’s former residence with his relic held aloft by the Franciscan provincial in Sicily, Brother Antonino Catalfamo.
Antonino Bellia, the mayor of San Giovanni la Punta, spoke on the occasion and awarded a certificate of gratitude to Sister Lucy Chung Miu-sheung of the Franciscan Missionary Sisters of Our Lady of Sorrows. Brother Catalfamo officiated the unveiling and blessing ceremony of the centre.
The day after, pilgrims from Hong Kong as well as the family and friends of Father Allegra gathered at the outdoor chapel of the centre to offer a thanksgiving Mass.