HONG KONG (SE): The Mission Ambassador Programme was announced by Father Benedict Lam Cho-ming, chairperson of the Ah Hoc Committee for the Diocesan Mission Sunday Celebration 2019. During a preparatory talk at Holy Spirit Seminary, Aberdeen, on May 5, Father Lam invited parish representatives to join a formation programme to deepen their faith so that they can live it out and spread the gospel.
A total of 63 representatives from 20 parishes undertook the formation programme on the Church’s mission, including seminars, a pilgrimage to early missionary spots in Sai Kung and a retreat at Xavier Retreat House, Cheung Chau. Sessions have been held since May in preparation for the centenary of Pope Benedict XV’s 1919 apostolic letter, Maximum Illud.
Although the scheduled celebration of the Mission Sunday on October 20 at St. Paul Convent School Hall, Causeway Bay, was cancelled due to social unrest, the mission ambassadors had their task cut out for them as they were invited to share what they received during their formation activities at different parishes on the Mission Sunday.
Pope Francis designated October 2019 Extraordinary Missionary Month with the theme, Baptised and Sent, and the faithful are encouraged to pray for the mission of the Church and recite the Mission Sunday Prayer.
During the session on May 5, held at the Holy Spirit Seminary, Deacon Francis Fung Sze-chung introduced Maximum Illud which stresses the duty of missionaries to spread the gospel selflessly everywhere in the world and tell all people about God’s kingdom. The apostolic letter urges missionaries to equip themselves with proficiency in the local language and a dedication to prayer—demands which are valid even today.
In another talk held at the Diocese Centre, Caine Road, on June 30, Father Giovanni Giampietro remarked that the biggest message of the Second Vatican Council for him is that priests or sisters do not only serve in their own regions, but the whole world so they should be ready to be sent to everywhere.
Father Giampietro said he appreciated the wisdom of the pope as the two words “and Sent” in the concise theme of the Extraordinary Missionary Month means “and then be sent at once,” reminding people that they are given the mission to evangelise once they are baptised.
Two pilgrimages to Sai Kung were held in July and August in which Father Lam spoke about the early missionaries who came to Hong Kong with a determination to let go of their old lives. He said that this determination and courage enabled them to build up the Church in a new environment.
In the two retreats at the Xavier Retreat House at the end of August, Father Stephen Tong Chak-long shared that the messenger of the gospel is already a message of the gospel. He explained that knowing the gospel will disturb the comfort of our lives but the pain is a chance for change.
The change signifies a personal encounter with Jesus Christ, which drives us from self-centredness or self-pity to self-acceptance and the courage to live out the teachings of Christ.