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A Visit to Hong Kong

Youth Project in Macau

Christopher Martin writes:

For nearly four weeks, Alfred Boonkong, Christopher John and I went on mission to the Hong Kong Sheng Kung Hui (HKSKH), the Province of the Anglican Communion in Hong Kong and Macau. This was my first trip outside of Europe and began with my first ever long-haul flight, which ran incredibly smoothly, with us all arriving from our various locations on Thursday 21st April. As I was the first to arrive I was instantly taken for my first Hong Kong food: a bread-meal with sock tea, which was lovely and refreshing after hitting the heat and humidity that knocked me as much as the jetlag, but also began my most lasting memory of HKSKH, a wonderful hospitality and generosity centred around food, tea and fellowship.

Our time was mainly divided between two activities; travelling around the Province, meeting people and learning about life in Hong Kong and Macau; and teaching through retreats, quiet days and lectures about Franciscan Spirituality and the Religious Life. We discovered an incredibly welcoming and generous culture, full of spirituality and the love of God, with many wonderful blessings. The churches are packed with both young and old, men and women, speaking a cacophony of languages: English, Cantonese, Mandarin, Tagalog and several others.

We were mainly based at Ming Hua Theological College in the Central area of Victoria Island, where we lived alongside the postulants, those training for ordination, always aware of the constant nightlife opposite us in Lan Kwai Fong, the bar and clubbing district. Living alongside the postulants was a brilliant experience and helped me to experience more of the local life, being told where was good for shopping and to just sit and people watch with a cup of coffee.

The Brothers with Students at the Theological College

We also spent time on Cheng Chau, an island about 30 minutes from Victoria Island and famed for its luscious mango snacks. This is where the Province keeps a small retreat house among beautiful and awe-inspiring scenery, with sea eagles flying overhead and following the fishing boats out to sea. Here we led two retreats on the life of Francis and made some delightful new friends. We also visited a wonderful youth project in Macau, a former Portuguese colony, which has now returned to be a part of China. I really enjoyed my experiences with the Filipina Fellowship that met in Macau and it was a great privilege to preach in the Protestant Chapel where Florence Li Tim-Oi (the first woman to be ordained in the Anglican Church) served the community there during the Second World War.

The Third Order has been in Hong Kong for several decades and First Order brothers have regularly visited; however, we have been invited by the archbishop to live there permanently. Sadly, we do not feel we have the numbers to enable this at present, but are considering plans that will hopefully strengthen and grow the Third Order and develop local vocations to the First Order. Hopefully it will not be too long before I am back there again! f