Missionaries of Our Lady of Perpetual Help: 50 Years in Macau
Ross Belle Balatbat
The commemoration of the 50th Year of the Missionaries of Our Lady of Perpetual Help (MPS-Misioneras del Perpetuo Socorro) mission was not a propos of festivities but it was more than that. It was a milestone event in the Diocese of Macau as the congregation continues to be a living sign of a burning passion for mission amidst a constantly changing world.
The celebration commenced with a customized thanksgiving prayer that concluded the weekday’s evening mass at the Pastoral Care for Migrants Center. Last April 27, the MPS Golden Jubilee day in Macau, a culminating Eucharistic celebration was held at Saint Lawrence Church where His Excellency Bishop Stephen Lee Bun Sang, and 13 priests from various congregations graced the occasion. It was a very well-attended event, both by lay and religious persons.
The Most Reverend Bishop expressed his appreciation for the MPS’ presence in Macau. He acknowledged their smiles and friendship as they evangelize people around them full of joy. In his homily, he started off with Mary’s Magnificat as an inspiration on how the MPS sisters evangelize. He pointed out that self-centeredness nowadays is a great factor that hinders individuals in their spiritual journey. He encouraged the faithful to change their ways like the sisters who set aside their “self” and are obeying God’s will with humility. He continued his exhortation reminding them about the importance of obedience, humility, chastity and also he gave emphasis to serving with joy. All these, he said, are exemplified by the sisters as they minister here in Macau.
The gifts were presented and were described as follows: the vessel and candle represented our human condition, wrapped in fragility but at the same time remind us that we are bearers of the message of Light; the flowers represented the love that each member of the MPS offered to the Lord so that their apostolic mission will continue and become a garden of the Church; the flags represented the different nationalities of the MPS sisters who have been assigned here in Macau – from Mexico, Guatemala, Macau-China, Philippines, Honduras and India; the Star is the Marian emblem of the Congregation in which the founders had chosen to identify each member’s belongingness to the Congregation; the constitution, formulated by the founders out of love and joy, and recently renewed and approved by the Church, is an instrument in living the gospel; the bread and wine represented the work of the MPS in cooperation for the work of proclaiming the Mercy of God. Thereafter, the sisters were prayed over and received a special blessing. Before the concluding prayer, a short message of gratitude was given by Mother Cecilia Morales Tapia, Superior General of MPS.
Following the Mass, a warm fellowship dinner was served at Saint Joseph Seminary Auditorium.
The occasion offered an opportunity to remember the grace-filled moments in the MPS’ missionary life and the many great things that God has done, to ponder the present condition of the mission, to appreciate what it has become and to look forward to the future with zeal and dynamism. In the congregation’s journey, they always take Mary as their model as she is the Mother of Perpetual Help. Hence their constancy and commitment in their half centennial mission in Macau is explained by the MPS tag line: “With Mary, burning PASSION for MISSION amidst a constantly changing world…”
“Commit your work to the LORD, and your plans will be established.” (Proverbs 16:3)
History of the MPS Community in Macau. On April 27, 1966, three Mexican sisters of the congregation arrived in Macau. They were Sr Romelia Christy Franco, MPS, Sr Goretti Chavez, MPS and Mother Beatriz Noguez Lugo, MPS known as Madre Veronica. His Excellency Most Rev Pablo Tavares was then the bishop of Macau who invited the sisters through Rev Father Agapito Martinez from the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer.
Apostolic Mission. According to Sr Jenie Dollete, Mother Superior in Macau, they are only seven MPS sisters in Macau including Madre Veronica. So despite the congregation’s broad apostolic mission they focused their services on the crèche and the youth because of their limited number. And it is only on Sundays that they are able to serve in a parochial mission or if they have spare time, during the weekday Masses or on some special Church occasions. In doing their mission among the children and youth, they have been involved not only in the proclamation of the Catholic faith but also in dialogue with people of other faiths and cultures and with those who have no religion.
They play a valuable role in the administration and facilitation of the crèche and youth center, both funded and supported by the Macau government. The Infantario Ave Maria, an institution taking care of the abandoned was the congregation’s first apostolic mission in Macau. In 1983, Bishop Arquiminio Rodrigues da Costa requested the congregation to open a nursery school located in Rua do Francisco Antonio No. 27, Macau. And in 1990, the Lar de Jovens de Mong-ha, a youth center, was inaugurated.
Missionaries: glory of the Church. Pope Francis has said that “missionaries are docile to the call of the Holy Spirit which leads them to be consumed by a burning desire to dedicate their life to announcing the gospel, even in the most distant places. A missionary’s life is consumed in the service of Christ. Our missionaries, these evangelization heroes of our times…These missionaries are our glory! The glory of our Church!” It was 50 years ago when the sisters courageously responded to the missionary challenges they encountered, and committed themselves to the mission ad gentes, for which they have spent their lives and ministry in Macau. Sr Jenie has been assigned in Macau since 1992 and still with them is Madre Veronica, one of the three sisters who arrived first in Macau, whom God gave as a wonderful gift to the congregation. Her fifty years of dedication to her apostolic work and mission is also the congregation’s fifty years of mission in this precious city of God.