– Jasmin Yiu
On October 21, the Claretian Fathers celebrated the Feast Day of St Anthony Mary Claret, founder of the Congregation of the Missionary Sons of the Immaculate Heart of Mary at St Lawrence Church, Macau. The Mass was celebrated by Monsignor Javier Herrera Corona, with 16 priests from different congregations concelebrating.
An introduction to St Anthony Mary Claret was given by Fr. Jose Cherukara, along with a 15-minute video, explaining the history of how the Claretian Fathers started their apostolate in China, as well as Macau and Hong Kong. The congregation started their missionary work in Anhui province in 1927, and retreated to Macau and Hong Kong in 1950, where they started different works, including publishing religious books.
That day, the universal Church also celebrated Mission Sunday, which Fr Jojo Ancheril, parish priest of St Lawrence Church, described as a double feast. He noted that everyone present in the Mass benefits in the missionary work of the Claretians.
In his homily, Monsignor Javier explained the essence of Mission Sunday in the Catholic Church, which is “to speak about something very fundamental. Evangelization is to bring together the family of God.”
Using the Ad Gentes Decree of the Second Vatican Council, Monsignor Javier explained there are two directions in the mission work of the Church: “The first is to go and announce the gospel to everyone in the world. Announce that we are all children of God, we are brothers and we have to establish this brotherhood. The Church found its DNA to be missionary [when Jesus gave this mission to His disciples].”
He further explained the other direction is the importance of personal growth and formation. He said that “the importance [of preaching the Good News] is not only to make numbers, but to learn how to live together as brothers and sisters…[at the same time,] we also have to continue our evangelization, our formation, our daily nourishment in contact with the Word of the Lord.”
Monsignor Javier stressed a lot on the importance of receiving formation, describing it as a way for one’s sanctity. “To be a Catholic is a constant ongoing formation. You are Catholic not because you are baptized and you have reached your objective. To be Catholic should be a way of life, and that way should be to live and to put into practise the Good News that we have received, and to go deeper in the knowledge in the Mystery of God in our life. To be a Catholic is not to be a member of a ‘club’. It is a style of life!”
Monsignor Javier encouraged all the faithful to learn from St Anthony Claret, especially the missionary zeal of the saint, despite different difficulties. He said, “Set our dreams high and far…[but at the same time,] instead of making my own plan, let us discover what is God’s plan for us. He [the saint] knows quickly God’s plan for him as a missionary, but he knows he had to first work on the inside, to grow.” He also encouraged all faithful to pray more, that the missionary spirit can inflame our hearts.
PRAY FOR THE HOLINESS OF ALL PRIESTS AND FOR CHINA
This year is Monsignor Javier’s 25th anniversary of priestly ordination. He concluded that this [25th anniversary] is not an accumulation of years, “but is to be wise and to be holy, and to pray more for the people of God. Please pray for me and for all priests, that we will be light just like St Anthony, a light that keeps alight after so many years.”
He also invited all people to pray for the Church in China, emphasizing the Holy Father’s will is to invite all to pray for the Church and for the good.