Featured Image Caption: António José de Freitas paying a courtesy call to Bishop Stephen Lee on 29 April. (Photo courtesy of the Bishop’s Office.)
– Marco Carvalho
Delegates from all over the world will meet next week in Macau for the 12th edition of the International Congress of the Houses of Mercy. The event, which will be held for the first time in the territory, will bring to the Special Administrative Region delegates from countries such as Portugal, Brazil, Italy, France or Mozambique.
The Congress will run from the 13th to the 15th of May and is the highlight of the celebrations of the 450th anniversary of the Holy House of Mercy of Macau. Founded in 1569, even before the Diocese of Macau and the Loyal Senate were established, the institution celebrates next week four and a half centuries of charitable service. Starting from Monday, more than two hundred participants will discuss the common challenges by the Houses of Mercy in a world which is growing old and unequal: “This Congress will last three days. It is the first time that Macau will host the representatives of several Holy Houses from countries as different as Portugal, Brazil, Italy, France or Mozambique. This gathering is a good opportunity for us to discuss together some of the aspects of the work that is carried by the Houses of Mercy, such as care of the elderly or other important areas of social welfare,” António José de Freitas told O Clarim. The “ombudsman” of the Holy House of Mercy of Macau completes his tenth term as the head of the centuries-old institution next year.
The 12th International Congress of the Houses of Mercy should also provide an opportunities for the Holy Houses around the world to discuss how can they strengthen cooperation and reinforce the exchange of experiences: “It is something that will be debated and that will surely be done in the future. This Congress will bring together about two hundred people, among them the ‘ombudsmen’ of several of the Houses of Mercy that will be represented. The participants will travel to Macau with the purpose of celebrating with us this anniversary,” Mr Freitas explains.
The Holy House of Mercy received last week the visit of Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa. The Portuguese Head of State concluded in Macau a three-day state visit to the People’s Republic of China and began his brief visit to Macau with a stopover in the Holy House premises, where he highlighted the Institution’s ability to keep alive its “founding spirit” and sustained that it embodies perfectly “the Portuguese way of being in the world”.
In addition to more than two hundred delegates, the 12th International Congress of the Houses of Mercy also brings to Macau the Choir of the Holy House of Mercy of Vila Verde, a municipality located in northern Portugal. The group will sing at Saint Joseph’s Seminary and Church and pay a visit to the Portuguese School of Macau, where it will hold a brief performance.