ASILO DE BETANIA – CARITAS DE MACAU ON ITS 50TH YEAR ANNIVERSARY – Looking Back, But Moving Forward – Giving Light and Hope to the Elderly

– Ross Belle Santos-Balatbat

Asilo de Betania, one of the homes under the elderly services department of Caritas de Macau, held its golden jubilee celebration last 13th to 15th of November 2019 the leadership of Center Director Sister Laurence Thusnevis Rani and Mr Danny Wong, assistant director.

On the 13th, Mr Philip Yuen (Service Director) and Sr Rani led a simple opening activity, with officials from the Social Work Bureau – Ms Xu Huabao (Deputy Director), Mr Cai Zhaoyuan (Director of the Social Mutual Assistance Office), Ms Gan Jieling (Director of the Elderly Services Division), Ms Tan Jiayu (Senior Citizen Service, Social Mutual Aid), and from Caritas de Macao, Ms Zheng Yuezhen (Deputy Service Director) and Ms Li Haoxuan (Director of Caritas Development) in attendance.

On November 14 and 15, the center had a mini-bazaar at its garage and an open house.

On the 15th, Most Reverend Bishop Stephen Lee presided the Eucharistic celebration at the Our Lady of Fatima Church in Toi San. The Mass was attended by people from the administration and management of Caritas de Macau, its main office and its different departments, centers and services around Macau, families and friends of Betania service users, benefactors and friends, and representatives from different congregations of priests and religious nuns.  The Mass was concelebrated by other 11 priests.

Deputy Director Danny Wong gave the introductory speech, where he  introduced the history of Asilo Betania and its development and improvements through the years.  The English translation was read by Ross Belle Santos-Balatbat (Betania staff – health assistant).

The center was founded and instituted by Fr Luis Ruiz Suarez SJ in the 1960s. At first, it was intended only for refugees. Eventually, Fr Luis included  services for the poor and homeless elderly. In 1969, he established the “Betania Home” for the elderly men and elderly couples.   The home was reconstructed to serve the increasing elderly population in Macau.

Asilo de Betania aims to provide a comfortable living environment and a diversity of services so as to meet the different needs of the elderly residents.  It also seeks to develop their talents and abilities through a series of social and leisure activities, and make them integrate with the community so that they may have a cheerful and joyful late stage of life.

With the support of the Social Welfare Bureau and benefactors, the center gradually developed into a multi-service center where all professionals are present for the holistic care of the elderly. At present, Betania offers 24-hour service.

In the homily of Bishop Stephen Lee, he highlighted the gospel of Saint Luke (17:26-37) to remember the wife of Lot who looked back at Sodom then she turned herself into a pillar of salt, her attention probably was on Sodom because she left stuff like wealth, money or friends. God wants us to look forward, not to look back.  “As we look forward, we look into the light and we bring hope. Then we bring forth blessing because as we move on, we are evangelizing, we bring the gospel to the elderly by letting them experience the light and hope by moving forward.”

Before the final blessing, the acknowledgment speech was delivered by one of the elderly, Loi Weng Koung, in Chinese and was read in English by Mr Reynaldo Vibar (staff – personal care worker), where he thanked everyone who was involved, helped or supported the center.

Caritas de Macau Secretary General Mr Paul Pun Chi Meng spoke during the closing ceremony at the TV hall. He acknowledged the role of the sisters of the Congregation of the Charity of Saint Anne and all the staff in the success of the home.

In attendance were different guests from the Social Work Bureau, administration and manager of Caritas de Macau, benefactors and other guests affiliated with elderly associations and charity works.  The special guests during the last day’s celebration were: Mr Cai Zhaoyuan, Director of the Social Mutual Aid Department of the Macau Social Work Bureau; Ms Gan Jieling, Director of the Elderly Services Division, Social Mutual Aid, Macau Social Work Bureau; Mr Yuen Philip, Director of Caritas Service, Macau; Ms Zheng Yuezhen, Deputy Service Director, Caritas, Macau; Deputy Director of the Macau Daily Reader Charity Foundation Liang Yongjia; Taiwan Dentist Li Daming Physician; Ms Luo Huiling, Dean of the N’Angland, Macau; Ms Su Yulian, Dean of the Sanctuary of the Franciscans in Macau; Ms Chen Shiya, the nanny of the N’Autumn, Macau.