Sr. Ines Chau Iok I of the Sisters of Charity of St. Anne, passed away on April 26, 2020 at the age of 79, leaving behind her a legacy of spirituality and service.
Sister Ines was born in Macau on June 4, 1940 to a Chinese family that did not believe in Christianity. They were eight children, among whom she was the 6th. As she studied in a Catholic school, she was introduced to Catholic faith. When she was teaching in Holy Family School the priest and the sisters asked her to become a Catholic and by God’s election, she gladly accepted Jesus Christ as her personal Saviour and Lord. Subsequently, against the wishes of her family, she was baptized on October 27,1962 at the Cathedral. Thereafter she was confirmed on January 10,1965.
Sister Ines went to Spain to further her studies along with one of her Catholic friends. They resided in a hostel belonging to the Dominican Sisters. Eventually she joined the Congregation of Dominicans. She was then assigned to the Philippines, Macau and Taiwan. She had the opportunity to study in Rome. She was blessed to visit many holy places and bear responsibilities in the field of Formation and Education. Her family was still not able to accept her decision to be a religious Sister. Hence, she was not able to pay respects to her dead mother. Gradually, by God’s grace and her unceasing ardent prayers, the family began to accept her state of life.
After some time, she left the congregation and supported herself by the work offered by a Sister who was in charge of the Macau Social Center. As her father’s health began to fail, she decided to look after him. She moved out to her father’s home, and took care of him until his death. Although her father was clearly against Catholicism, by her loving care and tenderness, he began to listen to her speaking about Jesus and his love. One night, her father seemed to be in a very serious situation, and Sister Ines felt that he would not last long; therefore, she baptized him. In the morning he was quite fine. Sister Ines took courage to tell him that she baptized him the night before. Her father did not show any sign of anger. This was a clear sign for Sr Ines that her father had accepted this new life. After some time, her father passed away in peace, and she lived alone.
Sister Ines Chau got acquainted with our Sisters in Macau through our late Fr Luis Ruiz SJ. She was invited to teach Cantonese language to them. In the process, she was also invited to enter our Congregation if she had discovered her call. God is great, and He called her to be a Sister of Charity of St Anne. Consequently, she became our postulant in Macau on April 2, 1991. She was then transferred to Our General House in Spain where she spent her days of probation in the community of Professed Sisters from April 30 to September 7. She was then allowed to begin her Novitiate on September 7, 1991. After two years of Novitiate in the Novitiate House of Zaragoza, she pronounced her First temporal vows on September 8, 1993 in the General House. Thus, Sr. Ines became our first Chinese Sister. She was then permitted to enter the Juniorate of Zaragoza on September 30, 1993 for convenience.
Sister Ines was then transferred to Asilo Betania, Macau on July 1, 1995 to look after the elderly men. Later she was assigned in San Luis Centre, Taipa to teach and care for the mentally and physically challenged men of Macao. Later on June 1, 1997 the Jesuits in Macau invited our Sisters to teach in their school, Sr Ines was assigned in Hoi Sing school along with two other Sisters. For convenience’ sake, she was transferred to Casa Maria Rafols community at Park Way Mansion on October 16, 1998. On August 30, 1999, Sister Ines pronounced her Perpetual Vows in the Delegation House, Santa Ana, at Manila.
Sister Ines retired from School and was then transferred to Taikam, China, an Island where leprosy patients were cared for by our sisters. She offered her service there from October 30, 2001 till February 11, 2002, when she was assigned in Our Lady of Grace, Ngaisai, China, which was also a leprosarium. Old age with all its consequences began to weaken Sister Ines, and so she was transferred to Casa Maria Rafols, Macau on June 8, 2014.
From Easter Sunday, April 12, 2020, Sister Ines lacked appetite for food, and was unable to take normal food. Consequently, Anointing of the Sick was administered to her on 19th April, which she gladly accepted. On 20th, she was taken to hospital. The doctors advised that this time Sister Ines should be shifted to Palliative Care Centre, Coloane, and this was done. She suffered her pain silently in patience. She did not want to complain. “Although He was a Son, He learnt obedience from what He suffered” (Hebrews 5:8).
Sr Ines breathed her last at around 9:00 pm on April 26, 2020 and her soul flew to the embrace of our Heavenly Father.
Sister Ines was an energetic, humorous, simple and very spiritual person. She always had great love for the community sisters. She was a very hardworking person. She was also very creative and artistic. Her creativity and artistic ability gave joy to the community. She had her own typical style of arranging flowers and making Christmas cribs. She would also depict her creativity in decorating the altar for Adoration and special prayers. She enjoyed doing something special to the community sisters giving them surprises.
She was a good guide to the young girls. She took initiative to contact youth, counsel them, encourage and accompany them to join prayers. The young girls were also invited to be with the community Sisters sharing and praying together. She was always ready and open to listen to the youth.
Sr Ines was a very good teacher. The previous Chief Executive of Macau was one of her students. She was also a good student. She learnt through teaching. She loved to do things perfectly. Perfection was one of her virtues.
She will continue to inspire everyone. She has finished the race. “I have completed the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the just judge, will award to me on that day – and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing” (2 Timothy 4: 7-8). The community of St. Anne is ever very grateful to God for Sr Ines who was such a spiritual, creative, energetic and responsible person! May her soul rest in peace.