People outside the Mt Carmel Church in Taipa

Our Lady of Carmel – how to build faith that moves mountains?

Pastoral action, Father Eduardo Aguero claims, is synonymous with relationship and the relationship that the Argentine priest managed to build over the last few months with the Portuguese-speaking Catholic community of Taipa has transformed the Church of Our Lady of Carmel into an example of spiritual flourishing in Macau. The Dehonian missionary helped to establish a new Bible study group and to relaunch the Holy Childhood project. On Sunday, the Advent season begins with the institution of the twelve readers that will serve the Carmel parish during the new Liturgical Year.

Marco Carvalho

The Parish of Our Lady of Carmel will induct a total of twelve readers in next Sunday’s Eucharist. The celebration signals the beginning of the Advent season and a new Liturgical Year. The twelve readers will be tasked with the reading the word of God over the next year in the liturgical assemblies aimed at the Portuguese-speaking Catholics who attend the only church in Taipa church.

Over the past few weeks, the group received the adequate liturgical formation to rightly fulfil the mission that has been assigned to them. The rite of the institution of readers is just one of the many examples of the spiritual resurgence that the Parish of Our Lady of Carmel has been experiencing, under the apostolic guidance of Father Eduardo Aguero. The Argentine priest, affiliated with the Congregation of the Priests of the Sacred Heart, answered old expectations of the local faithful and established a new Bible study group in Taipa and helped to relaunch the Holy Childhood movement in Macau. 

The Dehonian missionary says, nevertheless, that the merit for such a recrudescence shouldn’t be assigned to him and claims that lay people are responsible for the changes the parish has been experiencing: “If this is happening, it is happening due to the grace of God. We all received his call and there are many lay people who have many good initiatives. This predisposition is not something new, but possibly the community never had a priest who was available to them. They would only come to celebrate Mass. The bishop asked me to stay, he asked me if I was available and all I did was to take some time off to be with them,” the Argentine priest told O CLARIM.

The Advent season is synonymous with personal reflection, but in Taipa it also means community and intercultural sharing. On December 11th,  the third Sunday of the Advent season, the different communities that attend Mass at the Church of Our Lady of Carmel will gather for the parish’s Christmas Party, an event that coincides this year with an out-of-time Lusophony Festival: “We are going to have a presentation that will mobilize the entire community. It will coincide with the Lusophony Festival and our Portuguese-speaking community will also take part in this event, probably with a musical performance,” Father Eduardo Aguero explains. “Very possibly we will also try to convince the group that makes the capoeira presentation down there to also perform outside the Church. Many of the children who attend catechesis are also members of this capoeira group,” the missionary of the Congregation of the Priests of the Sacred Heart says.

During the month of December, the parish of Our Lady of Carmel wishes also wishes to organize a one-day spiritual retreat and various other initiatives of a pastoral nature aimed at different groups of believers: “The preparation for Christmas must focus on the experience and the message of Advent and translate into the formation of lay people, probably during a day of retreat and reflection, so that they can come closer to change and reconciliation. Advent is also the most suitable time for the Word of God and we have twelve readers who will be included in their mission at Mass next Sunday,”  Eduardo Aguero added. 

“We also have a Bible study group, so that we can read and share the Bible and the Word of God and we will try to organize a meeting with them. And we are also going to have a picnic with the young people who are part of the Holy Childhood project. We have fifteen young people and we are going to be with them in order to take stock of the experience they already have with the children. They are all very excited,” the Argentine missionary stressed. 

Faith and commitment

More than an extension of catechesis after receiving the sacrament of Confirmation, the approach inherent to the Holy Childhood project places children and young people at the epicentre of evangelization, educating them in the dissemination of faith: “Last year I guided the group that was preparing for Confirmation. I worked with a group of eleven young people and, at a certain point, I told them that I didn’t want them to leave the Church after being confirmed,” Eduardo Aguero explains. “But it is not enough to claim they should continue. They have to feel that their journey is not over yet. The Holy Childhood project is a very good initiative because it does precisely that: it requires young people to commit to something, to be themselves guides to those that are younger than them. Thanks be to God, there were a few more young people who joined us during the summer vacation,” the Dehonian priest adds.

The fresh vigor that is felt in the parish of Our Lady of Carmel is not, however, exclusive to the younger generations. The number of adults who approached or came back to hear the Word of God and the teachings of the Church has increased to the point that those responsible for the pastoral work directed to the Portuguese language Catholics of Taipa have moved towards the reinstitution of the catechumenate, providing accompaniment to several faithful who have shown interest in receiving several sacraments: “We provide spiritual accompaniment to some young people and adults who want to be baptized. We have six, seven people, but sometimes catechesis ends up being almost a personalized thing. We have a few couples. This Friday we will have a wedding and the couple has been preparing for this moment for five or six months. Over the past five or six months they haven’t missed one of the meetings. We have others who are preparing for Confirmation, adults who have not yet submitted to the sacrament of Confirmation. But there are also those who are preparing for Baptism, a 14-year-old girl. There is another young woman who was baptized last year and who continues to attend catechesis, because she says she feels replenished,” Father Aguero concluded.