Telling a Story that Touches Hearts and Minds

Reflections on the Mong Ha Exhibition

Angela Chong

“The Story of St. Francis Xavier Parish, Mong Ha”, an exhibition which began in mid-January, takes visitors on a journey through more than a hundred years of historical time to revisit memories of the growth of the Parish.

When first appointed as one of the exhibition docents, I was doubtful about my job. The well-chosen pictures and objects of historical value, the skillfully designed display boards and printed panels as well as the audio-visual presentations could very well help the guests gain an in-depth understanding of the early Canossian Sisters’ charitable deeds and the priests’ dedicated work of pastoral care. Why would thematic guided tour services still be needed?

However, I have gradually come to realize that our work involves more than just introducing the displayed items. We have been telling a story that really connects with the audience, touching their hearts and minds. In fact, the story resonates with some of the visitors as they have either heard about or have themselves been involved in the facts that we have sprinkled in it. And, amazingly, in our interaction with the audience we find ourselves inspired, in turn, by their related stories as well. Such is the power of emotions in our work that the pictures and exhibits alone cannot have achieved. 

Among the visitors who shared their memories and personal connections to the exhibits, there was a lady who had once sought medical care from the Canossian Sisters in the children’s hospital depicted in a picture. Another lady, referring to the records of the babies left in the care of the Sisters, inquired if she could find the name of her sister who had been placed in the orphanage years before. A gentleman also gave some information about a clinic the Sisters had set up temporarily for women infected with cholera in the early nineties. A picture of the Institute for Social Work Training, which was established by Sister Maria Goisis, took a lady down memory lane and she claimed to have been among the first graduates. And, interestingly, a few Sacred Heart students remarked that the lyrics in their school song “Comfort the needy; uplift the weak” meant more to them now that they had learned about the Canossian Sisters’ selfless acts.

Likewise, some visitors were elated at the story about the founding of the Mong Ha Pastoral Centre in the 1970’s as they had first joined the various service groups set up by Father Lao Chi Chiu, who was then working on the application for Mong Ha to be designated as a parish. And quite a few got excited as they had been the participants of either the charitable fundraising activities or the evangelistic work promoting Christian practice beyond the parish. Even Sunday School students were fascinated by a poster featuring a tall tree, the one in the shade of which they used to play basketball and enjoy summer games before its removal from the playground.

Most importantly, this story has not ended. The Mong Ha Parish is still striving for continuous improvement and growth. Through some historical incidents and figures, God has bestowed upon Mong Ha bountiful blessings and, by telling the story, we are working jointly with the other parishioners to continue to bear witness to His glorious presence.