Solidarity across the Sea: A Mass in Macau for COVID-Struck Hong Kong

The latest wave of COVID-19 infections has caused near devastation in Hong Kong as daily cases have surged over the past weeks, leaving hospitals short of beds and people struggling to cope. The overwhelming circumstances, fueled by the extremely contagious Omicron variant, have affected not only those who are facing the onslaught of Omicron in Hong Kong, but also those of us who love the brave people of Hong Kong.

As Christians, we turn to God in times of fear and uncertainty as we do in times of joy and celebration. Bishop Stephen Lee Bun-sang recently announced that, from March 11 to 19, a prayer released by Pope Francis would be recited in all parishes after public Masses. In support of the bishop’s announcement, Macau’s English-speaking community of the Cathedral offered a solidarity Mass for the people of Hong Kong on Sunday, March 20, 2022, at 6:30PM. The initiative came to fruition thanks to the collaborative effort of the English-speaking community of the Cathedral, who decided that on the last day of the diocesan novena prayer, a solidarity Mass should be celebrated to gird Hong Kong with more hope and spiritual strength.

Fr Leonard Dollentas, the chaplain of the Cathedral English-speaking community, said that many Filipinos in his community are worried about the overseas Filipino workers in Hong Kong. He noted that the pandemic has had varying levels of impact at different stages throughout the globe; and that, at this point, the focus is particularly on countries and areas that are the worst hit at this moment in time during the pandemic; Hong Kong is one of those areas that have suffered a heavy toll.

Explaining the solidarity Mass, Fr Dollentas said, “The mass is a way to express our prayers, to support each other and to reinforce a sense of mutual support to Hong Kong in this time of pandemic suffering. The Mass is specially intended to pray for all those who have lost their lives or who are suffering from Covid symptoms right now.” The Mass was especially offered for people who have died isolated from their families, especially the poor.

A local resident, who joined the celebration, was overwhelmed by the initiative offered by the English community. “Here in Macau,” she remarks, “we are very privileged and blessed to have a good system that has done its utmost to care for people. Expressing concern for others, especially for Hong Kong, makes me feel I can also do my part to ease the worries of the people in Hong Kong. I took some pictures during the Mass and sent them to my friends in Hong Kong while assuring them that here in Macau we pray for them.”

A Hong Kong resident, who happened to be at the Mass, was overjoyed with the experience. She was intensely worried about her family in Hong Kong. She narrated that some of her family members are not yet vaccinated. “The Mass makes me feel that I’m not alone,” she said. “Suddenly I feel a multitude of people are helping me with the burden and cross that I now carry. Sharing that solidarity with others; coming together to pray, praying for others suffering from the war or the pandemic and especially for those most affected by the pandemic is something very heartwarming,” she added.

Fr Dollentas mentioned, in his reflection, “We don’t expect miracles, but we wish to nourish our own sense of being concerned for others; to give them and us, the strength to face this difficult pandemic time with patience; and to be able and ready to accompany those who are most affected in Hong Kong and in other parts of the world – those who are most fragile and vulnerable.”