Cardinal Newman Center – Breaking the taboo of talking about death

Marco Carvalho

In the Catholic liturgical calendar, November is entirely devoted to the deceased. Throughout the world, death and the rituals that surround it are steeped in taboo. Macau is no exception, but the Cardinal Newman Culture and Performing Arts Center wants to help change that perception. Throughout the month, the Catholic institution will promote a series of initiatives aimed at debating and demystifying the idea of mortality.

“As November is dedicated to the souls in purgatory, we organized the “Sunrise-Sunset” visual and art series. The Macau Cardinal Newman Culture and Performing Arts Center would like to take this opportunity to explore the topic of mortality through film, picture books, workshops, gardening and seminars,” a spokesperson from the center told O Clarim.

“Death is not a ‘taboo’ subject. We want the residents of Macau to learn about the emotions and the meaning that arise from the idea of death,” the same source adds.

The center’s facilities, located on Calçada da Vitória, held on Saturday afternoon the first of a series of seminars focused on a philosophical and spiritual approach to the concept of death. On the second and third Sunday of the current month, the Newman Center will host several initiatives concerning the same topic. The “Sunrise-Sunset” visual and art series will come to an end on the 26th of November, with the Cardinal Newman Center hosting a workshop that will try to teach people how to deal with feelings such as anxiety and anguish, commonly associated with death.

But not everything is dark and gloomy in the cultural offer of the Cardinal Newman Culture and Performing Arts Center this month. From November 18 to 20, the Center’s facilities will play host to Emotional Labor, a theatre performance promoted by the Wind Box Association. “We are not exactly hosting a play but leasing out the venue to the Wind Box Association. The situation is similar to the ‘Activities of the Maritime Silk Road: International Cultural Forum’ that we recently hosted. However, there are lots of activities coming up,” the Cardinal Newman Center stresses.

Among them is the organization on November 13 of a workshop on children’s literature. Through illustrated books and games, the initiative intends to encourage the younger generations to speak out on the topic of life while encouraging them with the others’ experiences and concerns. ‘Hello! The Shining life’ is the name of an illustrated book workshop that we are preparing. We will try to use picture books and games to encourage children to think about the topic of life, to let them express their ideas about it. The meaning of life can be expressed in insignificant things that happen in our life daily, for instance fallen leaves. This workshop will use stories to encourage children to treasure and have more concern for others,” the center stated.