“Here I am to do your will”

Exploring the Dehonian Mission in Macau and Hong Kong

Fr Eduardo Emilio Agüero, SCJ

Fr. Carlos Luis Suarez Codorniu, SCJ, General Superior of the Priests of the Sacred Heart (Dehonians), recently visited Macau with the aim of meeting the members of his congregation from Hong Kong and Macau. During his visit, he also met with Macau’s bishop, Msgr. Stephen Lee Bun Sang. But before his departure for Taiwan, Fr Codorniu sat with O Clarim for a brief interview.

O Clarim: Fr. Codorniu, could you share with us your reflections about the church in Macau?

Fr. Codorniu: Over the past six years, I have been in contact with the religious of our congregation who live in Macau. This is the second opportunity I have had to visit them. Throughout this period, I have perceived a very active and a very sensitive church, especially in the field of education and supporting communities of diverse backgrounds.

This makes me understand that it is a Church that seeks to serve and welcome everyone so that all can feel at home in their community of faith. It seems to me that it is a church that is very open and attentive to the realities of today’s world and I think there is a good communion, from what I know, as far as our brothers are concerned. We are very grateful for the support they have had at all times from the Bishop, Stephen Lee, the lay people, the religious communities in Macau, and the diocesan clergy. The support provided has greatly aided the integration of our religious brothers into this diocese and its unique context, where they strive to contribute through our Dehonian charism.

O Clarim: What is the specific contribution that the Dehonians have to give in this diocese and in Hong Kong where we have eight religious (seven priests and one deacon)?

Fr. Codorniu: From our charismatic experience, our desire is always to be very attentive to the realities of the Church and society, trying to respond to concrete situations. In our case, our presence, whether in Macau or Hong Kong, has, first of all, been to appreciate and understand the ecclesial dynamics, the culture, the language. All of this has meant a long time of preparation. Over these years that we have been here, we’ve endeavored to embody our readiness as a central aspect of our charism, echoing Father Dehon’s embrace of Lord Jesus’ “Here I am to do your will” (cf. Heb 10:7).

It is in that “Here I am” that we try to live by responding to the needs of the local Church, whether in the pastoral service of the parishes, in the educational world, in the ministry to immigrants, and even in the mass media. We embody that “Here we are” through our approach to people, sharing our spirituality, particularly through the Eucharist and reconciliation.

O Clarim: What is the future you want for the Dehonian presence in these lands?

Fr. Codorniu: I recall that when Pope Saint Paul II invited the Church to evangelize in Asia, our congregation received that invitation with great joy. The former Superior General enthusiastically urged the congregation to embrace Asia with fondness, emphasizing the importance of learning from its diverse cultures and actively participating in the Church’s evangelization efforts across the region. This included considering Macau and Hong Kong as opportunities to demonstrate affection for the Church and contribute to its mission, a commitment that we are currently fulfilling with optimism and joy.

We know and are aware of the difficulties that this mission entails. However, our faith in the Lord’s guidance surpasses any obstacles, as we remain committed to serving the people who have become dear to us. We walk alongside them fearlessly, looking towards the future with a deep desire to give our lives by serving the Gospel.

O Clarim: We, in Macau, know the contribution that our Dehonian Portuguese province makes in the ministry of the Word in the Portuguese language. What can the Priests of the Heart of Jesus offer to this church?

Fr. Codorniu: Our founder, the venerable Father Dehon, consistently emphasized the importance of the Word of God as our daily sustenance. He embodied this principle, living a life deeply rooted in the Gospel through contemplation and action. That is why we have this tradition of always guarding the study of the Word of God, its meditation, and preaching. Hence, the Dehonian tradition has never lacked brothers who have had a very specific apostolate of spreading and serving the Word of God. In recent years, our brothers in Portugal have notably excelled in this regard, offering well-researched and comprehensive commentaries on the Gospel and biblical readings to enrich the knowledge and Christian identity of the faithful. It is a ministry that we take very seriously and we are grateful to be able to serve the Church of Asia in this field of Biblical formation.