Archbishop celebrates Cantonese Mass in Cambridge

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Archbishop celebrates Cantonese Mass in Cambridge

A large congregation of Cantonese Catholics and local parishioners turned out at the Church of Our Lady of the Assumption and the English Martyrs in Cambridge on Sunday afternoon (January 29) to warmly welcome His Excellency the Apostolic Nuncio To Malta, Archbishop Savio Hon SDB. Elizabeth Lam and Dominic Chung report.

Archbishop Savio celebrated a wonderful Pontifical Mass in Cantonese, using a special liturgy for the First Sunday after Lunar New Year.

The regular servers of OLEM under the guidance of Jonathan Wright offered their devotional service at this Mass and Deacon Gianluca Savini proclaimed the Gospel in Cantonese. The Gospel according to Matthews (5:1-12): The Beatitudes was proclaimed. 

In his homily, the Archbishop analysed the auspicious Chinese character for fortune and blessing (福) and reminded us that as in the Beatitudes, the truly blessed are those who live their lives in faith, and not simply of a worldly being. The character vividly signifies heavenly sacrifices, as depicted in the (礻), but it also refers to upkeeping oneself with a reasonable amount of earthly goods (一口田). 

It does not necessarily mean we have to subject ourselves to undue hardship. However, as followers of Jesus Christ,  we must never forget the true meaning of fortune and blessing – it must be grounded in hope, love and charity. All in the context of God’s Heavenly Kingdom.

He also encouraged those who felt displaced and persecuted to entrust themselves to God, and not to be too downtrodden. “Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven”.

After the Mass, the Archbishop was greeted warmly in the church hall by the Rector and Parish Priest, Mgr Provost Eugene Harkness. Mgr Harkness referred to the enrichment to Church life by people of all nationalities who come to settle in the Diocese of East Anglia over the years, and he was delighted that the Hong Konger Cantonese community, in a relatively short time, have shown their resilience, their well-rooted,  strong Catholic faith and their willingness to be part of an English Parish family. Integration is of mutual benefits and he was gratified to see our efforts bearing fruits. 

The Archbishop then gave a brief account of the life and work of Pope Benedict XVI. It was as much a personal account as an historic narrative. At times we were privileged to gain an insight into their working relationship, and even a glimpse of a mentoring relationship.  Archbishop Savio was consecrated a Bishop by His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI and they had collaborated on many fronts. Archbishop Savio fondly recounted a warm glow on his head when the Late Pope laid his hands on him during the Consecration rite.

For a number of years, Archbishop Savio was the Secretary of the then Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples. 

In regaling his many encounters with the Late Pope, His Eminence Cardinal Joseph Zen SDB was mentioned often.  The Archbishop and the Cardinal are of course both Salesians.

We were reminded that the Late Pope never wavered in His love for the Church in China. The Archbishop referred us to the special prayers to Our Lady of Sheshan (a Marian Shrine, where a Basilica in Shanghai is dedicated to Our Lady, Mary Help of Christians), which Pope Benedict XVI had composed in May 2008. The Late  Pope asked the Universal Church to pray on May 24 each year, the Memorial of Mary Help of Christians, for the Church in China.

It was an inspirational day, a fun and celebratory time and above all, a faith reinforcing day for everyone of OLEM and beyond.

Bishop Peter Collins said: “I am delighted that the Diocese of East Anglia has been graced with a visit by the Apostolic Nuncio to Malta and I rejoice to acknowledge that the Catholic parishes of Cambridge have extended a warm welcome to those whose first language is Cantonese.

“Although I could not attend personally, I offered a warm welcome to the Apostolic Nuncio as he prepared for his visit to Cambridge,” said Bishop Peter.  

Pictured above is Archbishop Savio being greeted at OLEM in Cambridge by Mgr Provost Eugene Harkness and, below, them both with the Cantonese and parish congregation after Mass.