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New East Anglia Cantonese Chaplaincy is a pioneer

The Diocese of East Anglia Cantonese Chaplaincy came of age at a special Mass at St John’s Cathedral in Norwich on Saturday June 29, reports Dominic Chung.

The Cantonese community came away from the cathedral with springs in their steps, reinvigorated on their journey of faith. With Bishop Peter Collins’ encouragement and blessing, and under the care of Canon John Minh, the East Anglia Cantonese Chaplaincy is up and running in the glorification of God. We have been 27 months or so in the making, and the Bishop enabled us to come of age. That is the key takeaway of the day.

The Diocese of East Anglia launched the first Cantonese Chaplaincy in the country, on the day that the Bishops Conference of England and Wales agreed to endorse a network of Hong Kong Cantonese Catholic chaplaincies or communities.

How fitting it was that on the Solemnity of SS Peter and Paul we were sent forth to be missionaries, to evangelize not just amongst the Cantonese communities but to reach out to all those who are from diverse cultural background and of other nationalities. To quote from the Bishop’s homily:” We communicate with each other through Jesus Christ, who was sent by the Father and with the Holy Spirit to communicate with us all.”

Over 120 Catholics, Cantonese and local parishioners alike, gathered at the St John the Baptist Cathedral. They came mostly from Cambridge, but a large contingent live in the Norwich area. We had Hong Kong Catholics from Birmingham, Manchester, from Loughborough and from London. Friends from Milton Keynes and Bedford who regularly support us came to Norwich to celebrate the occasion with us also. Diverse yet one as Bishop Peter said in his homily. We joined the Bishop for a Pontifical Mass to celebrate the Solemn Feast of SS Peter and Paul Apostles.

The Mass was bilingual, but it felt like 80% in Cantonese. Bishop Peter prayed a substantial part of the Ordo in Cantonese. That took the congregation by pleasant surprise and drew enthusiastic applause towards the end. I suspect  it would stay in our hearts and minds for a long, long time. His generous pastoral care and attention knew no bound.

I would say as a novice, unlike Canon John Minh who is now an old hand at celebrating Cantonese rites and Mass, Bishop Peter executed the prayers with aplomb. He even chanted the Memorial Acclamation in Cantonese. Alas, pressure of time meant that Bishop Peter could not complete the coaching on the Doxology. This is providence, next year perhaps! Just as implied in our final hymn: “May the Lord bless and keep you. Till we meet again.”

The majestic setting of the cathedral, the seat of our shepherd is awe-inspiring. Many would never have imagined they could sing the Gloria and the Te Deum in Cantonese in a Pontifical Mass celebrated by our Bishop in the Cathedral. It was such a joy and so heavenly.

In the universal prayers, we gave thanks for the Bishop’s 40th anniversary in the priesthood and we prayed for his Episcopal ministry for many years to come.

To conclude the glorious celebration, we presented Bishop Peter with a classic calligraphic scroll, inscribed on which is his Episcopal Motto: Credite in Lucem (信從真光). And we expressed our communion with him by declaring that, as a Good Shepherd knows his sheep, now that we have seen the Bishop in the flesh and heard his voice, we also know him. We will always heed his call.

Like St Peter, we would  forever say to the Lord:” you know we love you!”

Tu es Petrus (教會根基)  – Bishop Peter, we are different, but we are one.

Pictured above and below are pictures from the Cantonese Mass at St John’s Cathedral.

Cantonese Mass St John's Cathedral Norwich June24