HONG KONG – The 11th World Chinese Bible Congress was a significant occasion, which brought together Chinese Catholics from around the world to celebrate and appreciate the treasure of the Word of God.
The congress, held in Hong Kong from Nov 22-26, was made even more special as it celebrated the 50th anniversary (1968-2018) of the first completed Chinese Catholic Bible (Studium Biblicum Franciscanum Version).
The congress began with an opening Mass celebrated by Bishop of Hong Kong, Bishop Michael Yeung Ming Cheung, and concelebrated by Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle and priests from the participating countries.
The event was well-represented by clergy, religious and lay people from China, Taiwan, Malaysia, Australia, Philippines, Singapore, Indonesia, Cambodia, and Canada.
The theme chosen for the congress was “Journeying with the Word, Living out Faith, Hope and Love”. The Gospel that laid the foundation for this important occasion was taken from the Gospel of Matthew on the Sowing of the Seeds (Mt 13:1-9.18-23).
Bishop Yeung stressed that we are to be the rich soil to receive, appreciate and nurture the seeds (Word of God) that are sown, so it will grow and bear fruit and yield a hundred, or sixty, or thirtyfold.
The chalice that was once used by the recently canonized Pope St Paul VI, being the only Pope who made his pastoral visit to Hong Kong, was used during the opening Mass.
The five plenary sessions were: 1) Reflection on the Theme of the Congress by Auxiliary Bishop John Ha (Hong Kong); 2) The Word animates the Pastoral Works of the Church by Cardinal Tagle (the Philippines); 3) The Word guides the path to Holiness by Fr Tarsis Sigho (Taiwan); 4) The Spirituality of Mother Mary and the Word by Fr Mi Shen (China) and 5) The Word inspires New Evangelization by Fr Francis Ching (Canada).
These sessions led to the common message of “Ignorance of the Scriptures is ignorance of Christ”, calling for all to make the Bible the inspiration of every ordinary and extraordinary pastoral outreach, leading to a greater awareness of the person of Christ, who reveals the Father and is the fullness of divine revelation. (Verbum Domini 2010 #73, Pope Benedict XVI).
In addition to that, Fr Jan J. Stefanów, the General Secretary, was present to share the works by the Catholic Biblical Federation.
There were also time allocated for daily Eucharist, diocesan reports on Biblical works, platforms to share creative ideas on New Evangelization and Lectio Divina.
The Pectoral Cross of Pope St Paul VI, along with the relics of Blessed Fr Allegra and St Josef Freinademetz were displayed throughout as a visible sign of their presence with the participants.
Participants found the congress fruitful and inspiring, and were given parting gifts of salt (packet) which they were reminded to be ‘salt of the earth’ and seed (engraved with wordings ‘The Living Word’) which they were to plant in ‘good soil’. New aspirations were also drawn to put their respective “pastoral commitment to emphasize the centrality of the Word of God in the Church’s life.” (Verbum Domini 2010 #73). – Serena Wong
What Congress participants say
WHAT impressed me most was the fast growing church in China and its active participation. Through their congress report presentation and group sharing, I have come to realize that the Kingdom of God grows silently in the hearts of men who thirst for the Word of God despite suppressive conditions to witness for Christ freely.
Catherine Wan, one of the five delegates from KK Archdiocese, who attended the Chinese Bible Congress held in Hong Kong Nov 22-26, shared her impressions of the Bible Congress.
I have also come to appreciate the sacrifice of early priests/missionaries who made the Chinese translation of the bible possible. The golden jubilee of its publication on 25 December 1968 was commemorated during the Congress.
The vocation story of a foreign missionary to China was even made into a skit by Hong Kong parishioners, showing the dynamic evangelization by the inspired lay faithful, which was saved in USB and given to each participant as a souvenir.
Another gift, a seed with the engraved wordings The Living Word on its endocarp, provided an apt reminder to the participants to grow with the Living Word daily in order to bear the good fruits of virtues in life.
Another participant from Sacred Heart Cathedral parish, Serena Wong was most struck by Cardinal Luis Tagle’s quoting Deut 10:19 “And you are to love those who are foreigners, for you yourselves were foreigners in Egypt”, imploring us who were present to reach beyond whom we know.
It moved my heart, Serena recalled, and moved many to tears as well, as he shared his personal experience in this regards.
For me, it has brought a tangible and significant vision of what “Love your neighbor” means.