Salesians arrived in Hong Kong some 100 years ago. What is the main field of the Salesian mission now?
The main field of the Salesian mission now according to our provincial chapter is to focus on the poor young people in need. In 2014, China province began a new charismatic mission to reopen the boarding section in Aberdeen Technical School (ATS). This boarding section particularly helps 120 young people with special education needs (SEN), who are having difficulties with their studies, family and social life. The section also targets students from single-parent families or having parenting difficulties. We realize even society also needs this kind of service to support parents to accompany their children. Therefore, the charismatic presence of ATS is not only the service for young people in need, but also for Hong Kong society. Meanwhile, this boarding section provides opportunities for senior aspirants to discern their vocation by assisting the boarders in ATS and living in a Salesian community. The Salesians accompany them to assist the boarders so as to help them to discover themselves, experience the Salesians charism in community life including regular lessons, sharing and friendly chat with the Rector. The senior aspirants will be more knowledgeable about Salesian vocations and their suitability to become one. We also have two parishes, thirteen schools (Elementary & High Schools), youth centers scattered in Hong Kong Island, Kowloon and the New Territories.
After ordination you were in ATS boarding school. What makes it special and attracts aspirants?
After one year of my priestly ordination, my former provincial, Fr. Lanfranco Fedrigotti, asked me to serve the province as the one in charge of vocation animation, and later on to be the vice-rector of ATS. To make the Salesians special and attractive to aspirants, we need to listen to and provide a good learning experience for them which helps them to discern their vocation, therefore each Salesian in the community must give sufficient spiritual, human and pedagogical support for their discernment, and the Rector of ATS must take an important responsibility. Moreover, I have invited the senior aspirants to translate the “Guidelines on the Aspirantate Experience” into Chinese. When studying the guidelines attentively, not only can the aspirants prepare for their pre-novitiate in an English-speaking country in the Philippines (FIN), they will also have complete awareness and reflections of the formation experience they were going through. Therefore, this formative experience attracts our aspirants and is not only based on their daily contact with young people, but also the intellectual, spiritual and community accompaniment in ATS.
Is there a need for missionaries for Hong Kong-Macau? What would be the necessary qualities?
There is a pressing need for missionaries for Hong Kong and Macau. In particular, we need missionaries who are communicative and collaborative with confreres and our lay mission partners. The necessary qualities of a missionary for Hong Kong and Macau is first to manage Cantonese. There are universities in Hong Kong which provide complete resources for missionaries to know and to practise our language. Second, since Hong Kong is an international city, we have many professional and experienced lay mission partners working in different sectors in our presence, so we need missionaries who are able to communicate and collaborate with them. A zealous missionary who is good at communication can yield twice the result of missionary animation of our presence with half the effort. We need missionaries who can synergize with our missions, including the young people and lay mission partners.
This year the CIN province is ready to welcome the new Salesians after their first profession. What is the vocation ministry in HK looking like?
I believe Fr. Antonio Leung, Youth Pastoral Delegate and in charge of Vocation Animation for our province will make a nice arrangement for our new four Salesians. Fr. Leung is a good mentor and also very experienced in helping young confreres to organize different activities for Vocation Animation. One of the most important events in vocation ministry is the Monthly vocation camp in Hong Kong, Taiwan and Macau in which we involved our young confreres organizing different programs for sharing, praying and spiritual direction with our young people. Our young confreres will experience how to plan an activity with a vocation animation dimension and also to share the challenge they have encountered when accompanying young people who want to discern their vocations.
And special greeting for novices and young confreres in the EAO region?
I remember there are lots of wonderful experiences living at the Salesian University, Rome, with some EAO confreres. I believe we have a lot of common experience between Hong Kong - Macau and other countries in our region, for example, the concern for social justice, the common good, civil rights and the reasonable treatment of workers in society or the care of young people in need. You are always welcome to join us to serve our young people and most importantly to make the Dream of Don Bosco in China come true. Thank you!