I was born of Catholic parents and grew up in the parish of Our Lady of China, a Salesian Parish. I studied at the Maryknoll Convent School with the Maryknoll sisters, and enjoyed the 12 years of my primary and secondary schooling with them. I graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Computer Science and in 2018 completed my Master in Psychology (Child development) at the University of New South Wales, Australia.
My career with young people started several years ago. I began working as a volunteer assisting different youth programs in the Salesian Youth Ministry Office. I was then appointed as the Youth Ministry Coordinator in the same office. It has been eight years of rewarding ministry.
During my teenage years, I did not realize how the Salesian educational method and spirituality inspired and influenced my life. Thanks to the many Salesians who accompanied me, I have become who I am today. Inspired by the Preventive System I strive to journey with young people who are talented and creative. I am able to share with them and even to help them through their ups and downs.
Dealing with young people, I realize that prayer forms an important part. The adoration of the Blessed Sacrament offers a special time of silence, reflection and peace for me and for the young. Receiving Jesus in the Holy Communion is another moment of grace. Regardless who a young person is, he may or may not belong to the Catholic faith, has been violent or destructive, abusive or dominant. Once he is at prayer and put himself before the Lord, he is a ‘kid’ looking at his ‘Father’. As children of God our eyes well up with gratitude, remorse and love.
Once, at a Youth Training Camp, organizing the Sacrament of Reconciliation, I prayed specially for a young person, that he may be a good Catholic again. Before going for confession, he spent nearly three hours in adoration. God’s grace is abundant. He only wants us to take that step to come close to him.
A Salesian once told us, “Don Bosco invites you to be devoted to Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, the Sacrament of Reconciliation and Our Blessed Mother. Experience it yourself and God will do the rest”. This has been a reality in my life and in the lives of the many young people I encounter.
In April this year, I got the chance of being an observer at the Provincial Chapter 2019, representing the lay mission partners. My joy knew no bounds, when I was told that I will be representing the EAO Region as a Lay Mission Partner at the GC28. I feel like I am not capable of shouldering this important task. I turn to God for guidance as I reflect on the theme of the forthcoming General Chapter: “What kind of Salesians for the youth of today?”
During the protest movement in Hong Kong, I realize that we need to help the youth build up their value system, which guides them to make the right decisions at the right time. Being a Catholic organization, we should relate values with the teaching of the Church. There are challenges, of course. Firstly since various ideas diffuse in the social media, young people are easily influenced by the mainstream and secular teachings against the Church. Secondly, due to the lack of capable personnel, it is not easy to recruit someone to accompany our young people, assist them to look in depth the current situation in the light of the Church’s teachings. I look forward with hope that as I will meet and encounter people gathered into a single Salesian family from all around the world at GC28, I may gain a wider vision, and learn to journey with our young people here in Hong Kong.
I wish to journey hand in hand with the Salesians in the Province of China to reach out and help our young people.
Fr Ambrose Pereira, SDB