Hong Kong (Fides Service) – “We are delighted. This is a sign of the maturity of our local Church. Concern for the young Churches of Africa is a sign of growth: when a church is missionary it means that it is dynamic and lively”. This was how Father Lawrence Lee, chancellor of Hong Kong diocese, commented the sending of the first local diocesan priest on mission to Africa. Father Paul Kam Po-wai, aged 38, assistant priest at St John Baptist church in Hong Kong, is about to depart for Tanzania where he will work for three years. The solemn Mission Sending ceremony took place in St John Baptist church with the local parish community. The Mass was presided by Bishop of Hong Kong Joseph Zen who gave Father Paul the mission crucifix symbol of his mission. In his homily the Bishop asked the local community to accompany Father Paul with their prayers. To Father Paul he said “show the people of Tanzania that we are their brothers and sisters”.
Father Paul was ordained in 1988 he has visited missions in India and Nepal. In 1999 he went to Tanzania for a month to help with the work of providing spiritual and material assistance in a local parish. He returned with one desire, to go on mission to that country. To prepare properly he took a course in Swahili. He will work with Maryknoll missionaries carrying out pastoral ministry and visiting the sick.
Many in Hong Kong diocese hope that others will follow the example of Father Paul. Speaking to seminarians, priests and religious men and women at a meeting at St Patrick’s parish Father Paul encouraged them to respond to their missionary calling: “Hong Kong has received many missionaries now is the time to send some of its own. Every Christian is called to be a missionary”.
Father Paul is Hong Kong’s first diocesan priest to be sent on mission but the territory has already eight lay members of Hong Kong Lay Missionary Association, established in 1988, working in Cambodia, Mauritius, Kenya and Zimbabwe. PA (Fides Service 16/7/2003 EM lines 30 Words: 360)