Wednesday, 14 May 2003

Beijing (Fides Service) – Since the outbreak of the epidemic of SARS Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, Catholics in Beijing have been fighting the virus with every means possible, prayer in the first place. The Catholic community in mainland China knows that prayer is the most effective means of sustaining those who suffer. On 30 April and again on 5 May special Masses were offered to invoke God’s blessings on the sick and on medical staff. The masses were offered at the Immaculate Mary parish in Beijing, where people have a deep devotion to Mary, whom they have named “sweet mother of those who have SARS and those who are working to fight SARS”. Because of scrupulously followed preventative norms issued to the faithful with regard to attending religious functions, not many people were able to attend the Masses which were celebrated in the parish garden where a small group of faithful represented all the others present in spirit.
Prayers included petitions to the Lord to bless the land of China and its people, to ensure that solidarity and conviction that SARS crisis will be overcome are not lacking and for a speedy return to normality. The faithful prayed for those in front line, doctors and nurses, asking the Lord “to protect these heroic men and women who with dedication and competence save the lives of many of their brothers and sisters”. They prayed also for all those in quarantine, that the Lord may console them and help them to have hope, trust and courage. The community prayed for peace and health of the entire human race, asking the Lord “to fill hearts with Christian love and solidarity so that the world’s common enemy SARS may be conquered”.
On May 12, World Nurses Day, several parish priests visited Catholic homes with relatives working in hospitals. And many Catholics took flowers to hospitals as a sign of gratitude and encouragement to nursing staff. The Catholic community in Beijing made a substantial donation of 25.6 million Renminbi (about 3.2 million Euro), the largest amount offered so far, to the city’s SARS Crisis Centre. (Fides Service 14/5/2003 EM lines 29 Words: 370)