On The Shores of Hong Kong
A Missionary Pilgrimage Uniting the Country’s Catholics
“Christ’s resurrection is not an event of the past; it contains a vital power which has permeated this world. Where all seems to be dead, signs of the resurrection suddenly spring up. It is an irresistible force. On razed land life breaks through, stubbornly yet invincibly. Each day in our world beauty is born anew, it rises transformed through the storms of history.”
(Evangelii Gaudium, 276)
23 January • Hong Kong
For the past two years, in honor of the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, the 2-day “ICC Pilgrimage” is open to pilgrims of all ages; drawing people from all local parishes and Hong Kong’s overseas communities to the Immaculate Conception Chapel in Sai Kung Country Park.
Italian missionary priests built the Chapel in 1867, and it prospered for many years. However, when the village became abandoned, so, too, did the Church.
Last year, a group of lay people- supported by Fr. Rémy Kurowski SAC- organized a 2-Day outdoor pilgrimage to the Immaculate Conception Chapel to express unity amongst Hong Kong’s Catholics. Its purpose was to gather as many of the country’s Catholics in one place, so as to symbolize that the People of God are one in Christ. So far, this is the first religious event of its type in Hong Kong.
In 2017, over 100 pilgrims traversed to the Chapel, in accompaniment with five priests of different cultural backgrounds: local, Canadian, Polish, and Indonesian. Bishop Joseph Ha honoured the first pilgrims embarking on this journey by celebrating Saturday Mass. This year, even despite the forecast conditions, pilgrims were still willing to forgo any comfort to encounter the presence of the Lord. What, then, is so special about ICC Pilgrimage ?
ICC Pilgrimage is not your usual weekend getaway to Tai Long Wan beach. The pilgrimage gives an opportunity to live our faith in simplicity, drawing closer to God in the middle of His natural splendors. It introduces pilgrims into an intimate relationship with Christ, enlightening their mind and heart so that- strong in the faith!- they can feel a deeper connection to the Church; one not fleeting, but Eternal.
As it’s is not limited to a particular category of Catholics, local parish or group, but rather every pilgrim willing to immerse himself in the faith, it’s a beautiful testimony to the unity and universality of our Church. Though we all have different ways of life, we are all brothers and sisters, and the baptized children of our Heavenly Father.
Setting up tents, overnight camping on the beach, and campfire gatherings diffuse one Spirit amongst us, amidst the different languages and cultures. While the youngsters enjoy activities catered to their age, the elders divulge into talks of testimonies and Scriptures.
Of all these moments, there are two I believe to be most powerful.
When night falls and nature is silent, the Veneration of the Cross encourages us to sail away in prayer in whatever direction we need; be it healing, reconciliation, or hope. In this moment, we forget the business of both personal and professional life; a rare and welcomed occasion when living in the city center of Hong Kong.
Later on, when we gather around the campfire, the flame reminds us that the Lord came to set up a fire on earth, and this symbolizes the love of mankind. Our praise through songs certainly echoes across the sea and over the mountains which we climbed!
For 2019 and beyond, we can only place the ICC Pilgrimage in God’s hands and surrender to His grace, so that Hong Kong Catholics may all be one; answering the call of Christ for unity. FIAT!
Fr. Rémy Kurowski SAC