Filipinos in Hong Kong celebrated a thanksgiving Mass on Sunday, June 13, for the 500th anniversary of Christianity in the Philippines. The Mass was headed by John Cardinal Tong Hon, the apostolic administrator of St. Francis Church under the Diocese of Hong Kong.
In his homily, Cardinal Tong thanked Filipino migrant workers for sharing the faith with the citizens of Hong Kong and bringing joy to the country’s Church. (Read: The Pope’s Message to Filipinos for 500 Years of Christianity in PH)
“It is God’s great design that the Catholic faith brought by the missionaries to your country has been spreading over the past 500 years,” the cardinal said. “With God’s blessing, you have also shared the Christian faith with the Chinese families in Hong Kong through your service and your loving presence,” he added.
Also present during the Mass were Msgr. Javier Herrera Corona and Msgr. Alvaro Lzurieta y Sea from the Holy See Study Mission (Hong Kong); Fr. Jyothi Manohar, parish priest; Fr. Timothy Yan Ho-fung, assistant parish priest; and Fr. Jay Flandez, chaplain to Filipinos.
Testimony of Christianity
During the Mass, Cardinal Tong recalled the story of a Filipina domestic worker who earned a good relationship with her Chinese employer and their family. He said that this friendship is a testimony of the Christian faith that was shared between two cultures.
“From their friendship, we can appreciate how much the faith of the Filipina influenced her employer,” he said. (Read: 5 Catholic Saints Who Were Migrants Back in the Days)
The cardinal also expressed his empathy for Filipino workers who left their families in the Philippines to earn a living in a distant country. He said that with the COVID-19 pandemic, many are being compelled to take risks for their loved ones.
“Your discreet and hardworking example has become a testimony of the Christian faith to many people, especially to those who have not yet embraced the faith,” the cardinal said.
Celebration of Faith
The Mass opened with a dance performance by members of the English parish council. They celebrated with the official mission song of 500 Years of Christianity in the Philippines, “We Give Our Yes.” (Watch: The Official Lyric Video for ‘500 Years of Christianity’ Song)
The choir members, from both the Chinese- and English-speaking communities of the parish, were also dressed in traditional Filipino attire. This was to showcase the unity of the two communities in the parish.
Following the Mass, attendees were treated to a video presentation about the historic moments of Christianity in the Philippines— from the first Mass held in 1521 and the martyrdom of St. Lorenzo Ruiz in 1637, to the People Power Movement supported by Jaime Cardinal Sin in 1986 and the World Youth Day gathering in 1995. (Read: The 500-Year History of Catholicism in the Philippines)
The celebration surely reignited the faith among Filipino workers in Hong Kong. According to Cecilia Golez, one of the event attendees, the Mass allowed her to feel welcomed by the people of Hong Kong. “This Mass also showed that we are never forgotten,” she said.
As of writing, there are approximately 130,000 Filipino workers in Hong Kong. The number makes up for the largest ethnic minority in the country.