FP Macau: Don Sassi visits the Paulines in the 'Gateway to China'

Upon the invitation of the Bishop of Macau and with the recommendation from the SSP General Government to start an apostolate of presence in China, the Society of St. Paul established a missionary community in Macau on March 7, 1987.  The community was later added to the SSP Philippine circumscription.

Macau was a former Portuguese colony but it was handed back to China on 20 December 1999. Macau operates under the "one country, two systems" policy and it enjoys a high degree of autonomy until at least 2049, fifty years after the transfer.


January 25 – Feast of St Paul 

The SSP Superior General Don Silvio Sassi, Fratel Walter Rodriguez, and Fr. Ruben Areno celebrated the Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul with the Pauline Family at the Retreat House managed by the Anunciatini in Coloane Island, Macau.  The day was full of fraternal sharing and camaraderie capped with a sumptuous meal Chinese-style.

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January 26  – Inside China

Chinese friends organized for the Visitors a Cultural Tour to the Zili Diaolou or fortified watchtowers  — a cluster of houses found in Kaiping, Guangdong Province. Kaiping has traditionally been a region of major emigration abroad and a melting pot of ideas and trends brought back by overseas Chinese who returned. The Diaolou were fortress-like buildings constructed with a dual function in mind: for housing and as a defensive structure against brigands.

In the afternoon, the group dropped by the Kong-Mun Diocese in China and greeted the Bishop elect Rev. Fr. Leong Kin Sam in the newly renovated church.  The Chinese Vicar explained the slow growth and rebuilding of the faith that had withstood the changes of times.

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January 27  – Meeting with the Bishop of Macau

After an inspection of the dual heritage (Chinese and Portuguese) at the Macau Museum near the ruins of St. Paul Cathedral, the Don Silvio Sassi, Fratel Walter Rodriguez, Fr. Ruben Areno and the Pauline Priests in Macau paid a visit to the Bishop j25é Lai Hung-seng D.D., and Father Joao Evangelista Lau Him-sang, the parish priest of the Cathedral of the Nativity of Our Lady.

From there they made a brief stop at the A Ma Temple — a 7,000-square meter cultural complex celebrates the beloved deity's legend. Close-by is the world's tallest statue of the seafarer’s goddess A-Ma (also known as Tian Hou), which stands on a 170-metre high peak on a mountaintop on Macau's Coloane Island.

The day closed with a supper shared with the Daughters of St. Paul Macau community; and a brief stop at The Venetian.

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January 28 – SSP Community Meeting at the Yee Cheong Garden.

The three Pauline priests report to the Visitators about their mission performed in various ways: Fr.  Ramon  A.  Manalo acts as the delegate of the Provincial Superior. He takes care of St. Francis Xavier Church, a quasi-parish in Coloane. Fr.  Albino Bento Pais is the editor-in-chief of “O Clarim”, a diocesan weekly bulletin which caters to the Portuguese community.  Fr. Edgar P. Pasaporte is the Parochial Vicar at the Macau Cathedral, and acts as the bursar and secretary of the SSP community. The China Mission is complex and needs to be seen from inside; but the prospects and the summons to evangelization is vast and calls for young and zealous missionaries.

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Reflection on the General's Visit (Sr. Necitas Derama – PDDM Hongkong)

The celebration of the Conversion of St Paul was particularly meaningful for us Paulines of Macau and Hongkong. It began with the Eucaristic celebration with the presence of our 5 Pauline priests: SSP Superior general Fr. Silvio Sassi, SSP Provincial Superior of Philippine-Macau Fr. Ruben Areno, and the three SSP priests of Macau, Fr. Ramon Manalo, Fr. Albino Pais and Fr. Edgar Pasaporte.

In the homily Fr. Sassi thanked every member of the Pauline Family missionaries of the 2nd generation in China for whatever we have done till this moment. He presented to us the desires of the Pauline Family to respond to the various needs in the mission in the different parts of the world.

In the encounter that followed, he listened to the sharing of what the Pauline Family is accomplishing in China. This was begun by the Daughters of St.Paul: Sr. Grace shared where they are now in their plan and and concrete irradiation in some part of mainland China through one of their sisters.  She said there are many things we can do as a Pauline Family there.
In their own little way the  PDDM also shared what they are doing like the visits that some sisters did in these past 3 years to share our liturgica-Eucharistic spirituality in two provinces in mainland China, including the hosting of three Chinese Sisters in the PDDM house in Antipolo, Philippines for three months last year to share with them our Spirituality and Apostolic Experiences. I also mentioned the promising Chinese vocations we have now: 1 junior sister who is in Italy, and 3 pre-novices in the Philippines.

The presence of the members of the Annunziatine (IOLA) is expressed in their ministry to the Chinese priests and lay people from China coming for the retreat in the House of Prayer in Macau. Fr. Edgar and Fr. Manalo also shared their experiences  in mainland including the invitation of the Bishop of Macau to Fr. Manalo to be with him in Beijing.

The Sup. General's opportunity to be with us and to listen to us gave him all the more the conviction of moving on in our Pauline Family Project for China . He indicated that before plunging on to this he considers it important to take a serious study of St. Paul from bible scholars as this will allow us to see more the radicality of St. Paul as a missionary and as an Apostle.

On the practical level, he also sees the reality that we need to challenge young and committed missionaries to respond to this mission as the present composition of members continue to mature.

The following day we went for a day trip to China at Guangzhou for cultural exposure and visit to a Parish Church of Kwong Muhn whose Vicar general for some years will soon be ordained bishop with the recognition of  Pope Benedict XVI..
Everything indeed was a beautiful experience for all of us.