Address at the Opening Ceremony of the Mother of God Formation Centre at Kompong Cham, Cambodia on 1 January 2016
Jessica Ho – President of the Hong Kong Catholic Lay Missionary Association
Dear Most Rev Bishop Antony, Fr Francis, Fr Toni, chief and friends of Kompong Cham village, parishioners and friends of the Hong Kong Catholic Lay Missionary Association:
It is our honour to have your presence at the Opening Ceremony of the Mother of God Formation Centre. Thank you very much for joining us to celebrate this special occasion.
Since 1996, the Hong Kong Diocese has been sending lay missionaries to Cambodia through the Hong Kong Catholic Lay Missionary Association. Lucia Wong and Rose Yip were the first two lay missionaries sent to Cambodia in 1996. It has been 20 years and they are still here in Cambodia today.
The purpose of establishing this centre is the formation of lay missionaries from Hong Kong and the formation of the local Catholics in Cambodia. We hope that one day in the future, the Church of Cambodia will send lay missionaries to the other parts of the world to spread the Good News of God’s love and salvation.
Today is not only a milestone of the Hong Kong Catholic Lay Missionary Association, but it is also the New Year Day, the Feast of Mary, the Mother of God, and the World Peace Day. The young Mary said “Yes” to God. Her “Yes” to the call to become the Mother of God and so bring Jesus to this world made salvation possible. This formation centre is named after Mary, the Mother of God because we want this centre to be a centre of faith, a centre of hope and a centre of love.
The Mother of God is a model of faith, hope and love, a model for all missionaries. She was the first disciple. She is a wellspring of peace, a model of strength, gentleness, trust, courage, openness, patience and perseverance. Mary is not only the Mother of God. She is also the mother of the homeless, the dying, the unwed mothers, the disabled, the mentally challenged, the abused, the little ones and the needy. She is a woman of mercy, of faith, of contemplation, of vision, of wisdom and understanding, of grace and truth, pregnant with hope and centred in God. We are blessed to have been chosen to follow in her footsteps to bring Jesus to the world. With the grace of our Lord, we dare to say “yes”, we dare to respond to God’s call to leave our homeland to spread the Good News of peace and joy to the end of the world, to wherever God leads us, and today to Cambodia in Kompong Cham.
We are very pleased to be here with you – our brothers and sisters in the Lord. We hope that our humble presence here is a way to find the loving presence of God among us. We would like to share our lives with you. Life is a gift from God. But it is not a gift until we are willing to accept and to receive what God has given us. It is not a gift until we are ready to share our lives with others. Thank you for giving us a chance to receive and to share. Thank you for letting us be here with you to face various life challenges and to experience God’s blessings.
My heartfelt thanks to Bishop Antony, Bishop Olivier, Bishop Kiki, Fr Francis, Fr Toni and Fr Ashley for their staunch support to our lay missionary work all these years. I must also thank Rose Yip and her husband, Bora. Without her help and availability, this centre would not have been built.
To express how I feel now, I would like to refer to St. Paul’s letter to the Philippians 1:3-6; 9-10, “I thank my God whenever I think of you, and every time I pray for you all, I pray with joy for your partnership in the gospel from the very first day up to the present. I am quite confident that the One who began a good work in you will go on completing it until the day of Jesus Christ comes…. It is my prayer that your love for one another may grow more and more with the knowledge and complete understanding that will help you to determine what is best ….” This centre is built for you, for the people in Kompong Cham and for the pilgrims from Hong Kong. We shall let the Holy Spirit lead us and enlighten us to determine what is best and what to do. As an apostolic community, we will, of course, cooperate with the flow of the Holy Spirit. This centre must be a place for you to find peace, to learn, to reflect and to take a rest in God’s loving presence. May God’s abundance grace and love be always with you all.
Let me conclude with a prayer to ask Mary, the Mother of God to intercede for us. “Mary, Queen of Peace, we entrust our lives to you, shelter us from war, hatred, and oppression. Teach us to live in peace, to educate ourselves for peace. Inspire us to act justly, to revere all God has made. Plant peace firmly in our hearts and in our world. Amen.” Thank you very much and God bless!
(Last modified: 03-12-2019)