How was your Christmas and New Year celebration?
As for me, I spent Christmas in Shenzhen and then went for a six days pilgrimage with my sisters and friends to the early mission places of Maryknoll Sisters in mainland China: Guilin, Wuzhou, and Jiangmen till Jan 1, 2013. I will write about the pilgrimage later.
I go regularly to Holy Family Chapel Shenzhen every week. My activities are attending the Mandarin Masses, being with the parishioners either in chapel, in their homes or outing including attending the other Churches feast day, praying with whoever needed and also visiting a patient in the hospital besides enjoyed the visit of Sr. Norma, Sr. Maureen, Sr. Arlene and Ms. Sharon.
There was a reflection day on the Year of Faith, which was attended by around 80 parishioners including myself. It’s the first reflection day in the chapel which was opened last July 2011. The reflection day was opened by a prayer led by Fr. Lu and followed by playing games “the blind and the angel”, everyone grouped in two: one as the blind and the other as the angel, the angel led the blind (by covering the eyes) to go around the chapel. Several parishioners were asked to share their experiences as either the blind or the angel. After the reflection read by Xiao Wu, there was small group sharing and then big group sharing. The reflection day ended with singing “主啊！差遣我”(=Lord, send me).
An Advent wreath was placed in the altar as we began the Advent season. On the third Sunday of Advent, several parishioners started to decorate the chapel including setting up the Christmas tree on the compound. Santa Claus, several adults and kids went to the park nearby to distribute booklets and gifts for children. Thirteen people were baptized on Dec 23 including babies and then there was a Taize Prayer, for the first time, in the evening.
There so many people wanted to attend both the evening Mass and vigil Mass on Dec 24 so the ushers should work hard to make sure that the Mass would be as solemn as possible including holding hand to avoid the people to go to the chapel whenever it’s full packed. The front and back of chapel and also the stair to the fourth floor were full packed. Several of them are neither Catholics nor attend Mass regularly. The children attended the evening Mass and sang Christmas songs before getting gift from Fr. Lu and candy from Santa Claus. The choir sang beautifully as they practices regularly including for the Taize prayer. There were nice Mass booklets including the readings both in Chinese and in English for Masses on Dec 24, 25 and Holy Family Feast Day. The chapel was also full packed for the Taize prayer in between the evening and vigil Masses. The readings for Vigil Mass were read both in Mandarin and English. After being blessed at the first floor, the statue of Baby Jesus was brought in procession to the altar (at the third floor) and then was placed in the manger in front of the chapel. The bookstore was moved to the first floor to have bigger space. A sister and a young woman in a wheelchair from Handan diocese sold souvenirs made by their handicapped children centre. As the chapel was empty after the Vigil Mass, I prayed with gratitude in front of the manger as my presence in this chapel is an experience of “Emmanuel, God with us” especially this Christmas season.
The chapel was full packed on Christmas Day Mass even though it’s not public holiday. Fr. Lu delivered his thank you note to all the parishioners who helped to prepare the Christmas celebration. After lunch with Fr. Lu and several parishioners, I left for Hong Kong as two friends from Jakarta and Xiamen were waiting at St. Paul Convent School Chapel where the Indonesian Christmas party was held.
And, last but not the least, I want to thank you for all your support, love, hospitality, gift and especially your prayers during this year and wish you:
Merry Christmas and Happy New YearMay God’s gift of His Son fill you with peace, surround your heart with joy and shelter you with love in 2013
Hong Kong, January 3, 2013
Sr. Anastasia B. Lindawati, M.M.
Let’s do simple things with simple love to make God’s love visible