Several parishioners of Holy Family and I went to Kuitan-Jieyang （葵潭-揭阳） to attend the sacrament of matrimony ceremony of Ms. Yue, one of the readers, on January 4. It took around 3 hours by car for the six of us and two hours by high speed train for the two of us. We had dinner with Ms. Yue’s family and friends before going to Sacred Heart of Jesus Church. The sacrament of matrimony was held before the regular Sunday evening Mass. The parishioners chanted prayers in Chaozhou language （潮州话）before the sacrament of Matrimony ceremony and after the Mass. The Church was full and there was children choir including the organist and the commentator. As I looked at the children choir, I was surprise to see Mr. Li, one of the minor seminarians who visited Holy Family Church last year. Later on I knew it’s his hometown.
Three readers of the Holy Family Church, in red blouses and red tie, were in charge for the readings in Putonghua. The Mass was bilingual Chaozhou language and Putonghua. The Shenzhen parishioners asked me to stay because there was no high speed train to Shenzhen anymore and there is enough room only for seven persons on the car. I agreed to stay even though I didn’t prepare for staying. I stayed at the guest room at the third floor of the rectory and convent building next to the Church building.
The bride and the groom went to their parents’ home. The groom and his family picked the bride up the next afternoon then they would go for the wedding banquette held by the groom’s family in the evening. It’s a customs that the parents and siblings of the bride do not attend the bridal banquette. The bride usually wears red gown and will go to her parents’ home （回娘家）on the third or twelve days later.
I attended Chaozhou Mass the next morning. Once again, Fr. Ceng introduced me after the Mass in Chaozhou language. After breakfast prepared by Sr. Chen, Fr. Ceng, Mr. Wang and I went to Da Keng Tou-Jieyang （大坑头-揭阳） to send three big holy pictures for the Church. All of the residences (around 300-400 persons) of this small village are Catholics. They destroyed the old Church and have a temporary Church building as they are building a two floor Church on the same compound. Several workers are local women.
We stopped at a parishioners’ house on the way to bless a cemetery lot in the middle of Longan farm. After having gongfu tea and lunch at two different parishioners’ house, we went to Bailing-Jieyang （白领-揭阳）.
The residence of Bailing village is around 5,000 persons and they are all Catholics. We went to pay tribute to one of the residences and then went to Fr. Ceng’s parents’ house while waiting the funeral service. Several older people came to have gongfu tea and chat. Most of them could only speak Chaozhou language. A man lighted firecrackers and threw it on the ground as the opening of funeral procession to the Church, followed by a marching band, the coffin, and the family. After the funeral service, the marching band gave a tribute and then the coffin was brought in the similar order including the firecrackers but longer route procession while chanting prayers using loudspeaker. Mr. Wang and I joined the procession half way and went to Church. Mr. Wang said several parishioners went to Church three times a day to pray, especially the rosary. There were several elderly people praying. We wait at Fr. Ceng’s house as he was going to baptize a child. After having lunch at the Church hall prepared by the family, Mr. Li showed me the memorial pictures of 7 priests from this village. The Church hall is located behind the Church and can hold 15 tables of 10 persons. Usually the family prepares meals three times a day since one day before the funeral service.
Fr. Ceng, Mr. Wang, Mr. Li and I went to Epiphany Church Chikeng-Shanwei （赤坑-汕尾）and then having dinner with Fr. Yao, Fr. Li, Sr. Chen at one of the parishioners’ house. We went back to Church for Chaozhou Mass. Fr. Yao is the pastor of this area and he takes care of 25 Churches and chapels. Sr. Chen and I stayed overnight at a parishioner’s house.
The Church was opened at 6:00 a.m. on January 6 and parishioners chanted the morning’s prayer in Chaozhou language. It's the Foundation Day of Maryknoll Sisters! The Mass began at 7:00 a.m. and the Church was full both inside and outside. They came from this small village and the surrounding area as that’s the customs on the Feast Day. There was podrige available for all parishioners in the Church compound. They lighted a lot of firecrackers in front of the Church compound.
After brunch at a parishioner’s house, we went to Immaculate Heart of Mary Church at Niu Pi Di-Shanwei （牛皮地-汕尾）. Fr. Ceng, Mr. Wang and Mr. Li dropped me at Lufeng （陆峰）train station as I went back to Shenzhen then Hong Kong.
I am grateful for this opportunity to visit several Churches in this rural area to see the life and devotions of these long generation Catholics and also their warm welcome and generosity. Many young people went to the big cities for study or job. Around 60-70% of the parishioners of Holy Family are Chaozhou people. Mr. Li said that he can’t chant the prayer with the Chi Keng people because there are slightly different dialects in this area.
Here is the link of the pictures: http://share.shutterfly.com/
Hong Kong, January 8, 2015
Sr. Anastasia B. Lindawati, M.M.
Let’s do simple things with simple love to make God’s love visible