Sr. Maureen and I left for Jiangmen by bus on Aug 20. We stopped at Huanggang border and then continued the journey to Jiangmen for total around 4.5 hour trip. I stayed with Immaculate Heart of Mary sisters at the Cathedral compound for ten days http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roman_Catholic_Diocese_of_Jiangmen. The compound consists of two floors ex seminary, three floors Bishop’s house, four floors convent, one floor Cathedral, and one floor guard room.
The sisters prays Cantonese Divine Office besides Cantonese Rosary and Divine Mercy, so I joined them for afternoon and evening prayers, and prayed English morning and night prayers privately. Cantonese daily Masses and Cantonese–Mandarin Sunday Mass were celebrated by Bishop Liang. He and six other priests manage 36 churches in the diocese. There are 25 sisters including three elderly sisters and three sisters on further study, mostly work as pastoral sisters by two. Several churches only have four Sunday Masses during the year (Christmas, Easter, Pentacost and Assumption) and one priest responsible for 6-7 churches including Bishop Liang.
Mother Superior Sr. Li, Deacon Huang and I visited two elderly in a nursing home nearby and attended a funeral service led by Fr. Yang in a funeral parlor. All of us wore a white cloth in our arm as sign of grieving and then the family invited for supper together besides giving red envelope, peanut and candy. Sr. Li and I also visited another elderly woman in her house.
Sr. Ke accompanied me to stay overnight in Heshan, around 2 hours by bus. Sr. Qi was alone during our visit as another sister went to another Church; they responsible for three Churches. The Rosary Church is located in a village, all of the residents are Catholics. In 1966, around 100 parishioners moved from another Catholic village, and now there are around 200 parishioners. We visited several parishioner, most of them are elderly so they only speak either Cantonese or Hakka. There is Cantonese-Hakka prayer of St. Bridget http://www.catholic-forum.com/saints/pray0345.htm that night. After our Mandarin Divine Office, several elderly attended Cantonese morning prayers including Rosary. An elderly woman invited us for her birthday celebration so Sr. Qi led a Cantonese prayer in her house before going to the restaurant nearby by a motorcycle with six seats in the back. One of her daughter recognized me as she lives in Macau, finally she remembered after knowing that I am an Indonesian as she knows an Indonesian seminarian Toto, SVD who was in Macau. Small world! Fr. Yang invited Sr. Ke and me for supper as we visited St. Joseph Church in Jiangmen downtown. He told me that Fr. Paul is an Indonesian born Chinese priest of Jiangmen who passed away in 1996.
Bishop Liang, Sr. Li, Deacon Huang and I visited leprocy center in Cangshan, around 3 hours by bus. Bishop Liang celebrated the Cantonese anticipated Sunday Mass. Around 60 out of 80 residents are Catholics. After lunch with the volunteers, we went back to Jiangmen.
After Sunday Mass, Bishop Liang, Sr. Ke, three parishioners and I went to Shunde, around one hour by car. We dropped Bishop Liang at Sacred Heart Church and then visited Holy Family Church in Foshan. A couple invited us for lunch, he said that they are so grateful to God as his wife is healthy even though she only has one kidney since six years ago. I was moved to hear his Cantonese sharing which was translated by Sr. Ke. After lunch, we visited Sacred Heart Church and then joined Bishop Liang and one parishioner visited Rosary Church in Shunde, which was built in 1929 and couldn’t use anymore due to safety reason. After supper at Foshan, Bishop Liang celebrated Cantonese Sunday Mass at Holy Family Church, which was arranged that afternoon as Sunday Mass usually on third Sundays. The parishioners sang several prayers around 45 minutes while waiting the confession and the Mass was one hour late.
I attended Mandarin Memorial Mass for one of the elderly celebrated by Bishop Liang and then joined the sisters cleaned, mostly from dried leaves and branches, the former Maryknoll Sisters convent. It’s the number five building in a big school compound next door, our sisters left it as they were expelled from the country during revolution and never came back. The big compound were belongs to Maryknoll, and then the government only gave back the convent to the Immaculate Heart of Mary Sisters, but they never occupied the convent, and then it was rented out to the school. The story of our sisters in South China during Revolution in China can be read at: http://www.maryknollsocietymall.org/chapters/978-1-57075-934-5.pdf
I got lower back pain after sneezing so Sr. Chen did a reflexiology massage for two days. Thanks God it works!
Sr. Li, two sisters from Shanghai and I had a dim sum lunch in a park on our way to visit St. Matthew Church in Xin Hui around one and a half hour by bus. Sr. Huang and one of the sisters also work for another three Churches.
Usually parishioners call the sisters with “阿姑” from “姑娘” (for single woman) to show closer relationship.
I left Jiangmen for Luo Hu on Aug 30 with gratitude for the warm welcome and hospitality of Bishop Liang, Deacon Huang, all the sisters and people whom I met. Even though I couldn’t speak Cantonese/Hakka, I learned a lot from this trip including their faithfulness to keep their faith amidst the limitation of the priests and sisters aviability. The pictures of the visit can be seen at: http://share.shutterfly.com/action/welcome?sid=0EbuWrFm4ZM2Fo
I visited Holy Family Chapel in Luo Hu to meet Fr. Lu regarding the possibility to help. The Chapel was opened last year. All Masses are celebrated in Mandarin as Fr. Lu is from Handan Diocese-Hebei.
Hong Kong， 31 Aug, 2012
Sr. Anastasia B. Lindawati, M.M.
Let’s do simple things with simple love to make God’s love visible