2013/03/18 - Circular letter for my colleagues, family and friends

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Circular letter for my colleagues, family and friends, 

The year 2016 has been rich in events and various activities either in Hong Kong or elsewhere.

I have been living in HK since 2012 and though the discovery of the community and its surroundings is an endless one.

The year 2016 started with a trip to  Papousie Nouvelle Guinée (PNG) and ended celebrating a wedding on January the first, near Paris, in a church of the French Vexin. Difficult to get a greater gap in geographical terms as well as pastoral ones. If the trip to PMG had been a missionary discovery and quite an exotic one ( it was a long time since I sung so many Polish Christmas songs, as the first three days had been spent with the Polish missionaries in PNG), the French wedding was a very marking one for me, because of the links I had with the bride’s family -whose parents I married 30years earlier- as well as the place itself, one familiar to me in the past at the time when I used to work  in the Val d’Oise French “department” and where I came back 2 years earlier for another wedding, the one of a couple who  used to work in HK.  Time for cherishing  memories and sharing them.

The life of the Catholic French community in HK, whose happy chaplain I am, was marked this year by the launching of various initiatives aiming to give new structures to its organization as well as its management. The numbers of parishioners in the various activities offered, being in a constant increase since several years, implies a new and deep complete reorganization. Three main factors have accelerated the process: the necessity to keep records of both life of the church and the community, the necessity of self governing as we could no longer rely on the Foreign Missions  in Paris for the bank management (we thank them warmly for the help they gave us) and thirdly the need of legal security  for  the activities we are proposing. Thus a part-time administrative post was offered as well as the creation of a society which would become a charity and so enabled us to deliver financial vouchers for the donations for the campaign of the church offerings. We also decided the creation of a pastoral team which we called “Equipe d’Animation Pastorale or EAP “dedicated to follow the various problems of the community with a shared responsibility between the priest and the laymen. A year later these three organisms are all functioning in a very satisfactory way but demand a lot of investment in time, energy and skills of all. Since the beginning of September I feel quite reassured as regards the future of the community and its capacity in terms of self management and its readiness to answer the demands of the missionaries who will arrive.

One of the main features of French communities abroad is their mobility. Usually departures and arrivals are concentrated during the summer holidays and if it remains true, the past year was marked by changes all over the year .Many families deeply involved in the parish left around Christmas which meant they had to be replaced by the ones staying in before the new comers could be expected to be in charge as they generally need time to get involved being mainly occupied to get settled. So, many changes happened in coordinators and those responsible for baptism, Sunday school, liturgy, accounts, computers…

As for me I still find a great joy in spiritual guidance especially during preparations for the different sacraments, being at the same time open to the desire of adults wishing to have their own guidance for their Christian life. For example: thirty five couples followed by a regular team and whose wedding I celebrated, 400 children and teenagers whose Sunday schools I visited regularly, 70 first communion altogether with some adults, more than 50 christenings to prepare, 15 to celebrate in HK with some adult ones and about 30 confirmations a quarter of which are adult ones. I spend a lot of time to preach retreats in different parts of the island, but everything is done with joy and admiration for all that God can do to open the hearts of those who turn towards Him.

Notwithstanding I have never abandoned the theological study. The biblical group I have been animating for 18 months is the mainstream of deepening the faith exegetic items and the two lectures on the post synodal exhortation on the family, Amoris Latitia by Pope Francis lead me to try and understand the evangelical radical views presented under the news aspects of a pastoral theology of welcoming and discernment in order to help all and particularly those who in a way or other have been hurt by life. But finally who is not?

The year of Mercy, a theme dear to me and for many reasons: first of all because I belong to the Pallotin congregation which has for denomination in France Divine Mercy.Then by the fact that the 2 last years I preached a couple of retreats on this theme, in France but mainly in Asia. And indeed it is this very study- but in a richer form- which is the source of the book about to be printed this spring, without forgetting another book of poetry about my first months in HK written as a travel book, two articles on Christianity and Islam, altogether with my collaboration to a child Catholic review, Patapon, limited at the moment to four letters published in the second part of 2016. During my travel through PNG, I had to help a newly appointed bishop, thanks to, as he used to say, God’s Mercy ,in the mountain on the banks of the Sepik rive, to the opening of the door of the Holy Year Strange as it is, remembering that I missed its opening in HK  cathedral because at the time I was travelling on the continent and no one had any idea that the Pope has stanched a year on the Divine Mercy and though it is such a marvelous theme which can move anyone. The Christian Faith is rich for man’s welfare, man who without a love stronger than death, and forgiveness, cannot proceed fast towards his true destiny.

I have now a double path for my missionary dimension - which I discover more and more as my true vocation .First the spiritual guidance of the French Catholic communities of Asia on account of the world coordination which has its seat in Paris at the French Bishop Conference as well as the guidance of my two colleges living in Viet Nam where they are trying to build a Pallotine presence. Viet Nam where I went several times for very short stays and where I find a deep way of celebrating and living truly the Christian faith as both religious and cultural minorities are able to do. And it is exactly what I am just discovering in India thanks to my 2 travels to Delhi one in April, in order to help the CCFND ( retreats, cathechism,  confessions conferences ) which is still waiting for a chaplain and the second one , a week spent in complete immersion in the circle of expatriates as I was living in their home. On this very occasion I was able to celebrate mass at the Nonciature and admired the stain-window realized after the project drawn by the secretary and which I would like to be put in the book. After attending the meeting organized by my congregation on the Asian missions in the south of India, (Bilaspur) and so well preached by colleges of mine belonging to the parish near Mumbai Airport during my unsuccessful attempt to go to a friend’s ordination who was  ordained bishop that very day, I landed- for at least the weekend in the diocesan seminary of Mumbai where I was welcomed by my Indian homologue who had leant philosophy in Paris. This inconvenient as well as the heatwave quite unusual at the time of the year enables me to write this letter thinking of you and assuring you to be in my prayers which are longer than usual, as the time of discovery goes along with a time of deepening everything in God Almighty.

Looking forward to reading you and if you can give some financial help to the foundation in Vietnam here is the number of our account in Paris, and be assured that the whole sum raised will be given to the charity. 

Rémy Kurowski