A major powerhouse of the local Church celebrated a milestone on May 21 that was as much about celebrating the future ahead as it was about celebrating a proud past.
The Chinese Catholic Community marked its 35th anniversary with Mass at St Kevin’s Parish, Eastwood, followed by culinary festivities in Strathfield.
The largely Cantonese-speaking community received messages of congratulations from no lesser figures than the Prime Minister of Australia, Malcolm Turnbull; the Opposition Leader, Bill Shorten, and the NSW Premier and Deputy Premier, among other civic, business and religious leaders (including Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP and Cardinal John Tong, the Bishop of Hong Kong).
More than 200 people attended the anniversary Mass, including NSW Minister for Finance, Victor Dominello, Federal MP John Alexander and State MP Damien Tudehope, as well as members from the Order of the Holy Sepulchre and representatives from Catholic Chinese communities from other states.
Bishop Richard Umbers was the principal celebrant, and was joined in concelebrating the Mass by parish priest Fr Martin Maunsell and Frs Noel Connolly and Patrick McInerney.
Bishop Umbers congratulated the community on its spirit and its many works – which have included catechesis for adults and children, youth groups, prayer activities, family retreats, social activities, and works of mercy such as visiting hospitals and homes.
The community also operates a Chinese language school – in Cantonese and Mandarin – and CCC retirement homes in Toongabbie.
Bishop Umbers challenged congregants to turn their minds to making Christ incarnate in a changing social landscape. He also exhorted people to harness social media in sharing Christ with others and to think about ways of reaching out to the wider, non-Chinese society around them – one which is becoming less and less religious.
In his own message for the occasion, CCC President Joe Kwan said it was a happy occasion for the community, which had had its ups and downs in an overarching story of growth: “God’s love is prevailing in our Community, and we can achieve its growth as God’s family.”
A history of the CCC, which appeared in a commemorative magazine, said: “We believed in evangelisation. Bravely, despite objections … we decided to set up a laity-based religious organisation to achieve our goals – strengthening both our faith and evangelisation.
“(We) joined a group of faithful (who believed) that we can help both ourselves and others to jointly strengthen our faith.”