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Excitement as Cardinal Tagle shows his face in Hong Kong

HONG KONG (Mabuhay) : The appearance of the archbishop of Manila and the short money favourite for the first Asian pope, Luis Cardinal Tagle, at the 4.00pm Mass at St. Joseph’s in Hong Kong on November 3, brought an unusually festive air to the afternoon Eucharistic celebration.

Cardinal Tagle is in Hong Kong to direct the annual retreat for the priests of the diocese, but took the opportunity to visit some of his country people at the Filipino Mecca of St. Joseph’s.

He was also the guest of honour at a party in the undercroft of the church to celebrate the birthdays of all those in the community who were born in November.

Fresh off the plane from Manila, the cardinal concelebrated the Mass in Tagalog with Father Emil Lim, the chaplain to Filipinos in Hong Kong, and the parish priest, Father Midas Tambot.

In his homily he reflected on the theme of the day, the tax collector, Zacchaeus, who made his name by climbing a tree to get a glimpse of Jesus.

He told the packed church that Zacchaeus is depicted as a dishonest man, who repented of his ways, adding that it is a lesson to all Catholics that they need to involve themselves in all aspects of society, not shy away from what is evil and corrupted, but work to strengthen the virtues that can overcome the things that are wrong.

He called being in Hong Kong and having the opportunity to visit the Filipino community in the territory a joyful event, adding that he believes it can be a strong missionary presence in the city through the good example of being active in Church and faithful to prayer.

He stressed that he believes that this is a true mission, as the people live closely with the locals and they really can make a difference, both for their own welfare and that of their country.

Nevertheless, he told Mabuhay that the tremendous number of people currently working overseas shows the serious problems caused by the lack of decent employment opportunities in The Philippines.

He described this as an alarming problem the government in Manila must address.

The president of the Philippine senate, Franklin Drilon, who was on a visit to Hong Kong, attended the Mass.

The cardinal was visited by the Philippine consul general to Hong Kong, Noel Servigon, when he first arrived. The two had the opportunity to talk with each other for a short time, prior to the Mass.

Swamped by people wanting an op-ed photograph and local media reporters, he was still able to keep the friendly smile on his face.

The assistant parish priest at St. Joseph’s, Father James McAuley, and Canossian Sister Vicky Ramos were also present.

A birthday girl from the Sowers’ Community, Larny Ocana, bubbled at the chance to have a photograph with the cardinal. She said he impressed her with his friendly manner and she felt grateful for the opportunity she had.

Aida Paraggua immediately texted her friends. Lella Adlaw said seeing the cardinal is already a big birthday present, as she thinks the Hong Kong community has been longing for a visit from him.

Father Lim said he has known the cardinal since he was a bishop and sees him as a people person. 

“He does not care about office or titles. He just comes to serve people,” he explained.

Father Lim pointed out that he spent his time walking around among the people and he believes he is a humble and honest person, who shows his real self and speaks with insight. 

 

He added that the cardinal told him he was impressed by the faith of the Filipino community, observing its members as being dedicated to the practice of their faith and regarding the church as their home away from home.

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