By Fr. Rockmoore Saniel, OMI
– Originally published on www.rocksaniel.blogspot.com
The Coronavirus pandemic has never spared even the poor on the streets of Hong Kong. Now, poor and abandoned families are growing in number through the ill effects of Covid19. In To Kwa Wan, Kowloon, Hong Kong, near the Church of Notre Dame, a parish run by the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate, many poor people have been regularly receiving food aid from the parish.
Led by Fr. Mark Anthony SERNA, OMI, together with the young people of the parish, visits are made to the streets under the bridge of To Kwa Wan to look for poor people and distribute food supplies, mostly to the old and homeless.
Fr. Serna is from Libungan, North Cotabato, in the Philippines. After his ordination he received his first obedience from the OMI Superior General to the Delegation of China. Ordained in 2011, he is now in his 9th year as a missionary priest in Hong Kong. At present, he is also one of the councilors in the China Delegation.
The main objective of the program is to give flesh to the Oblate Charism to be with the poor, especially the most abandoned, and to encourage more young people to have a sense of love and mission towards the poor. The program started 18 years ago with Fr. Slawomir KALISZ, OMI, the former parish priest of the Notre Dame parish and now the delegation Superior in China. It began as a regular visitation to the poor families of the parish that turned into a program of ‘feeding the hungry’.
Notre Dame parish became the first Oblate parish in Hong Kong on May 30, 1992, when Cardinal John B. Wu Cheng Chung, bishop of Hong Kong, raised it to that status and appointed Fr. John WOTHERSPOON, OMI, as parish priest. Since then, the Oblates have always been in touch with the most abandoned in the area.
For several months now, every Friday, poor people living under the bridge of To Kwa Wan gather to receive food supplies. Started from about 55 individuals, now there are about 160 people who receive help from the parish.
Due to the pandemic, as many people lost their jobs, most of them eventually became homeless. Some old people who live under the bridge are those who were left alone by their children and families due to the bad economic situation, with no support for their basic needs.
Fr. Serna and the OMI community in Hong Kong continues to promote this program with the help of some generous individuals and benefactors.
They remain confident that, in their simple effort to provide basic needs to the needy, they are making a big difference in the lives of many poor people living in the outskirts of Hong Kong.