Monday, April 23, 2012

Day in Macau

It took an hour to cross from Hong Kong over to Macau. More stamps in my passport!

Fr. Kenneth picked us up at the Ferry and took us to St. Paul's in Macau where the average age of the congregation is about 30, and they number between 40 to 59 in attendance each Sunday. His predecessors really focused on youth, given that there is a school attached to the church. The school has approximately 2,000 students from primary and secondary school -- 6 years of primary, 6 years of secondary school, which is different from Hong Kong. Most schools in Macau are private, and the Macau government pays the student tuition to the private schools which is different from Hong Kong.

The principal of the school, Erick, gave us a tour the school. Beautiful! Here is a picture of the inner courtyard, open air front but secured by a gate. Space is limited in Macau as it is in Hong Kong, so everything is built up.

I was particularly fond of the following sign:

Among the most interesting classroom we visited was the history and geography room, where students learn Chinese history.

Here we are with the Principal and Fr. Kenneth after the tour at the tip of the Compass Rose emblem.

And a picture of me giving Erick a Hands in Healing cross.

Fr. Kenneth shared that the lifestyle in Macau is much more relaxed than in Hong Kong. His challenge is to get the students in the school motivated. The same is true for the congregation. The church itself is structured like an ark. Here is our traveling companion for the day Kathleen Clark in the Sanctuary.

After the church and school tour, we proceeded to lunch with some of the clergy serving in Macau. First we stopped off at Holy Cross Church which is literally in a storefront. It too has almost exclusively young people attending, many of whom, as with the congregation at St. Paul's, graduated from the school.

At a wonderful Portuguese lunch we met Fr. Wu and Fr. Stephen and Fr. Stephen's wife Crystal. Here we are after our lunch:

We then walked over to see the ruins of St. Paul's, which was destroyed by fire. It was one of the first churches built in Macau.

It was a beautiful walk. The little squares we ran into reminded me of Quito.

We continued on to the site where Protestantism was brought to the Chinese 200 years ago by Robert Morrison. Stephen, who is from Australia but received his MDiv at the Seminary of the Southwest in Austin, serves as the Vicar of this Chapel.

While the original church burned down, this one is about 100 years old. Of particular interest to us is that Florence Li Tim Oi served there. Here's a picture of us in the sanctuary and then me pointing at Florence's picture on the wall.

Notice how the stain glass window from across the way is reflected in the glass of the picture of Rev. Morrison behind me!

We toured the beautiful cemetery which was actually started by the death of Rev. Morrison's wife (she was the first to be buried there.)

From where St. Paul's church is located it is a 5 minute drive to the China border. We passed by that border on the way to Tapia. There, we toured an amazing community center. One of the young men who works there and gave us our tour graduated last year from University in England with a degree in Sociology. He will be starting his Masters degree this fall in Macau and the government has asked him to do a new study on children and youth.

The community center is used for all kinds of activities, but most importantly after school and summer programs for children and youth. This can include family classes and counseling. Music, band room, reading room, cooking classes, dance classes, computer classes --you name it. Because the people that work there are mostly young, the manager of the center brings them all together weekly to share ideas--that's how the programming is developed, and it's been highly successful. Here are a few photos:

We said goodbye to our host at the center (seen above with Fr. Kenneth) and headed out to have a cup of tea and a Portuguese egg tart, a plate of which Kathleen is holding!

The sea was a bit rough because of the weather coming back from Macau, but you can see a bit of the view from the boat as we got back to Kowloon:

Can't wait to return again to this area of the world where the clergy gather weekly in their dioceses (each is smaller than LA), and the hospitality is warm and welcoming.

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