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Chinese Chaplaincy welcomes the Year of the Dog

By Jordan Grantham, 26 February 2018
Bishop Vincent Long OFM Conv celebrating Lunar New Year. Image: Chinese Chaplaincy Diocese of Parramatta.

The Chinese Catholic Chaplaincy welcomed the Year of the Dog with Lion Dances, Mass and sumptuous banquets on Sunday 18 February 2018.

“Since I arrived at St Monica’s Parish, North Parramatta in the middle of January this year, the Chinese Catholics here were fervently preparing for the celebration of the Lunar New Year,” Fr Ephraim Lam, the newly-appointed Chaplain to the Chinese Catholic Community, said.

“Many were longing for the Mass specially celebrated by Bishop Vincent on the morning of 18 February, and the banquet that would be held that night,” he said.

“The youths were practicing the traditional Lion Dance for three Sunday afternoons before that big day. Special red banners were hung inside St Monica’s Church to welcome the ‘Year of the Dog’.”

Bishop of Parramatta, Bishop Vincent Long OFM Conv celebrated the 11:30am Mass with the inspiring readings of the First Sunday of Lent, about Moses’ harvest thanksgiving ritual in the Promised Land and then St Paul’s letter to the Romans lamenting Israel’s overall rejection of Christ.

Bishop Vincent drew a parallel between Fr Ephraim and Noah, saying that the Chaplaincy is like Noah’s Arc. He also joked that the two of them look alike, being of similar height and wearing spectacles, to the appreciation of the congregation.

Spectacular Lion Dancing followed Mass at the entrance to the Church.

VIEW: Images from the Diocese of Parramatta Lunar New Year here.

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Bishop Vincent, Fr Fernando Montano, former Chinese Chaplain, and Fr Reginaldo Lavilla MSP., Administrator of St Monica’s Parish, gifted red Chinese envelopes to all the people from the Mass.

Sumptuous dishes were then served in the large parish hall, thanks to the energetic preparations of the Chinese Catholics.

The community exchanged many well wishes with each other for the Lunar New Year. Bishop Vincent also led one of the fun group games played in the hall.

A formal banquet followed that event at the Pheonix Chinese Restaurant, Parramatta. Friends of the Chinese Chaplaincy also joined the banquet, which featured more Lion Dances, lucky draw, games and Bishop Vincent wearing the “Big-Head” mask, to the amusement of revellers.

The Chinese Catholics presented a special couplet presented on a calligraphy scroll to Bishop Vincent. In translation it reads:

Overcoming all hardships and challenges

Passed over Vietnam to this land

Not only a pastor but a bishop has he become

Bishop Vincent Long to share God’s glory

By the graces the Lord bestowed upon.

The Lunar Year celebration of the Diocese of Parramatta had the same enthusiasm and vitality as in South East Asia.

Fr Ephraim said he hopes to have the virtues of the dog in his first year as Chinese Chaplain. He said the dog is renowned for its loyalty, which Fr Ephraim hopes to embody in his fidelity to God and Christ’s teachings. The dog’s energy and industry is something Fr Ephraim hopes to apply in his pastoral duties.

VIEW: Images from the Diocese of Parramatta Lunar New Year here.

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