Kung Hei Fat Choi!
On Sunday, Bishop Vincent Long OFM Conv, Bishop of Parramatta, welcomed the Year of the Pig with members of the Chinese chaplaincy at St Monica’s Parish, North Parramatta.
Bishop Vincent and Fr Ephraim Lam, parish priest and chaplain to the Chinese community, celebrated Lunar New Year with a Mass that had readings, prayers and songs in both English and Cantonese.
During his homily, Bishop Vincent spoke of the spirit of renewal that comes with the New Year and how the Beatitudes gives us a sense of happiness and “blessedness” in our daily lives.
“The Lunar Festival is a summation of ancient wisdom. It is a celebration of what it means to be a human being – a human being in relationship with others, and for us Christians, also a human being in relationship with God who brings all things together in unity.
“We affirm these sacred relationships to be fundamental to our existence. Whether we are rich or poor, high or low, there is no true happiness for us without our commitment to attending to and nurturing them. The good fortune wishes and gifts are shallow if our lives and relationships are not aligned with God’s purpose for us and the common good of others.
“The Word of God today reinforces the ancient wisdom embedded in our culture. It also calls us to orientate our lives to the higher values and principles that will lead us to true blessedness, not simply good fortune in this world but a fulfilment of our God-given purpose of existence.
“However, when we examine the words of our Lord carefully, the initial repulsion or puzzlement will give way to a deeper understanding and appreciation. We realise that happiness does not reside in possessions, successes or achievements. Real happiness resides in a heart open to loving, to giving, to caring, to enhancing the lives of others even to the point of dying for the ones we love. Jesus invites us to find this kind of happiness through a life of witness, service and solidarity. Christian happiness belongs to those who dare to give, to serve, to love even to the extent of having to pay the cost of that love in the way that Jesus himself did on the cross. That is fundamentally the meaning of the Beatitudes.
“We are filled with gratitude to God for bringing us to this new year. We may not always be as happy as pigs in mud. But may God enable us to live the Beatitudes of Jesus and attain blessedness through our daily living of and witnessing to the Gospel values.”
Following Mass, Bishop Vincent changed into a blue Chinese silk suit and gifted red envelopes to Mass attendees with Fr Ephraim and altar servers.
Bishop Vincent blessed two brand-new lion costumes from China before lion dancers lead attendees to the parish hall, where a lunch banquet prepared by parishioners was served.
Members of the Chinese community ate and drank together and participated in a traditional dice game. A trio of musicians performed traditional and Western music to conclude the celebrations.
In the evening, a formal banquet was hosted at the Phoenix Chinese Restaurant, Parramatta.
View images from the Lunar New Year festivities here or below