AND FAITH—TO viet minh JUNK BAY now has
mob trial mob trial
From a Special Correspondent
0N the densely populated hillsides surrounding Hong Kong, a handful of young missionary priests, most of them expellees from Red China, are carrying out a new, successful apostolate among the million refugees now living in the colony.
Nine of the refugee areas are served by the priests, who have settled down permanently in the settlements. They have taken charge not only of the spiritual wants of Catholics, but also of the more pressing material needs of all.
Junk Bay, some three miles outsjde the city, was the first centre to get its own priest. Fr. Alexander Ts'ao, of the Little Brothers of St. John the Baptist, found more than 7,000 people when he arrived there just over three years ago. Only 60 of them were Catholics.
Today Fr. Ts'ao is assisted by four Chinese priests, two Chinese brothers and Fr. Albert Palmers, a former European missionary in China, and together they have made a profound impression on the local refugees' mode of life.
A school has been opened, a Catholic doctor from Shanghai runs a dispensary where hundreds are treated every.day, and Fr. Ts'ao has been the master-mind behind a project for giving local employment to some of the men.
Junk Bay now boasts a small but rapidly developing bamboo-chair and embroidery industry, thanks to the enterprise of this energetic priest; and on the spiritual side Fr, Ts'ao's unflagging efforts have been equally rewarded, for 1,000 converts have been received since his arrival.
The situation which faced Fr. Eleutherius, a Belgian Franciscan, when he came to the overgrown village of Ma On Shan, exactly a year ago. was somewhat different from that in Junk Bay.
Ma On Shan houses about 2,000 men, women and children. It existed before the great influx of refugees because it grew up around the local iron mine belonging to the Chinese-owned Mutual Trust Cornpany. But the advent of a seemingly unlimited source of cheap labour inevitably led to the expansion of the village.
Many of the mine-workers live in barracks; those who are married live with their families in crude huts on the hills which rise above the city 10 miles away.
Own church •
In just 12 months Fr. Eleutherius has built his own church and presbytery. He is now laying the foundations of a small school. And like his brother-missionaries at Junk Bay, his labours have not gone unrewarded. Three hundred people have been baptised since April, 1952.
The only lodgings Fr. Peter Reilly, a Maryknoll missionary, could find when he settled in another Hong Kong refugee centre six months ago was an unfurnished upstairs loft.
On his first Sunday in Kau Lung Tsai very few Catholics attended Mass. But word got round, and within three weeks there was scarcely standing-room in his tiny, temporary chapel.
Lack of ground space is as grave a problem as the lack of living accommodation, and that as much as anything else is hampering Fr. Reilly's work, However, his chapel serves also as a reading room and classroom during the week.
And, with the help of the Hong Kong Catholic Women's League, he has opened a clinic.
Fr. Cr otti, who moved into Cheung Sha Waan only two months ago, has shown how swiftly these refugee priests adapt themselves to local conditions and learn from the -longer experience of their colleagues.
A clinic is already open, conducted by Sisters of the Immaculate Conception; land has been obtained for a combined school-and-village centre in which the chapel will be housed. and it is expected that construction will be completed by June this year.
His own home problem was solved by Fr. Crotti in a matter of weeks, when he erected a small stone house on the edge of the village cemetery.
One of the duties which all these priests perform with great care is visiting every hut in the settlement as often as possible. Like Fr. Crotti, the missionary who tpok over at Diamond Hill last year', Fr. Atetta,
spends much of his time among the people. The dividends, in terms of souls won to the Church, are high.
In the eyes of these missionaries, the one priest whose ingenuity and practical bent have ensured the remarkable results so far achieved is Fr. Trube, M.M., who went to live among the Hakka-speaking villagers of Tung Tau about 14 months ago.
Fr. Trube's parish has since been hailed as a model experimental centre. The chapel-cum-school is of a special design which makes the most use of every available inch of scarce space. With his two Chinese assistants, Fr. Wu and Fr. Yung, this active priest has done wonders.
Not merely do they teach and visit, they also spend much time helping people to find jobs. Another undertaking that has been launched is a village co-operative for organising the marketing of goods made in the refugee workshops.
The response of the pagan majority among the refugees to the untiring efforts of the priests on their behalf has been everywhere most encouraging.
At Ngau Tau Kok, beyond the Kowloon airfield, Fr. Curran, M.M., with two young Chinese priests, have established a bamboo and rattan co-operative that employs some 40 people, They have also helped to find useful work for hundreds of others.
Undoubtedly the most flourishing refugee parish of all is the great Firewood Bay camp where more than 6,000 people live. With unrestricted water, electricity, a beach of their own, a good church and school, and a fine dispensary run by the Chinese Catholic Club. Fr. Edmonds and his Chinese assistant priest have made the most of conditions.
When this European priest arrived at Firewood Bay in the spring of 1952, seven people formed the congregation at his first Sunday Mass. Now he has two Sunday Masses, and the average number at each is 100.
In complete contrast to Fr. Edmonds's task is the uphill and so far discouraging mission of Fr. Santinon of the Cathedral in Hong Kong. He has been specially deputed by the Bishop to work among the down-and-out refugees in the central district of the city.
Fr. Santinon's parishioners are the poorest of the poor, living from hand to mouth on roof-tops, pavements, and under stairways in the busy thoroughfares of Hong Kong.