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Book fair spotlights extraordinary women

Anthology features women in the service of God

Young and old book lovers at the Hong Kong Book Fair 2011 at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Center Young and old book lovers at the Hong Kong Book Fair 2011 at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Center
  • ucanews.com reporter, Hong Kong
  • Hong Kong
  • July 21, 2011
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The status of women in Hong Kong is gradually on the rise. They are well-represented in the civil service, account for more than half of university admissions and hold just less than 9 percent of directorships in Hong Kong’s top companies, which lags behind the US but is well ahead of other Asian countries and almost three times more than Germany.

The Church is no exception to this ground shift, with more Catholic women assuming key roles in a variety of positions.

At this year’s Hong Kong Book Fair, women were represented in significant numbers, many of them in one single anthology. Eight women authors have showcased the lives and contributions of 13 nuns from 10 Religious congregations, along with nine laywomen, in a new book titled Guess, Affection and Search.

The inspiration for this Chinese book came “by chance,” says Rose Chan, one of the authors.

The book’s journey began in 2009, when eight alumnae of Hong Kong’s Holy Spirit Seminary College embarked on a writing project. They came across a group of nuns and discovered that they had been childhood friends but were  baptized under different circumstances.

By a twist of fate, they also all responded to God’s call and entered different Religious congregations. “We found that twist of fate fascinating,” says Chan.

As well as interviewing the nuns in depth so  they could depict their live stories in detail, they also interviewed laywomen from different professions. “After all, nuns are a minority,” says Chan. “We also wanted to talk to these laywomen, who not only use God’s gift to contribute to their work and society but also in living out their faith life.”

One of the protagonists of the book is Sister Agnes Lai Fong, who has followed a fascinating path. She first entered a Chinese congregation but in middle age, a decade after making her first perpetual vow, she decided to move to the international Fraternity of the Little Sisters of Jesus.

She explained that she wanted to stay among people through secular service and did not mind beginning again as a novice.

“Many people would think answering a vocation is a full stop,” says Chan as she recounts the nun’s story. “In fact, there are many possibilities and God’s plan needs our continuous discernment and response.”

Another major character in the book is Man Lai-wah, a visually impaired laywoman who dedicates all her time to the adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and visiting people who need consolation and support.

“Though she has a physical disability, she can help people with spiritual disabilities. This is the miracle of God,” says Chan.

The six-day Book Fair, which began on July 20 and attracted almost a million visitors to last year’s event, features 500 exhibitors from 24 countries and regions. The Catholic booths comprise 12 Church-run publishers and groups, although Chan and her fellow authors chose an alternative publisher. “We chose a secular publishing house,” she says, “as we hope it will help to achieve further reach to readers who are not Catholics.”

Related reports:

Hong Kong publishes Compendium

Catholic presence at Book Fair caters to young tastes

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