Migrant and Refugee Sunday 2020 reminds us to reflect on the presence and contribution of migrants within our faith community. The Chinese Catholic Community recently celebrated 35 years of pastoral care in Melbourne gathering together to practice faith and promote Chinese culture. One such community worships in the Surrey Hills Wattle Park Parish; Our Lady of Perpetual Succour in Wattle Park has been their Mass centre for nearly 20 years. The current president, Tony Li, shares their story as a wandering community until welcomed and eventually settled at Wattle Park.
On 13 September 2020, our community, Catholic Chinese Community of Melbourne, celebrated our 35th Anniversary.
Looking back in time, it all started with a Chinese priest, Fr Joseph Yu who came to Melbourne in 1955 serving as a Diocesan priest. In view of the growing number of Chinese migrants whose first language was not English, he took up this call passionately and started to celebrate Mass with them in Mandarin once a year at St Francis Church in the city, then Star of the Sea Church at West Melbourne.
As more and more Chinese Catholics came together, a group of fervent Chinese Catholics envisaged that there was a need to form an organisation. In 1985, they registered themselves as Our Lady of China Centre, Melbourne, to become one of the ethnic communities under the Archdiocese of Melbourne.
Due to the uncertain status of Hong Kong before 1997, there was a huge influx of Cantonese speaking Chinese coming into Melbourne and Fr Peter Tsang became a full time chaplain for the community in 1992. With his experience as a Parish Priest in Hong Kong, he helped to create a sense of a parish community. Because Melbourne is a much bigger city than Hong Kong and the public transport was less efficient, parishioners were finding it very difficult to gather all at one place…so we started our wandering years.
During those days, Fr Peter had to drive around Melbourne with his trailer (library) to get to different churches to celebrate Sunday Mass for his flock. Many times on Sundays, he had to finish Mass at one church, then quickly drive to another church for another Mass. Our community had been moving around, St Margaret Mary in Brunswick, St Francis at Box Hill, St Pascal at YTU, Holy Family Church in Mt Waverley, and the Chapel at Salesian College in Chadstone.
In 1997, we renamed ourselves as The Catholic Chinese Community of Melbourne and in 2000, God answered our prayers and the Archdiocese granted us to share the church facility at Our Lady of Perpetual Succour in Wattle Park. We are so grateful to the Parish Priests and parishioners at Our Lady’s. In recent years we have also had access to the school facilities; with this support from the parish community, we have managed to grow to over 600 members.
With the passing of our beloved Fr Peter in 2010, we had Fr Aloysius Nato to lead us for almost 10 years and now we have Fr James Archeeira from Hong Kong as our chaplain.
Throughout these years we felt so blessed, in particular with the help and support from our brothers and sisters at Our Lady of Perpetual Succour. Please accept our sincere thanks!
For more information about the Migrant & Refugee Sunday, visit the Australian Catholic Migrant and Refugee website