3,500 catechumens baptised in a single diocese!

Yes, folks, you read that right: 3,500 new adult Christians were received into the Catholic Church through the rites of initiation on the Easter Vigil in the Diocese of Hong Kong. And that is with an overall population of some 500,000 Catholics. Just imagine… It must have been like Pentecost all over again!

About Schütz

I am a PhD candidate & sessional academic at Australian Catholic University in Melbourne, Australia. After almost 10 years in ministry as a Lutheran pastor, I was received into the Catholic Church in 2003. I worked for the Archdiocese of Melbourne for 18 years in Ecumenism and Interfaith Relations. I have been editor of Gesher for the Council of Christians & Jews and am guest editor of the historical journal “Footprints”. I have a passion for pilgrimage and pioneered the MacKillop Woods Way.
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10 Responses to 3,500 catechumens baptised in a single diocese!

  1. matthias says:

    It has been said that there are more Christians in China and Africa combined than in the rest of the world. Puts paid to those here in our arrogant ,hedonistic,selfish society who believe that christianity is over.
    By the way Gordon cheyne who wrote that Christianity is “supersitious,and intolerant” was a dr i use to work with. See what happens to those who are brought up Scottish Calvinists and reject it and the rest of the faith -they become bitter old cynics

  2. Hannah says:

    Matthias I thought he became bitter and old and cynical be cause he worked with you! (lol)

  3. Matthias says:

    David -Yes
    Hannah LOL -he was old when i worked with him

  4. Peregrinus says:

    A significant factor in Hong Kong is that that the Catholic population is five hundred thousand out of a total population of about seven million – in other words, there is a vastly greater population of potential converts to be evangelised than in any Australian diocese of comparable size. Sydney, for example, also has about 500,000 Catholics, but the non-Catholic population is only about 1.3 million, in contrast to Hong Kong’s 6.5 million. If Sydney had a similar “strike rate” in terms of the proportion of non-Catholics received into Catholicism, then you would expect about 700 receptions. In fact they had about 225.

    • Schütz says:

      Well, Melbourne is supposed to have a Catholic population twice that of Hong Kong and a non-catholic population of about half Hong Kong’s. So does that mean we should have twice as many evangelists or half as many converts? I am not sure how many came into the Church at Easter this year, but I don’t think it was 1250! IOW, the size of the pool of potential converts might be a factor, but still, there must be something else they are doing right!

      BTW, it is quite interesting to see how strong the references to the newly baptised are in the liturgy for Easter week. This comes through much more clearly in the new translation – but it can be a bit of an embarrassment for parishes that had not neophytes at Easter.

      • Peregrinus says:

        Well, it’s a truism that impressive growth is easier to achieve when you start from a lower base. The church in Hong Kong may be growing impressively, but it’s still only about 7% of the overall population. Growing impressively from that position is probably easier than when you represent, say, 30% of the population, as is probably about the case in Melbourne.

        The true answer, though, is that not just the demographic conditions, but the cultural and social conditions, vary so widely between Hong Kong and any major Australian city that any simplistic comparison is likely to be of limited value.

        But we can notice one thing. Under the previous bishop, Cardinal Zen, in terms of numbers Catholicism in Hong Kong seems to have been in gentle but steady decline, with Catholics declining both in absolute numbers and as a percentage of the population. This seems to have been reversed under Cardinal Tong – this year’s intake of 3,500 adults is a record-breaker, but it follows on a number of years each of which has itself been a record-breaker.

        I don’t know that this is the result of a deliberate efforts by Cardinal Tong, but I’d hazard a guess that that might be the case. There’s a clue in the fact that the diocese employs 40 paid catechists – that hardly happened without a definite decision, and a definite commitment of resources, by the bishop – but I suspect there’s more involved than that. And it would be interesting to know what the strategy of the diocese has been.

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