In May 2007, a group of pilgrims came to Medjugorje from Hong Kong and Macao. The group was accompanied by a priest, and led by Michelle Yau Ivy (Hong Kong) and S. Claire-Marie (Macao). Lidija Paris spoke with them.
Can you tell us about the beginnings of the pilgrimages from Hong Kong to Medjugorje?
Michelle Yau Ivy: Everything started in December 2001, with my first trip here. I was coming just for fun with a group of friends from Hong Kong. I did not expect anything. I just wanted to come with friends. After this trip, I received a great blessing. When I returned, my husband asked to learn to pray the Rosary and became truly devoted to this. I was very amazed. Soon after, he asked to learn the catechism, and five months later, he was baptized, on the feast of Our Lady of Assumption. He is working now for the monks, in the monastery “Our Lady of Joy” in Hong Kong! For me, this is a fruit of Medjugorje. Then, I was thinking to come back, so I decided to bring a group here. I know that people wanted to come, but they were very afraid. I tried to organize a trip. There was a rumor in Hong Kong that this was a very cold place without electricity and without water, where people eat just bread, so they thought that they should bring along as much food as they can! This is what we have done on the first trip!
What happened during your second pilgrimage?
Michelle Yau Ivy: I heard Our Lady call me to join her plan, to help her. I was thinking that I was not worthy, that I cannot. I had my work, I was working in a school as a school administrator, and it was difficult to get holydays. I had to spend all my holidays for Medjugorje. However, the urge from Our Lady was so strong that I could not resist. As soon as I came back to Hong Kong, I thought about coming back to Medjugorje. We came for the Youth festival with 46 people. I see in all pilgrimages people convert. We see how Our Lady is resolving all the problems in the group. She is truly the leader of the pilgrimage. It is such a joy to see changes in people’s faces and in their hearts, because of the deep intimacy with Our Mother and with Jesus.
How often are you coming?
Michelle Yau Ivy: Last year I gave up my work and now I am free for Medjugorje. At the beginning, we came once a year, but now twice a year, for the Youth festival and for Christmas. We love to come with the youth for the Youth festival. They enjoy it very much. They feel home here. It is their place! Three months ago, we started a Youth ministry in Hong Kong in the Medjugorje spirit, we meet once a month and we go everywhere, to the parishes, to the schools… young people have a fire in their hearts to do something for Mary. We are doing now a CD with Adoration songs in Chinese… in order to bring Medjugorje to China! Christmas is a good experience here, because in Hong Kong we are very materialistic. Christmas means buying, eating, shopping, having parties… it is a very good experience to see here what true Christmas is. This year is the first time that we came in May. We are 39. We came in May, because we want to do here the Consecration to Our Lady. On the second Saturday of May we celebrate the feast of Our Lady of China, and on the 13th of May is Our Lady of Fatima, and there is also the Mother’s Day. Everything comes together!
Do you have a priest with you?
Michelle Yau Ivy: Almost every time. This time, we have a priest who came for the third time. He was very touched by Medjugorje.
What are you doing between the pilgrimages with those who have been in Medjugorje or with those who are preparing to come?
Michelle Yau Ivy: Since our first pilgrimage, we started to gather together. When we come back, we gather for regular meetings those who have been in Medjugorje. In the beginning, it was once a month, on the second of the month, to pray for the unbelievers. We had Rosary, Mass, Adoration, confessions, but it was quite difficult to find a priest who wants to come regularly, so we stopped for a while, we just prayed together. Now, for almost 3 years, we have a regular prayer group with those who have been in Medjugorje. They are committed to come once a week. We pray together, we share the Bible, the message of Medjugorje, and those who want to know about Medjugorje can come. Our aim is to come together to pray, to remain faithful to the call. It is very difficult to live alone the spirit of Medjugorje in Hong Kong, which is very materialistic. People work very much, from 8 am to 10 pm. If you leave the office at 10 pm, your boss may look at you and ask why you are leaving so early! We pray the Rosary together, for the intentions of the Virgin Mary. We welcome people who cannot come to Medjugorje, but want to live this spirit. We have four prayer groups in Hong Kong and three in Macao. There are about 30.000 Catholics in Hong Kong and 300.000 in Macao.
Sister Claire-Marie, you are French, but you are living in Macao. What are you doing there?
S. Claire-Marie: I came to Macao because I received a call to go to China. I chose to arrive on June 24, because I wanted to put myself under the protection of Our Lady of Medjugorje, I wanted my first day in China to be June 25. In the nineties, our founder Ephraim came to Medjugorje, and he said, this was my second conversion. After this trip, he wrote a book about the 33 days consecration to Mary. I did not know that I would be involved in Medjugorje in China, but quite quickly, they asked me to accompany a group from there to Medjugorje. I did not expect the first impact of our community in China to be connected with Medjugorje, but this is how God led it. In fact, I joined a group of Ivy the first Christmas after my arrival. We came once, and they asked me to continue. Truly, it has become my life now. I am coming three times a year to Medjugorje, and in-between, we have prayer groups to accompany; I am giving conferences for prayer groups in Macao and in Hong Kong. Macao and Hong Kong are at a distance of only three hours. Fr. Slavko has been in Macao, it was a tremendous event. People had filled the cathedral.
What is the difference between Hong Kong and Macao?
S. Claire-Marie: Hong Kong is more protestant, because it was a British protectorate, and Macao is rather Catholic because it was under the Portuguese. The Church in Hong Kong is very much under the influence of the Protestants, very open and dynamic, and in Macao, it is rather traditional. Macao was consecrated to Our Lady 10 years ago. You can see the impact of Mary in the Catholic Church of Macao. You can feel it.
Michelle Yau Ivy: Macao is called Rome of Asia. All the missionaries who went to China stopped first in Macao. Hong Kong and Macao were special administrative regions, but they were recently given back to China. There are agreements between China and Portugal and China and Great Britain. There is a period of 50 years for adjustments between mainland China and Hong Kong and Macao.
Are you spreading books and messages of Medjugorje in Chinese?
Michelle Yau Ivy: We spread the news by word of mouth. We do no advertisements in the newspapers. We tell those who joined us for a pilgrimage: if you see the fruits, speak about them. Therefore, our groups grow together with our pilgrims. Most of them are invited by those who have already come. As for the books in Chinese, we have the Messages. For other books, we only have the book written by Wayne Weible and the book by Sister Emmanuel. In addition, we have a web site.
Can you tell us about the difference between mainland China and Hong Kong and Macao?
Michelle Yau Ivy: Hong Kong is a very international place. We are rooted in the Chinese culture, but educated in a western way, most of the time by the missionaries. For the Chinese in China it is very difficult to understand western ways… but I would almost say that their faith is deeper than the faith of those in Hong Kong and Macao. They pray a lot, they are very interiorized. We are more dynamic, in contact with the protestant and charismatic world. Since the border has been opened between Hong Kong, Macao and China, many come over here to discover the Casinos and similar things. But they also have the possibility to discover other things…. 450.000 people came last month from China to Hong Kong and Macao. The door is open now.
Here in Medjugorje, your group is going to make a consecration to Our Lady?
Michelle Yau Ivy: We need her help to spread her message to China. Medjugorje is a prolongation of Fatima, and in Fatima, she asked the consecration of the world to her Immaculate Heart. We cannot reach China there, so we bring China here, and Our Lady can work miracles for this country. We come here to ask Mary to touch the hearts in China.
S. Claire-Marie: We are doing the consecration here in Medjugorje on behalf of all those who have not done it. To consecrate the whole country to Our Lady of China. Our Lady of Fatima has announced the end of the communism… This is why we have chosen to do this consecration this year, on the 90th anniversary of Fatima. If each one of us makes this consecration on behalf of those who live in Mainland China, I think Our Lady will use this. She will make use of it. Mary is so deeply our Mother.