I am Sr. Rose, Chow Ming Chu. I was born in Hong Kong. In my family, I have an elder brother and a younger sister. We used to live in Lam Tin Housing Estate in Kowloon, Hong Kong. I grew up in a Catholic family. My parents used to bring us to the school hall of Sing Yin Secondary School which is run by SVD missionaries, for Sunday mass. After that, we had Sunday school classes in our primary school building which is run by the Diocese. Since the Catholic Church is only a minority among the Chinese, many times my classmates asked me why I had to go to school also on Sundays and my answer was: “I don’t know. My parents bring me there for catechism class and sometimes I am fed up to go to school every day!”
As our parish priest grew old and no more SVD priest could come to substitute him, one day a young Italian PIME father, Fr Giorgio Pasini, came as our parish priest. Since then our parish changed: more people started to come for mass and the different parish activities became more lively. Fr. Sze (as we call him in Chinese) started to ask for a pastoral sister to work in the parish. Until that moment, we had never seen a sister in our parish, thinking that a sister must be someone coming from a foreign land.
As I grew up, I was promoted to St. Paul’s School (Lam Tin) which is run by the Sisters of St. Paul de Chartres, a French religious congregation. This was the first time for me to have a look at sisters, who were the supervisor and the principal of the school. They were serious persons, seldom smile but full of talents. They were not paying attention only to our academic progress, but also our Catholic formation. We used to have two religion lessons every week. From these lessons, I came to know about the story of our Lady in Fatima and in Lourdes, about Mother Theresa of Calcutta, the conversion of St. Paul the Apostle, who is the patron saint of the school. From time to time, teachers or sisters recalled us to this thought: what do you want to be your life? What is the meaning of life? What do you want to do when you’ll grow up?
Jesus is calling
At the end of my F.2 academic year, our principal, Sr. Carmela was going to retire and hence leaving the school. One day she called us (There were only 3 Catholic students in the class, including me) to go to her office after school. I was scared, thinking whether I had done something wrong or I had not done well enough in the school study. When we arrived in her office, Sr. Carmela was extremely kind and she said, “I wish one of you can be a religious sister like me in the future.” In such an unexpected situation, none of us gave any answer.
When I was in F.6 (about the year 1992-93), Mother Theresa of Calcutta came to Hong Kong and I got a chance to meet her. I remember very clearly these words of her: “Mission is not to give money to the poor. The mission is to live with the poor, facing their difficulties and bring them hope, love and faith.” These words stroke me very strongly.
How about the parish life in these years of my adulthood? After some years with us in Lam Tin, Fr Sze had to move to another parish and another PIME father, Fr. Piero Zamuner (we call him Fr. Sing), came as our parish priest. I do not know exactly how, but he became a friend of my father.
One Sunday, when I was thinking about the striking words of Mother Theresa, I came up to the parish for mass and out of my surprise Fr. Piero asked me “Signorina, do you want to be a nun?”. I did not know why Fr. Sing asked me this question, so I only smiled at him and went away to sit for mass.
After graduated from school, I entered the Nursing school of Queen Elizabeth Hospital, the central hospital in Kowloon, for 3 years’ training. This training period has been tough for me, not only because of the necessary studies and practice, especially in night duty, but also for my faith: I could not go to have mass every Sunday, while the strong Protestant prayer and supporting groups among my classmates challenged our Catholic teachings and faith.
Fortunately, after two years of praying alone while continuing my formation as a Catholic nurse, I met the Hong Kong Catholic Nurses’ Guild (CNG). They were looking for volunteers. With the help of the catholic nurses, we organized early Sunday mass in the hospital for patients and on Saturday evenings for staff. In our leisure time, we had bible study and sharing, an annual retreat in the retreat house. I enjoyed being with them and as one of them. At that time, Fr. Paolo Morlacchi (Fr Mok), PIME was our spiritual director. Sharing works and experiences with the Catholic Pastoral Care Unit, I met Sr. Antonietta D’Onofrio (Sr. Do), the first PIME sister in my life. She was very friendly, kind and open-minded, so many of us found it easy to share with her.
With the guiding hands of the Holy Spirit, I passed my three years of training as a student nurse and also registered as a Registered nurse in Hong Kong. When I was going to the office of my department nursing manager to report duty with my new documents of Registration, I met Sr. Do accidentally when I was getting off from the elevator, She asked me,” What are you doing here? You do not want to be a sister?” “What are you saying? I just got my registration as a Registered Nurse. I want to be a nurse!!” This was not the only event.
From that time on, I started to think about religious life as a life choice seriously. I shared with our sisters in Fanling community as a come and see. Under the guidance of Sr. Luigia Mindassi, I got many chances to visit different congregations, to know their charism and activities and lived in our community during my holidays. I joined the first vocation camp too and I discovered that mission ad extra and ad Vitam were the things that I desired. My father also started to notice that I was going frequently to the sisters’ house and got angry with me. When I entered into the community as an aspirant, my father told me I could stay in this congregation only for the reason of Fr. Sing was his friend and a PIME priest.
Life is challenging and keeps on changing. There are many turning points or important moments in which we are asked to make decisions. By the grace of the Holy Spirit, the gentle hand of Jesus, the love and care of the communities throughout my initial formation and novitiate, I was able to say my first “Yes” to Jesus in the day of my first profession 2004 in Monza, Italy.
However, Jesus has not stopped calling me; he called me to give my life for mission, away from my homeland to bring His Good News to the people there. In 2012 I left for Bangladesh. After learning the language of the people, Bangla, I now work in some centres for handicapped people to serve our little brothers and sisters. Through this service, I learn not only the values of love, care, patience and tolerance, but also human dignity. I understood that human dignity does not depend on our abilities or intelligence because everyone is a gift of God. In the centres, I give school classes, but I also teach handicrafts and sports. We sing and play, dance and celebrate our birthdays together. There are trained teachers and I listen and share with them, also about the difficulties of the families of the handicapped children. We hold our hands to face a better future, though we belong to different religions. I’m grateful to God to be able to witness His love in a Muslims’ or multi-religious context.