FMA Consultor in the Vatican -Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity.
Vatican City. Sr. Maria Ko Ha Fong, FMA, is new consultor and the only woman among 10 new consultors to the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity. Pope Francis has made the appointments last July 22.
The origin of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity is closely linked with the Second Vatican Council. It was Pope John XXIII’s desire that the involvement of the Catholic Church in the contemporary ecumenical movement be one of the Council’s chief concerns. The Council promotes, within the Catholic Church, an authentic ecumenical spirit and aims to develop dialogue and collaboration with the other Churches and World Communions.
Sister Maria Ko Ha Fong was born in Macao and grew up in Hong Kong in a family with a long Buddhist tradition. Her father studied at the Salesians’ school then converted to Catholicism and later, so did his wife and children. Sr. Maria studied at the Salesian Sisters’ school in Hong Kong and became a Daughter of Mary Help of Christians in 1970. She studied education in Turin, Italy and obtained a doctorate in Biblical Theology in Münster, Germany. She was part of the theological-historical Commission for the preparation of the Great Jubilee of 2000 and was a consultant of the Sacred Congregation for the institutes of consecrated life. Since 1978, she has been teaching sacred scripture, biblical exegesis, and biblical ministry at the Pontifical Faculty of Education Sciences (Auxilium), Rome, at the Holy Spirit Seminary of Hong Kong, and at the school of the Salesians in Jerusalem. She gives courses on biblical spirituality at centers of formation in Asia, Latin America and Africa. She has written in the fields of biblical hermeneutics, biblical pastoral ministry and biblical spirituality.
Being the only woman among consultors and coming from Asia, home to two-thirds of humanity but where Christians remain a very small minority, certainly give Sr. Maria a unique perspective, thus a precious contribution to the Council. Growing up in China, cradle of the orient’s ancient wisdom and philosophy, gives her a unique blend of Christianity. In an interview by the Vatican Insider (May 2011), she said: We Chinese are accustomed to feel like heirs of a precious tradition of life and of wisdom, and to let ourselves be guided by the experience of our forefathers, to find in the classical texts the criteria and the frame of reference for our moral conduct. It’s not difficult for us, therefore, to reread the Bible as a story of salvation and to find ourselves involved in it.
Just some days ago, an FMA, Sr. Marcella Farina, was also appointed as consultor: this is a strong sign of God’s blessings to the Institute founded by Don Bosco and Mother Mazzarello.
An FMA among the new Consulters for Consecrated Life
Vatican City. The Vatican Press Room announces that on July 16,the Pope has nominated for a five year term, the new consulters for the Congregation of Institutes of Consecrated Life (VC) and Societies of Apostolic Life, the Vatican Department responsible for the life of consecrated men and women.
The Congregations are Departments of the Roman Curia that collaborate with the Pope in the spiritual and material government of the Catholic Church. They are composed of Cardinals, Archbishops, and Bishops tasked with particular ecclesiastical affairs. They use the collaboration of a college of consulters nominated from among experts in the materials to be treated. They are renewed for an established period and are chosen from among those who can give a specific and proactive support of thought and action to the Vatican Congregation.
In Evangelii Gaudium, Pope Francis highlighted the need to widen spaces for a more incisive feminine presence in the Church. Feminine genius is necessary in all expressions of social life. For this reason, we must guarantee the presence of women in the work field and in the various places where important decisions are made for the Church and for social structures (103).
Among the new Consulters is Sr. Marcella Farina of the Congregation of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians. Born at Buonalbergo (BN), she is a professor of Fundamental and Systematic Theology at the Pontifical University of the Science of Education Auxilium, in Rome. She is responsible for the Universitys Periodical of the Science of Education. She is also a member of the Pontifical Theological Academy, a founding member and associate of the Italian Society for Theological Research, and a member of the Interdisciplinary Association of Mariology. She has written dozens of works dedicated to Theological issues. Her intense research activity into the possible relationships between Catholics and laity, and the sensitivity shown for the feminine question, led her to be nominated as a component of the National Equal Opportunity Commission for 1996 to 2003.
In his Encyclical Letter, Evangelium Vitae, no. 99, John Paul II encourages women to offer a proactive contribution of thought and action, becoming promoters of a new feminism. In the cultural breakthrough in favour of life, women have a place for thought and action that is unique and possibly determinate. It is up to them to make themselves the promoters of a new feminism that avoids the temptation of adopting masculine models, knows how to recognize and express their true feminine genius in all manifestations of civil life, working to overcome every form of discrimination, violence, and exploitation.
A contribution for the elaboration and construction of a new feminism could, without doubt, come from feminine consecrated life, valuing the rich spiritual patrimony that comes from the generations of two thousand years. The nomination of Sr. Marcella on the part of the Holy Father could go in this direction. In addition, as Daughters of Mary Help of Christians, we see in this a sign of trust toward our Institute, which in the school of Don Bosco, cultivates a particular love for the Pope and therefore, the will to serve in the Church with passion, generosity, and joy.
We wish Sr. Marcella every blessing of the Lord and the maternal protection of Mary Help of Christians. May she perform this new service proactively and with the enthusiasm that characterizes her.