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Church History

“Hey, is that a church?” Passers-by on Star Street, Wan Chai, often ask. Yes, it is. The words “Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church” are clearly marked on the wall next to a separate entrance of a residential building.

Early Days

The Church has witnessed the growth of the Catholic community in Wan Chai area, where more than a century ago, Catholics first gathered. There were religious communities, Catholic hospital, and homes for abandoned babies and blind women. As early as 1845, St Francis Xavier Chapel was the place of worship for the Wan Chai parishioners. St Francis Street and St Francis Yard were named accordingly. As the number of faithful grew, St Margaret’s Church in Happy Valley was built and opened in 1925. Nevertheless, many Wan Chai parishioners still went to the chapel in the Canossa Hospital to attend Mass. As the chapel was stretched beyond its capacity, the parish priest, Father James Zilioli, and the Wan Chai faithful were determined to build a new church.

The Preparation

Preparation work started from scratch. The Wan Chai parishioners had neither land nor money. What they had was their full confidence in Christ. They prayed, did penance, appealed and offered masses to the holy souls. On 24 October, 1934, they offered the first novena to the holy souls. In 1936, Bishop Enrico Valtorta offered Mass in the chapel and also on the first Sunday of each month for the special intention of building a new church. Even during the turbulent times of World War II, the Wan Chai parishioners offered Mass for the holy souls on 24 October each year.

Wan Chai residents were mostly poor people. They saved every cent to donate to the construction fund. They were like the poor widow in the Bible, giving all they had. In 1939, a man of faith, Mr Wong, bought a piece of land for the church to be built. In 1940, Bishop Valtorta launched a fund raising campaign which was supported by other parishes, schools and associations. In 1948, the construction plan was approved by the Government but only half of the money required had been raised. Bishop Valtorta decided that the diocese would pay the remaining sum. At the end of February 1949, construction work began. Parishioners continued to raise money for the fixtures and decorations. The new church was finally opened in 1950 on 16 July, the feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, with Mass celebrated by Father Thomas Ryan, Superior of the Hong Kong Jesuits and the parish priest, Father James Zilioli. The church was named “Holy Souls Church”.

 

Ki Lap School was housed inside the church and provided primary education for the children in the vicinity. In 1957, the church was renamed “Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church”. Later, with the changes of time and the reduction in the number of students, Ki Lap School completed its mission and was closed down in 1994.

Further Development

In 1990s, the diocese sold the church and the lot and the proceeds were used for the development of other parishes. The church was rebuilt inside the new building on the same site. The new church was officially opened on 10 November, 2001 by Bishop John Baptist Wu.

本堂歷史

路過灣仔星街的人都會好奇的問:「這裏有一間聖堂?」在一座私人住宅大廈另外一獨立入口的牆壁上,大字書名「聖母聖衣堂」。

 
早期的歷史

今天的聖母聖衣堂見證了灣仔堂區的茁壯發展。早在百多年前,灣仔區已是教友聚居的地區,當時區內有修院、天主教醫院、棄嬰院和盲女院,而早於1845年,聖方濟小堂已是灣仔區教友參與彌撒的聖所,「聖佛蘭士街」、「進教圍」因而得名。由於區內教友人數不斷增加,教區於1925年在跑馬地建成聖瑪加利堂,但仍有不少灣仔區的教友到嘉諾撒醫院的小堂參與彌撒。眼見教友越來越多,小堂不敷應用,主任司鐸理雅各神父與灣仔區的教友矢志籌建聖堂。

籌建過程

 

籌建工作從零開始,灣仔區的教友既無土地,又無經費,有的只是對天主的信心。他們不斷祈禱、做克己,以及向煉靈祈求和獻彌撒。在1934年10月24日,灣仔區的教友首次向煉靈作九日祈求。1936年,恩理覺主教更親自到灣仔小堂獻彌撒,以及在每月的首主日到小堂為籌建聖堂主持特別彌撒。即使在第二次世界大戰期間局勢動盪,灣仔區教友仍在每年10月24日為煉靈舉行彌撒。

居住在灣仔區的都是貧苦大眾,他們省吃省穿,一分一毫的儲蓄,更像福音中的窮寡婦,獻盡所有。1939年,黃姓恩人墊資買地,其後更全數捐給聖堂。1940年恩理覺主教展開募捐運動,各堂區、學校和團體響應。到了1948年,當時的工務局批准建築圖則,但籌得款項只是所需的一半,最後恩理覺主教決定由教區墊付不敷之數。興建工程在1949年2月底展開,教友繼續努力籌募門窗、地板、內部裝修的費用。新的聖堂終於落成,在1950年7月16日聖母聖衣瞻禮當天,由耶穌會港區會長賴詒恩神父祝聖奠基石和主任司鐸理雅各神父主持大禮彌撒,聖堂名為「煉靈堂」。

 

煉靈堂內設有基立學校,為區內兒童提供教育。1957年,煉靈堂易名為「 聖母聖衣堂」。隨著時代變遷,學生人數減少,基立學於1994年完成了歷史使命後結束。

其後的發展

到了九十年代,教區賣出聖母聖衣堂的建築物和地段,款項用作發展其他堂區。教區和堂區與發展商商討,於原址星街一號新廈內,重建本堂。重建的聖母聖衣堂於2001年11月10日由胡振中樞機主教祝聖,正式啟用。

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電話 | Phone 

+852 2527 7240

地址 | Address

香港灣仔星街1號

1 Star Street, Wan Chai, Hong Kong

本堂辦事處 | Parish Office

mail@olmcchurch.org.hk

本堂主任司鐸 | Parish Priest

羅國輝神父 Fr. Thomas LAW

© 2019 Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church, Wan Chai, Hong Kong