“Hong Kong, the ‘World City,’ is still going strong. And our new border crossing, the bridge to China, opened!”
On July 1, 2007, Sister Michelle Reynolds wrote: “Can you believe it? I hop on a bus in Tin Shui Wai, and in ten minutes, I am in China! It’s the one and only double immigration center on China’s side. You go through Hong Kong immigration with an ID card and a minute later, China’s immigration with a passport and visa. We passed through in minutes.” That was one of the predictions: the border would gradually disappear, and it seems to be true.
Sister Michelle was assigned to Hong Kong in 1972, from NY Chinatown where she had spent four years, so she has been immersed in the rapidly changing history of China. Sister Michelle was born in Lynn, MA and graduated from St. Mary’s High School in Lynn as a member of the National Honor Society. Sister Michelle entered the Maryknoll Sisters in 1960, and received her B.S. in Education from Mary Rogers College, Maryknoll, NY. Sister Michelle earned her Masters degree in Family and Community Relations from Columbia University, NY.
After this Sister Michelle studied Cantonese in Hong Kong, full time for two years. She served as parish administrator (the first lay person in the diocese) of Our Lady Queen of Angels for ten years, first in Fuk Wah Village, then in Shun Lee Estate when the parish was relocated. Sister Michelle also was parish liaison with the Helping Hand Shelter for the Elderly, and for a few years, served as the supervisor of the Shelter. In 1983, she moved to the Northwest New Territories doing pastoral work and serving in various parishes in the Yuen Long and Tuen Mun areas.
For the past sixteen years, Sister Michelle has been involved in pastoral ministry in St. Jerome’s Parish, Tin Shui Wai, a new town on the border with China, where there is a large percentage of immigrants and people on welfare. The parish also includes several surrounding villages, giving a mixture of rural and urban life. Sister Michelle’s work is primarily the Parish Religious Formation Programs and serving on the School Management Committees for one Catholic primary school and two Catholic secondary schools.
On July 7, 2007 the parish had the formal closing of the Ying Yin Catholic Primary School, a little village school in Tan Kwai Village, where she lives. Cardinal Joseph Zen was the celebrant and special tribute was paid to the fifty years of service that school provided. Times have changed, and now there are new challenges. The former kindergarten has now become a mushroom farm and training center for the jobless.
Besides working with the Chinese, over the years Sister Michelle has also been involved with the Migrant Workers Ministry. In learning about the Filipino culture and the many challenges facing the migrant workers, Sister Michelle experiences a beautiful witness to their faith and cheerfulness in the face of oppression and suffering.
As a former member of the Hong Kong Archdiocesan Vocation Commission, Sister Michelle joined the group as they celebrated their thirtieth anniversary on July 21, 2007. It was a time to give thanks, and reflect on many lives that have been touched. There are the dedicated lay women who established the Hong Kong Catholic Lay Missionary Association of which Sister Michelle has been an advisor from the beginning. After three decades in Hong Kong, Sister Michelle is very much “at home” in China.
She took a well deserved extended Renewal program in 2008. When she returned to Hong Kong Sister Michelle was joined by another Maryknoll Sister in Hung Shui Kiu, Yuen Long, New Territories and was asked to be a Supervisor for the three Catholic schools in the area and encouraged to set up a Spirituality Center in Rosary Chapel. On March 1, Sister Michelle also agreed to work part time in St. Stephen’s Parish in Kwai Chung.