Last Saturday the abbot received the solemn blessing from Bishop Joseph Zen Ze-Kiun of Hong Kong. The 24 monks of various nationalities that form the community, abbots and abbesses from around the world and about 600 faithful took part in the solemn ceremony.
"Monastic life is important to our Church life. It is a special charism, and it is hoped that the abbey will share its Benedictine spirituality with the local Church," said Bishop Zen, as reported by AsiaNews.
Elected in November, Abbot Anastasius Li is the second Chinese abbot of the Trappist community, which was elevated to the status of abbey from that of priory in 1999.
The new abbot was born in 1961. He joined the Lantau monastic community in 1991. He was ordained a priest in 2001. His predecessor, Abbot Clement Kong, left this office in 2003 for health reasons.
The Abbey of Our Lady of Joy is in Peng Chau, one of the least inhabited parts of Lantau Island. It is one hour by ship from Hong Kong.
Founded in 1954, the original priory was affiliated with the Monastery of Holy Joy near Beijing. With Mao Zedong's takeover of China and the start of persecutions, the monks fled to Sichuan. Here the Communists attacked them, and many monks died as martyrs.
The few survivors made their way to Hong Kong, where they founded a small community on Lantau Island. The island itself was largely uninhabited then, and monks were able to devote themselves to the contemplative life as well as farming and animal husbandry. The island is now the base of the international airport.