Date of publication: 28/01/2020

Angel Garden

Council General International

Rev Chan, SSVP Hong Kong spiritual advisor, has been devotedly fighting to ensure that babies in the womb are respected in life and death.

This mission has led him to open the “Angel Garden”, a reserved area in the cemetery for those unborn children whose parents wish to give them a dignified burial. In Hong Kong, the remains of a foetus under 24 weeks are disposed as medical waste, so Rev Chan has appealed to the authorities to provide an answer to the suffering of many couples who have experienced the loss of their children.

Rev Chan was honoured by the Hong Kong Red Cross with the “2019 Hong Kong Humanity Award” in recognition of his work. Below is the document that supports his recognition:

Respecting each individual life

Human beings’ capabilities are dwarfed in the face of death. Everyone would want a dignified burial for their deceased loved ones. In 2017, a couple who had a miscarriage after the 15th week of pregnancy sought Rev Chan’s assistance to fulfil their only wish to claim the remains of their baby for burial. However, under Hong Kong’s law, the remains of a miscarried foetus under 24 weeks will be disposed as medical waste. Not only did this arrangement fail to respect miscarried babies and did not treat them as a human life. Worse still, parents who had only just lost their baby would also suffer from this secondary trauma. Amendment to the legislation is lengthy and time-consuming, but with his care for the parents and respect for the little one at heart, Rev Chan relentlessly liaised with various government departments in the hopes of finding a plausible solution as soon as possible to alleviate the parents’ suffering.

In the end, the consensus amongst various government departments was reached in merely one month, parents could claim the remains of miscarried foetuses and legally bury them in Chai Wan Holy Cross Catholic Cemetery. The place was christened “Angel Garden”, meaning that miscarried foetuses would become angels and enter the Kingdom of Heaven under the melody of “Song of Joy”.

Timely assistance to the family of the deceased

The meaning of life does not depend on its length. Many of the parents with miscarried babies had lost their loved ones before they could bid farewell. Burying these foetuses decently is not only out of respect, but it is also a kind of cure for parents with psychological trauma. During the course of bidding farewell, parents would gradually begin to accept the fact that their baby has passed away, and learn to start afresh.

In recent years, more and more organisations are offering burial services of miscarried foetuses for families of diverse religious backgrounds or even for those without a religious background. Rev Chan envisaged that the “Angel Garden” could raise public awareness concerning the respect of life and the caring for the family of the deceased. He would proactively continue with his work to educate, promote and publicise this issue to gain more support for related services.