Friday, March 28, 2008

January to March 2008

Welcome once again to our monthly newsletter!

Our Macau Bulletin took a couple of months “vacation” during January and February 2008 and we resume now at the end of March. You will find here some snap shots of the main news and events of our life since the beginning of 2008.

Fr. Peter on the road in China

Our veteran missionary, Fr. Peter Chao, was in Jinan, Qingzhou and Yanzhou giving some conferences to the Sisters of the Immaculate Conception.

Jinan is the capital of Shandong province in China. It is also called "The Spring City" although, as you see in the pictures, winters are very cold there!

As we share our adventures, you and me, together we learn some China geography.

Shandong Province
Qingzhou also in Shandong Province is a dynamic industroal city, and also grows a great number of farm products. The local government holds an open policy of introduction of foreign capital, and has established strong business relationships with more than fifty countries and regions.

You can see in the pictures the future of the Church in China. These are young and committed religious that long for formation and they make Fr. Peter feel at home and very much welcome.

Harbin – near the Russian border

On March 18 I was in Harbin.

Even if you are not going to visit Harbin in the near future, it is always useful to know at least a little of its history. Heilongjiang Province, the most northwesterly part of China, when viewed on a map has the shape of a swan. Its capital city is Harbin, which is located south of Heilongjiang. Not only for its special position, but also as the center of Heilongjiang's political, economic, educational and cultural life, Harbin is described as the pearl beneath the swan's neck.

Harbin was the birthplace of Jin (1115-1234) and Qing (1644-1911) Dynasties, the latter of which had a very considerable influence on modern Chinese history. At the end of the 19th century, Russia built the terminus of the Middle East Railway here. Later, more than 160,000 foreigners from 33 countries migrated to Harbin, promoting the development of a capitalist economy in the city. The economy and culture of Harbin achieved unprecedented prosperity at that time and the city gradually grew into a famous international commercial port. Assimilating external culture, Harbin created its unique and exotic cityscape.

Population: 9.27 million, of them 4.11 million in the urban districts of the city

Land Area: 53,796 km², 4,275 km² urban

Harbin today is still very much influenced by its Russian past. A city once under Russian rule, it is now a center of trade with that country.

The influence of Russia came with the construction of the China Far East Railway, an extension of the Trans-Siberian Railway, and Harbin, known formerly as a fishing village began to prosper as the largest commercial, economical center of North Eastern Asia.

Winter culture

Harbin is one of the sources of ice and snow culture in the world. Geographically, it is located in Northeast China under the direct influence of the cold winter wind from Siberia. The average temperature in summer is 21.2 degrees Celsius, −16.8 degrees Celsius in winter. It can be as cold as −38.1 degrees Celsius in winter.

I met Fr. Yue, the apostolic administrator of the Harbin Cathedral and a good friend of the Claretians.

In Harbin we have one of the 14 “Parish Library” and Fr. Yue has taken good care of it. They also have one copy of the Chinese edition of our Pastoral Bible for each parishioner.

Palm Sunday in Beijing

Perhaps only at the Vatican you would see so many priests celebrating Palm Sunday in a very solemn concelebrated Mass. On March 16 I was at the Beijing National Catholic Seminary, together with Fr. Francisco “Paco” Carin and Bro. Desiderio Ching (both of them teaching at that seminary) and was a privilege to participate in that celebration.
Let the pictures speak by themselves…

Mass in Cantonese

As we shared with you before, learning the Cantonese language makes your hair become white in no time. With 7 (or according to some: 9) tones, one wonders how people understand each other! And apparently there is no problem for over 70 million people in China, Hong Kong and Macau.

Fr. Jojo Ancheril, our companion in the community, has completed his first year in China… and we are proud to share that he is already celebrating Mass in Cantonese…

Well… I hope it is not a similar case as it happened to me back in 1978 when I was learning Tagalog in the Philippines. I was so proud of my first Tagalog Mass, but after the Mass an old lady approached me and said: “Father, don’t worry. You can celebrate the Mass in English for us!”

Fr. Jojo has at least one more year totally dedicated to the study of the language… that inclides learning the Chinese characters as well.

Concise Bible in Spanish and English

This project is a great appetizer of the whole Bible. Many Christians and bible readers get lost on the sands of Leviticus…! For them we have prepared this concise edition, with very readable fonts, and using well selected texts of the Bible with minimum commentaries… but enough to awaken an appetite for the Word of God… that is: the “main course”.

If you want the audio version, we have posted 13 hours of professional recording in our web page: And you can find it in English and Chinese.

Spanish New Testament

The Pastoral Bible Foundation just published also the New Testament of the Spanish Bible “La Biblia de Nuestro Pueblo.”

Meanwhile a new set of revised commentaries is being prepared for the next edition with the expert collaboration of Claretian Father Francisco Contreras, of Sevilla, Spain.

Burmese New Testament

The Pastoral Bible Foundation has been working with the Church in Myanmar for several years helping to prepare a new edition of the New Testament in Burmese. We were told that the last Catholic translation of the Bible in that language goes back to the 19th century. Meanwhile the language has evolved. Congratulations to the Burmese team! We are encouraging you to continue with your work and come out with the complete Bible soon.

Our Visitors

Fr. Elias, Bro. John and Michael At the end of March Claretian Fr. Elias Ayuban visited us accompanied by Bro. John and Michael… both from Inner Mongolia. Fr. Elias is on his way to give some seminars in China about Canon Law.

Contemplates arriving in Macau

Sr. Martha, comes from a monastery in Indonesia and “of all places”… as she says, Providence brought them to Macau. Indeed, this “sin city” needs all the help that a contemplative order can give.She visited us accompanied by the Cistercian Abbot from Hong Kong, Fr. Anasthasius Li.

Fr. Jess Breña, SJ visited us

Fr. Jess is finishing writing his latest book: “Happiness In Longevity” that Claretian Publications Macau is publishing. Even long after the usual retirement age, Fr. Jess tells us that there is or should be more happiness in the Third Age than ever before… a great personal example of this young Jesuit 78 years old!

Going to the Father’s house…

You are most probably one of the many who knew about my mother’s death on January 22. Even I could not be there on time, your beautiful and inspired words of consolation made our HOPE come alive. My brothers and I are so thankful. In one of my last trip to Argentina I took this picture of my mother that I now share with you. Help us remember her in your prayers.