Thursday, May 29, 2008

A Journey through Incredible China

Fr. Jojo concluded with flying colors his second semester of Chinese studies at the prestigious (and demanding!) Hong Kong University. And he now enjoys a month of rest… that is, another kind of apostolic activities. Jojo went in pilgrimage to St. Francis Xavier’s memorial.

We all know the story of this great Jesuit missionary. Let me just note a few lines from his life:

On April 17, 1552, he set sail with Diego Pereira, leaving Goa on board the Santa Cruz for China. In early September 1552, the Santa Cruz reached the Chinese island of Shangchuan, 14 kms away from the southern coast of mainland China, near Taishan, Guangdong, 200 km south-west of what later became Hong Kong. At this time, he was only accompanied by a Jesuit student, Álvaro Ferreira, a Chinese man called Antonio and a Malabar servant called Christopher. Around mid-November, he sent a letter saying that a man had agreed to take him to the mainland in exchange for a large sum of money. Having sent back Álvaro Ferreira, he remained alone with Antonio.

On 21 November, on Shangchuan Island, he fainted after celebrating Mass. He died on 3 December 1552, at age 46, without having reached mainland China.

Pope Benedict XVI said of both Ignatius of Loyola and Francis Xavier: "not only their history which was interwoven for many years from Paris and Rome, but a unique desire — a unique passion, it could be said — moved and sustained them through different human events: the passion to give to God-Trinity a glory always greater and to work for the proclamation of the Gospel of Christ to the peoples who had been ignored."

And here is Jojo’s testimony:

In these last few weeks I visited some places and people in mainland China, a promised land that has made me so happy and proud. The people I visited, with their simple life and their beautiful hearts and minds, had been so generous and available to me, which made me feel at home with them.

While on a journey to visit the place where St. Francis Xavier died, we stopped half way in Jiangmen. There we met Fr. Leong who brought us to some subcenters in his parish. Then, we traveled for around three hours to visit a sick person for the sacrament of the anointing of the sick. The family and friends of this old man were very happy to see us. The old man´s wife out of her generosity and good will offered me 5 yuan, which I accepted with a heavy heart. Her act made me recall the story of the poor widow, who offered two copper coins in the temple, and Jesus said that this poor widow offered more than everyone else. The offering of that old woman is the greatest gift I have ever received.


The Claretian missionaries first came to China in 1927. At that time they arrived in Huangshan. And Fr. Jojo went there next. This is his story:

In Huangshan, there is this elderly Catholic named Nicolas. His wife was admitted into the hospital. He is very poor and he lives in a very small and old house. On seeing his situation, someone offered him some money, but he refused and told her to give it to the earthquake victims in Sichuan instead, who are suffering and in need of our prayers and help. Here is a man who forgets his own suffering and pain to help others in need.

These simple but extraordinary acts of two ordinary Catholics helped me to understand the richness of the Chinese people and culture.

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