Sunday, August 31, 2008

Welcome to Our August Newsletter

Today we bring you news from our “China Mission” in Macau, Hong Kong, Taiwan and China.

And we begin with China…

China after the Olympics

You have most probably witnessed the opening and closing ceremonies, and some of the games, as well as the sense of pride and the nationalistic spirit in their magnificent presentation of the “new” China to the world. With the Olympics behind us now, and from where we stand, we hope that the current situation would improve, especially for Hong Kong and Macau residents, who need to go to China regularly. These past months the security in China has been unprecedented and many of us suffered in not being able to secure the necessary visa to enter.

Zhuhai and Beijing

Zhuhai is the border city with Macau. As we write a new apartment has been acquired, remodeled and is ready for occupancy. It is contiguous to the one we already presented to you as the "Barbastro House." With this new acquisition we have better opportunities at the other side of the border.
Meanwhile, we have also rented an apartment in Beijing, very well located in the university belt and near the subway and a number of bus stations. This is in time for the opening of the IUB (International University of Beijing) scheduled on September 15. Pray that everything goes well and we could solve the never ending challenges in projects like this one.

Claretians in Taiyuan – Shanxi Formation Center

Where is Taiyuan?

Satellite view of Taiyuan City

Taiyuan is the capital city of Shanxi Province. Located in the center of the province, it is also the political, economic and cultural center of Shanxi.

Taiyuan is a city of 3.5 million people bounded by mountains on three sides. It has a long history and in ancient times was an important military town. At present, Taiyuan is one of China's heavy industrial cities and accounts for more than half the national coal mining output.

In 2004 the eight bishops of the area established the Catholic Shanxi Formation Center (CCSFC). It aims to provide priests, religious and lay missionaries with ongoing formation and theological courses.

Sr. Clara Liu Qiaomei is the director of the center and a close associate of ICLA (Institute for Consecrated Life in Asia).
ICLA sends several professors every year. Recently Fr. Domingo Moraleda, ICLA Director, spent a couple of weeks at the formation center.

Fr. Moraleda writes:

“Every year 8 to 10 professors go there to teach. The Program for the sisters is a two-year live-in program, which ICLA gives top priority. After finishing the two-year program, the most qualified ones are sent to ICLA for higher studies. We also give retreats to priests and bishops in this same center.”

Our Missionaries from Hong Kong and Taiwan

Fr. Jojo shares his experience after one full year as a language student in Hong Kong

A year of stay in Hong Kong

On August 29 I completed a year of stay in Hong Kong with the Maryknoll Fathers at Christ the Worker parish. When I look back to the past year I feel happy and proud about myself and the people of Hong Kong. When I came here I did not know anyone and everything was new for me. I did not know their culture, language, attitude, life style, etc. But with the help of God, the support of my community and through the guidance of the Maryknoll priests, I was able to survive with joy and satisfaction. My first duty in being here is to learn the Cantonese language, and at the same time, to minister as a priest. I am not yet very fluent in Cantonese, but I can understand and communicate fairly well.

Our limitations can be a blessing for others. Sometimes people come for confession because they know of my limitation in Cantonese. I think God does not look at our language, but at our hearts, even as he makes up for our shortcomings. As Claretian Missionaries we play an important role in the life of the local church and the church in China. I think we need more missionaries who are willing to work in this promised land.

A Journey through the Promised Land of Taiwan

The Claretian China Mission includes China, Macau and Taiwan. Fr. Jojo has just come from his first visit to the island and shares his experience.

During this summer vacation I had the opportunity to visit Taiwan. I was so happy to meet six Claretians over there: Fathers Mario, Peter, Paco, Arturo, and Joshy and Biju, the Claretians who recently came from India. After a year living in Hong Kong it is good to be with my brothers in the community to see and share with them their missionary life. The Church in Taiwan is very active and vibrant, where the Claretian presence plays a small but important role. I was impressed by the way our missionaries work there and are able to go deep into the heart of the local people. They identify themselves as one among them; I even heard some say that "the Claretians are part of our family."

To help others is deeply rooted in the people of Taiwan. I was alone at the National Palace Museum when a man approached me and explained to me the history of China and the Chinese people, which made me feel very much at home. After a while I met a Chinese couple, who shared a lot of their experiences in Taiwan with me. When I was at the airport I met another Taiwanese friend who helped me a lot. He even took me to a Taiwanese restaurant for a meal. I learned from all these that the people of Taiwan are very generous, and will even go out of their way to help others, especially foreigners.

They have a very deeply rooted spirituality, which our presence and service help them to put into practice. As servants of the Word of God we have to be more open and generous to the present needs of the society.

Two New Missionaries in the China Mission

These are two "Father Thomases" so we were told to call them Fr. Joshy and Fr. Biju. Their full names: Fr.Thomas (Joshy) Chirayilparampil and Fr. Thomas (Biju) Parackkathottiyil. They come from the Claretian Province of St. Thomas, India, and now share their first experiences in this Mission. At present they are enrolled at Fu Jen University, studying Mandarin.

We arrived in Taiwan on June 12. From our two months’ experience we can frankly say we are at home here. Fr. Arturo and Fr. Mario came and welcomed us warmly at the airport. The very next day we received a phone call from Fr. Rossa in Macau and then the next day from Fr. Jojo in Hong Kong. They gave us a feeling that we are in a caring community. As soon as we got our ARC number we went and enrolled for the language studies at Fu Jen University. We were solemnly welcomed by Fr. Marcelino, the Claretian Major Superior of the East Asian Delegation to which Taiwan and the China Mission belong. With paternal advice he explained to us the situation here in Taiwan and China. He shared with us the expectations of the congregation about the mission in China. Now we are immersed in the language study and we are slowly moving forward. We are really thankful to those who pray for us that we may become faithful ministers of the Congregation and the Church.

Back from the USA with a Masteral Degree

Early August our brother came back to China after completing his studies at St. Michael's College, Vermont, USA. He tells us about his experience and how his studies will be of service to the China Mission.

I arrived in Beijing on the eve of the opening of the Olympics, and I was really happily surprised that Beijing was extraordinarily clean and orderly. One could sense a feeling of festive anticipation, as if the whole city, and the entire nation, had prepared and waited for the coming of the Games. Taxi drivers say, “Welcome to Beijing,” even as countless young volunteers dressed in blue and white shirts make themselves available from the airport to numerous strategic places throughout the city. I can only wish that the city remain this clean and orderly, with very light traffic, even after the Games. With almost everyone coming to Beijing, tickets out of Beijing was at 80% discount, so I seized the opportunity to come to Macau via Zhuhai on the second day of the Olympics and watch the games in the comfort of our community living room with the brothers.

The days I spend in Zhuhai and Macau come as a respite after a full summer course at St. Michael’s College in Vermont ( Having finished MATESOL, I see myself more prepared to be responsive to the actual needs of the students in China, specially the seminarians, sisters and priests. I see that English teaching should develop into content-based instruction (CBI) and English for specific purposes (ESP) as English develops into a truly global language.

Preparation for the Fall Course at the International University of Beijing

With just a couple of weeks to go before the start of this new project, we are still ironing out the last details and the most urgent one is to secure a proper visa for teachers and students. As we advanced in our previous newsletter, it has become more difficult to obtain visas to China. With the celebration of the Olympic Games security has become extremely tight in China. We hope that it will ease out in the coming weeks. Fr. Paco is ready to begin… and he expects his visa for China as an athlete his gold medal!

With the help of the “master web page designer” (Fr. Tuchu) and his good student (Ian) the web page for the IUB is ready. Take a look:


During this very hot month of August Fr. Jesus "Tuchu" Centeno, CMF spent his vacation time working on the new web pages we are preparing. He is teaching Ian Dacayanan, our companion worker, the secrets of presenting a visually simple and attractive web page and to handle intricate programs. Tuchu is a great companion in the community and we thank him from the bottom of our hearts for his great help.

Fr. Domingo Moraleda, CMF, ICLA Director, spent some time with us on his way to and from China, where he spent a couple of weeks sharing in the life, dreams and aspirations of the young Chinese religious.

Peter Wu Hongjun, a fourth year theology seminarian from Inner Mongolia, also visited us for a couple of days. He has been traveling for nearly a month now since the start of his summer holiday from Hohhot to Shanghai to Lanzhou to Guangzhou, and finally to Zhuhai and Macau. His travel gives him the chance to see China and process the theories he has been learning in the light of the life and experience of the people.

On a light and fast note… China sets sights on rail record

China will produce the world's fastest bullet train for the Beijing-Shanghai high-speed railway, a senior railway official said. The domestically developed train will run at 380 kph, the fastest speed for any railway in the world.

China will produce the world's fastest bullet train for the Beijing-Shanghai high-speed railway, a senior railway official said. The domestically developed train will run at 380 kph, the fastest speed for any railway in the world.

Previously, China planned to run trains at 350 kph on the 1,318-km Beijing-Shanghai line, the same speed as on the Beijing-Tianjin intercity passenger railway that opened a month ago.
And the travel time is estimated at five hours, about half of the current time. Manufacturing 380-kph trains in China is already possible in terms of technology.

China has established a comprehensive system for bullet train manufacturing, including basic theory, design, manufacture, maintenance and appraisal, he said.

Construction of the railway is progressing smoothly. It is likely that the high-speed line can be finished within four years, and become operational in 2012, one year ahead of schedule.