Friday, October 31, 2008

Welcome to Our October 2008 Newsletter

Since we started sending this blog in April 2006, we have mainly shared with you about the work that the Claretians in China do. The newsletter is also published in Spanish at:

In this issue we are adding some news about the presence and work of other missionaries. These selected news are taken from the U.S. Catholic China Bureau, “China Church Quarterly,” a publication that we highly recommend. You can read it online at: or write and subscribe at:

China Church Quarterly – Summer 2008

The 23rd National Catholic China Conference, organized by U.S. Catholic China Bureau and cosponsored by the Ricci Institute of Chinese Western-Cultural History, met at Belleville, IL, on the weekend of October 3-5. Some 75 participants came from all across the USA and China, as well as from the UK/Council of Churches’ China Program. Almost half the group were Chinese – including 23 of the clergy, religious and catholic lay graduate students from China currently in studies in the USA.

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The 7th Plenary Assembly of the Catholic Bible Federation [CBF] highlighted support for biblical pastoral ministry in China as a priority for the next 6 years. NE Asia Regional Coordinator Cecilia CHUI spoke of the “great hunger and thirst for the word of God in China” and the eagerness of pastoral workers from other lands to assist in this field.

Emphasis will be on biblical pastoral formation of clergy, religious and laity; printing and distributing affordable Bibles in various formats and providing supplemental biblical pastoral materials; promoting dialogue and a service of love to achieve the mission of reconciliation in light of God’s work; and networking to support this ministry, especially among Chinese engaged in biblical studies abroad. Three priests from China – two of whom are abroad - and including Rev. Joseph ZHANG Wenxi at CUA in the USA – were among participants of the CBF Assembly held in Tanzania last July.

Rev. Joseph ZHANG Wenxi is also one of the editors of our Chinese Pastoral Bible.

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Maryknoll Education Program
In mid September the Maryknoll Society (USA) sponsored Education and Formation Project, welcomed five new participants: 3 sisters and 2 priests from four dioceses in China. Following a period of English language updating at Gonzaga University in Spokane, WA, they will begin graduate studies in various disciplines determined by their diocesan bishops and religious superiors in China.

These students join 25 others already in the program [11 priests, 10 sisters, 2 seminarians and 2 lay women] from some 14 dioceses. They study at 9 US colleges and universities – mostly pursuing master’s degrees, while 6 are doing doctoral degrees.

In the past year some 9 graduates returned to their respective dioceses after completing their studies.

They join more than 75 others who have completed studies through the Maryknoll Project and are actively serving the Church in China in various key ministries. Among them five have been named diocesan bishops or auxiliaries by the Holy Father; and three Sisters elected as major superiors of their congregations. Many of the priests serve as faculty at China’s major regional seminaries, and as spiritual directors, rectors, and deans of study. In addition to those who have initiated cutting edge pastoral, social and medical ministries, several sisters are serving as formation directors for other young sisters.

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AITECE is the Association for International Teaching, Educational and Curriculum Exchange

This year AITECE celebrates 20 years of providing professional education service in major colleges and universities – especially in the more economically disadvantaged regions in central and southwestern China. The program is coordinated by the Columban Fathers Society – the Irish missionary congregation primarily dedicated to mission in China.

In June 2008, the Columban Fathers relocated their central administrative headquarters from Dublin to Hong Kong to better serve their growing presence in Asia.
Since 1988, some 329 teachers from 16 English-speaking countries have served as AITECE teachers, nearly 90% of them for two years. Of this group, 58 were from the USA, applying through USCCB which serves at AITECE/USA liaison to recruit, facilitate and provide orientation for teacher candidates.

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THE RICCI INSTITUTE FOR CHINESE-WESTERN CULTURAL HISTORY, named for the Italian Jesuit Matteo Ricci, was founded in 1984 as a non-profit interdisciplinary research center. Dedicated to studying the history of religious, philosophical, scientific, educational, and cultural exchange between China and the West with emphasis on the Jesuit missions to the Ming and Qing courts, the Ricci Institute supports visiting scholars, publishes books and articles, and sponsors symposiums and seminars.

Incorporated into the University of San Francisco as part of the Center for the Pacific Rim in 1988, the Ricci Institute is a leading center for study of Christianity in China from the Nestorian era through the present day, and maintains scholarly contacts and cooperation with institutions throughout the world.

The Ricci Institute is the site of a major internet database project, The 21st Century Roundtable on the History of Christianity in China, and is home to a unique research library of more than 75,000 volumes in Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and various European languages focused on the history of East-West relations.

Visit the Ricci Institute website for more information about its resources and projects.

Retreat to priests in Inner Mongolia

Fr. Paco Carín, CMF just finished preaching a retreat to priests from Inner Mongolia, in China.

But first, let’s review a little geography:

Inner Mongolia is the Mongol autonomous region of the People's Republic of China, located in the country's north.

It is the third-largest subdivision of China spanning almost 300 million acres or 12% of China's land area. It has a population of about 24 million as of 2004. The capital is Hohhot.


Here is Paco’s report:

I had the opportunity to go to Inner Mongolia this October to direct a retreat for priests in Chifeng City. Chifeng is a small diocese as far as personnel are concerned, with only 22 priests, who have been without bishop for the last two years. But when it comes to jurisdiction, it encompasses a territory of about 90,000 km2 (originally it was 75,000 but in the administrative reorganization after 1949 it gained more territory). The farthest parish is about 600 km from the diocesan seat, the city of Chifeng (red peak). Most of the priests are young, with only three of them over 40 years of age. It is a diocese with a jolted history and with many challenges for the future. Nevertheless, they count on something important, the desire to move ahead in their ministry. They hope that soon their need for a bishop will be solved. The Church in China continues being quite hierarchical, and if it lacks an official head – a bishop – much of the work stops and a number of problems, that are otherwise small become big.
Let us hope that with our prayers and help they can continue their pastoral work in attending to the Lord's flock.

Claretian Publishers at the Frankfurt Book Fair

The Frankfurt Book Fair is the world's largest trade fair for books, based on the number of publishing companies represented. It is held annually in mid-October in Frankfurt, Germany.

Representatives from book publishing and multimedia companies from all over the world come to the Frankfurt Book Fair in order to negotiate international publishing rights and licensing fees. For five days (October 15-19) more than 7,000 exhibitors from over 100 countries and more than 286,000 visitors took part. The Frankfurt Book Fair is considered to be the most important book fair in the world for international deals and trading.

Claretian publishers from Argentina, Brazil, India, the Philippines, Spain and China attended this year´s Book Fair.

As Claretian publishers we have a common stand at the Book Fair; we share projects and ideas that we later translate into our own reality according to culture, country and language.

Claretian Editors: From left to right – Gustavo Larrazábal (Argentina),
Alberto (China), Luis Erlin (Brazil),
Benny Kanjirakatt (India), Benedict Dilag (Philippines),
Fernando Prado (Spain), and Silvia Villalta (Brazil).

Visiting the Book Fair, Cardinal Karl Lehmann took a look at our Spanish Bible, “La Biblia de Nuestro Pueblo,” and was happily surprised when he read the name of the translator, Luis Alonso Schökel, saying that he was his Bible professor.

Claretian Father Fernando Prado with Cardinal Giovanni Lajolo signing “Palabra y Vida 2009”: the liturgical readings with commentaries of José Antonio Pagola.

Books for China’s seminaries

In last year´s Book Fair, several Catholic publishers from the USA promised and later sent a huge amount of theological books for the seminaries in China.

Here is a “thank you” letter from the rector of the Chinese National Catholic Seminary in Beijing:


Dear Fr. Boadt,

As the time comes while our seminary benefactors are meeting again in Germany as Fr. Rossa reminded me, I want to take this opportunity to write a letter to thank you for your generosity to donate many books to our seminary. On behalf of the whole seminary community, I want to express our heartfelt thanks to you and to your community, and be sure of our prayers.
Our Seminary is growing in terms of numbers. In our formation program, there are five classes: Fourth Year Theology has two classes; Second Year Theology; First Year Philosophy and a Human Formation Year. Another one is the Continuing Education Program for ordained priests from all over China which we have every year. There are about 120 students in total. As the only seminary in China which is able to grant academic degrees, our faculty members are trying their best to teach and to do research so that our students will be well formed and educated. It makes our library become more important in this institution. This is the reason, the academic dean who is also the librarian and I are trying to ask for more good books on a variety of topics. You have been our very important contributor. Our funds are rather limited. Thank you and God bless you. With an open invitation from me personally, you are most welcome to visit us and especially, our library. Father Rossa who is a great friend of ours will certainly be a good host in this regard.

Sincerely yours,

Fr. John Chen Shujie


Fr. Peter Chao Lectures in Beijing

During the whole month of October, Claretian Fr. Peter Chao, CMF taught at the National Seminary a course on “Chinese Philosophy.” Fr. Chao has a master´s degree in Chinese Literature. Here is another “thank you” letter, this time by the Dean of Studies:


Dear Fr. Alberto,

I want to say thanks to you because you sent Fr. Peter Chao to us to teach the seminarians Chinese Philosophy. The students like his lectures very much.

I want to ask for Fr. Peter Chao the permission to teach for the seventh priests´ renewal course from 19 of April till 6 of June 2010. He will teach the priests how to train the laity in their parish churches. I have talked with Fr. Peter Chao and he is willing to do so…

With best regards!
Fr. Johannes Chen Binshan

Journeying with the Bible

The synod on the Word of God concluded recently. The Pastoral Bible Foundation is promoting the study of the Bible using all possible means. One of them is offering internet courses. Last month we introduced you to JOURNEY and invited you to visit:

This very inspiring course was prepared by Archbishop Marcel Gervais of Canada. Recently he wrote:



You have my permission to use Journey material in the best way you know how. May our Lord Jesus Christ bless you and be with you in all you do. It is a real consolation for me to know that what we worked on many years ago is going to have life once more.

Marcel Gervais, archbishop emeritus of Ottawa.


And then Msgr. Gervais wrote the following introduction for our internet course:

Dear Friends:

Today I am a retired archbishop of Ottawa, Canada. I have served the Church of our Lord Jesus Christ for many years. Before I was ordained a bishop, I directed the team that created this Bible study program. I want to assure you all that these texts were labored over by many competent people, and finally edited by me, before being offered to the public. I want to say to all our Chinese friends who are using Journey, that I am overjoyed that you are reading and praying and studying the Scriptures, using Journey as your guide. May our Lord Jesus Christ, the Eternal Word of God, be with you every step of your way on your journey with the Word of God.

The course is available in English and Chinese. You have to register to enter, but the course is FREE. Remember, we are waiting for you at:

Hopefully with time and effort we can offer this course in Spanish, French and Portuguese.

You can study the Word of God from the convenience of your computer. Last month we presented an interactive Bible course for FREE. We have not completed posting it, but you can already start. See if you “dare”:

Let us know what you think about this course. Write to us at:

As we reflect on the Word of God, we recommend that you read:

Final message of the synod on the Word of God

The assembly of bishops concludes its work, presenting the final message. "Our faith is not only centered on a book, but on a history of salvation and a person, Jesus Christ, the Word of God made flesh." The text unfolds in four sections: from God's relationship with man as creator to the invitation of Jesus to the Church: "Go and make disciples of all nations."

The final message of the synod on the Word of God is inspiring and challenging. You will find it


Final Propositions of the Synod of Bishops on the Bible
You will find them at:


And what about some Bible verses for your prayer and devotion:


You say: "It's impossible."
God says: All things are possible. (Luke 18:27)

You say: "I'm too tired."
God says: I will give you rest. (Matthew 11:28-30)

You say: "Nobody really loves me."
God says: I love you. (John 3:16 & John 3:34 )

You say: "I can't go on."
God says: My grace is sufficient. (2 Corinthians 12:9 & Psalm 91:15)

You say: "I can't figure things out."
God says: I will direct your steps. (Proverbs 3:5-6)

You say: "I can't do it."
God says: You can do all things. (Philippians 4:13)

You say: "I'm not able."
God says: I am able. (2 Corinthians 9:8)

You say: "It's not worth it."
God says: It will be worth it. (Roman 8:28)

You say: "I can't forgive myself."
God says: I forgive you. (1 John 1:9 & Romans 8:1)

You say: "I can't manage"
God says: I will supply all your needs.
(Philippians 4:19)

You say: "I'm afraid."
God says: I have not given you a spirit of fear.
(2 Timothy 1:7)

You say: "I'm always worried and frustrated"
God says: Cast all your cares on ME. (1 Peter 5:7)

You say: "I'm not smart enough."
God says: I give you wisdom. (1 Corinthians 1:30)

You say: "I feel all alone."
God says: I will never leave you or forsake you. (Hebrews 13:5)

You read French?

A group of people who appreciate the work that we do in the biblical apostolate has created in France an association to help in the promotion of the Word of God. They are working closely with the Pastoral Bible Foundation. This is the ASSBC: "Association de Soutien aux Sociétés Bibliques Catholiques" - Association for Aid to Catholic Biblical Societies. The members include Fr. Louis Hurault, brother of our dear P. Bernardo Hurault, the author of the Latin American Bible who went to heaven four years ago.

Every year this association sends generous contributions for the promotion of the biblical work in Asia, and in a special way the biblical work in China. To them we say: MERCI BEAUCOUP!

I invite to you to visit their webpage:


Pictured: The 1,500-ton Catholic church moved 248 ft and rotated 90 degrees to make way for a new road.

Rather than demolish St Dominic's Cathedral in Fuzhou, China, engineers have moved it 75 meters from its original position and turned its accommodation for priests 90 degrees.

Part of the 1,500-tonne church building was taken 75.6 meters from its original position to move it out of the way of a construction project.

The accommodation for priests will then be rotated 90 degrees to make way for a new road. Engineers set the two storey building on 400 wheels to run on rails before gradually turning it.
Planners decided on the action rather than demolish the Catholic cathedral in the Fujian provincial capital.


Dr Zhou Tianyong

The head of China's Communist Party central leadership school has said the country will have a form of democracy by 2020 with an increased role for civil society including religious groups and other NGOs.

The Age reports Zhou Tianyong, 50, deputy head of research at the powerful Central Party School, the party's top think tank and training academy for leaders, told London's Daily Telegraph that a 12-year plan to establish democratic reforms including "public democratic involvement at all government levels" and "extensive public participation" in policymaking and drafting of legislation was on track.

Dr Zhou, an eminent economics professor noted within the party for his liberal views, said the Government was determined to reform despite setbacks caused by "infighting" within government bureaucracies.

He also said a transition to democracy was "essential for relations with Taiwan and a possible peaceful reunification."

Dr Zhou also predicted an increased role for civil society as represented by non-government organizations, charities and business and religious groups.

He was a key author of the Party School's Storming the Fortress report, released in February, which warned that China faced social and economic instability if the Communist Party did not reform itself, curb corruption and heed the public's desire for greater democracy.

The report called for systematic liberalization including greater media and religious freedom by 2020.

The document was finished after the 17th Party Congress late last year, at which President Hu Jintao promised more extensive democratic and human rights, but was not released until this year.

Books about the Church in China:

Guide to the Catholic Church in China 2008

Editor: Jean Charbonnier, MEP Singapore:
China Catholic Communication

Limited copies also available from USCCB
US$35.00 [inc. postage]

Most comprehensive Guide (bi-lingual listings) By Provinces/Dioceses/Parishes/ Religious Congregations and names of Bishops/Clergy/Major Religious Superiors. Extensive supplemental references on International Church and Research Organizations concerned with China.

A chronology of World and Chinese History and history of Christianity in China [618-2007]. Bibliography on China Church 2001-07.


Annotated Bibliography of Christianity in China

Compiled by China Academic Consortium, and available on the web at (scroll down to annotated Bibliography). It lists some 300 titles published in China by secular publishers from 1985 to the present – covering 21 categories, each with a Chinese summary and English translation. The bibliography introduces Christianity as a cultural and historical force, as well as basic (Protestant) Christian theology. It is based on writings of Chinese scholars in philosophy, literature and history.


Brief history of the Catholic Church in China

Catholic scholars and sociologists sometimes
refer to the current religious revival in China
as the country’s fifth evangelization.

click the above image to link to the site

For more news about the church in China:


US Catholic China Bureau’s

12th Religious Study Tour to China
April 18 – May 5, 2009

Visit places of cultural and religious significance

For more details Contact 1-973-763-1131
or check our website

Estimated Costs: $4,000 (dbl/occ)
All inclusive