Wednesday, December 24, 2008

A child has been born to us!

In the beginning was the Word.
And the Word was with God
and the Word was God;

he was in the beginning with God.
All things were made through him
and without him nothing came to be.
Whatever has come to be,found life in him,
life which for humans was also light…

And the Word was made flesh;
he had his tent pitched among us,
and we have seen his Glory,
the Glory of the only Son
coming from the Father:
fullness of truth and loving-kindness.
-Jn 1:1-4,14

Today we share some news from the life
of the Church in China and about our life.

Ordinations End Shanghai Diocese's Celebration of 400 Years of Evangelization

SHANGHAI, China (UCAN) -- Shanghai diocese capped its nine-month celebration of the 400th anniversary of Catholicism's arrival with the ordination of two priests.

Auxiliary Bishop Joseph Xing Wenzhi of Shanghai ordained Fathers Joseph Li Gangyao and Joseph Xu Ruhao on Dec. 6 at St. Ignatius Cathedral in the downtown Xujiahui district of the city, 1,080 kilometers southeast of Beijing. Both graduated from Sheshan Regional Seminary on the outskirts of Shanghai.

About 2,000 Catholics, including relatives of the new priests, attended the ordination Mass, which 87 priests from local and neighboring dioceses concelebrated.

With the ordination of Father Li, Shanghai diocese now has 75 diocesan priests. Father Xu was ordained for Anhui diocese, to the west.

Bishop Xing told the congregation that although the anniversary celebrations have come to a close, "our mission does not end today, but rather it marks a new impetus for us to spread the Gospel to those who have never heard of it."

The Catholic Church began in Shanghai in 1608, when Paul Xu Guangqi, the first Shanghai Catholic, invited Italian Jesuit Father Lazare Cattaneo to preach here. About 200 people received baptism during the priest's two-year stay, and the first Catholic church was built near Xujiahui.

TAIWAN Bishops Discuss Distance-learning Proposal For Chinese Theology Studies

TAIPEI (UCAN) -- Taiwan bishops have discussed the possibility of developing Taiwan as a distance-learning center for students, especially in Hong Kong and the Philippines, to study theology in Chinese.

This would involve providing online courses or videotaped lectures, according to a press release the Chinese Regional Episcopal Conference issued on Dec. 3. The bishops' Commission for Education and Culture will coordinate preparation of the proposal, according to the press release.

The proposal was a major topic of discussion for of the Taiwan bishops during their Nov. 24-28 plenary assembly.

The Church official clarified that the proposal would not be aimed primarily at mainland Chinese but as a service to all Chinese. He pointed out that it would provide another choice for Catholic students from Hong Kong, which uses mainly the Cantonese dialect in its seminary college. Taiwan, like mainland China, uses Mandarin Chinese.

As a first step toward realizing the plan, the Taiwan bishops' Commission for the Doctrine of the Faith and Catechetical Instruction as well as the Commission for Clergy will invite the dean of Fu Jen's theology faculty and counterparts in Hong Kong and the Philippines to set up a committee. This committee is expected to meet after Lunar New Year, which falls on Jan. 26, 2009, the press release says.

Meanwhile, the Commission for Clergy will set up another committee together with Taiwan Regional Catholic Seminary and Fu Jen to look into the possibility of mainland Chinese studying philosophy and theology in Taiwan.

Taiwan law currently does not allow mainland Chinese to study on the island, but the government's education department in November proposed allowing this. Accordingly, Taiwan's Executive Yuan (council) on Dec. 4 amended the Statute Governing the Relations between the People of the Taiwan Area and the Mainland Area, the University Act and the Junior College Law.

However, the Executive Yuan said it would limit the number of mainland students as well as the number of universities and the kinds of degrees open to them, so as not to affect local students' prospects.

At their meeting, the Taiwan bishops also discussed summer courses for priests set to begin in 2009. Under this plan, Fu Jen's theology faculty will offer masters' degrees to priests who want to further their studies through summer courses over a period of 10 years, Father Cheng said.

CHINA 50th Anniversary of 'Self-elected, Self-ordained' Bishops Commemorated

HONG KONG (UCAN) -- In Beijing on Dec. 19, 45 bishops and about 200 Catholic priests, nuns, seminarians and lay leaders holding key positions in the government-sanctioned "open Church" have attended the commemoration of the golden jubilee of "self-election and self-ordination of bishops."

Du Qinglin, director of the United Front Work Department (UFWD) of the Communist Party of China, and Ye Xiaowen, director of State Administration of Religious Affairs (SARA) received the Catholic representatives during a meeting that morning in the Great Hall of the People in Tiananmen Square.

The next speaker was Bishop Joseph Ma Yinglin of Kunming, secretary of the Bishops' Conference of the Catholic Church in China (BCCCC), who was ordained without papal mandate in 2006. Following him were speeches by a Protestant pastor, four Catholic bishops, a priest, a nun and a lay representative.

Thereafter was an afternoon tour to the Olympic "Bird's Nest" stadium, and benediction of the Blessed Sacrament at Immaculate Conception Cathedral of Beijing.

Before the Dec. 19 meeting, a Vatican-approved bishop in southwestern China told UCA News government officials had given him an air ticket to Beijing. However, he acknowledged that he did not know what event would be taking place in the capital.

Some Church leaders did admit knowing the event was to commemorate the 50th anniversary of "self-elected and self-ordained bishops," but they claimed it did not conflict with Church principles to attend the meeting as long as Church authorities were not ordaining another bishop without Vatican approval.

A little history:

In 1957, six years after Beijing expelled the Holy See's apostolic nuncio from China, the CCPA was set up to uphold the principle of an "independent, autonomous and self-managed" China Church.

In 1958, the government-sanctioned China Church elected and ordained, without papal approval, Fathers Bernardine Dong Guangqing and Yuan Wenhua as, respectively, bishops of Hankou and Wuchang in Hubei province.

Before those ordinations took place, several telegrams were sent to the Vatican asking for approval. But the Holy See replied by citing Canon Law, which says any bishop ordained without papal mandate, or who ordains such a bishop, incurs automatic excommunication, "reserved to the Apostolic See."

Nonetheless, the China Church proceeded with the illicit ordinations at St. Joseph's Cathedral in Hankou on April 13, 1958. During the next 50 years, there have been about 170 "self-elected, self-ordained" bishops in China.

With easier communications developing after the reform and opening of China in 1978, Chinese Catholics in the mainland have gradually resumed contact with the Universal Church. Many "self-elected and self-ordained" bishops sought papal legitimization, and some candidates apply for papal mandate before they are ordained. These days, there still are some bishops who were ordained illicitly and have not been legitimized by the Vatican.

Among the 60 or so bishops currently in the open Church community, more than 80 percent are in communion with the pope.

In his June 2007 letter to Chinese Catholics, Pope Benedict XVI said the pope's appointment of bishops guarantees Church unity and hierarchical communion. "The Pope, when he issues the apostolic mandate for the ordination of a bishop, exercises his supreme spiritual authority: this authority and this intervention remain within the strictly religious sphere," he asserted.


Related article: Vatican Letter Urges Chinese Bishops to Fulfill Duties with CourageYou can read it

Among the poorest...

Once again Claretian Fr. Peter Chao, CMF has visited a very remote area in the Province of Sichuan in China and spent a couple of weeks ministering to a group of Religious Sisters. These Sisters take care of leprosy patients.

The life and death in Rongshui of Françoise Grenot-Wang

Françoise Grenot-Wang,
a sinologist, perished recently when her house caught fire.
An extraordinary life dedicated
to the ethnic Miao minority in China.

She created “Couleurs de Chine”
to aid with scholarships Miao girls.
You can click on the links below
to learn more about her work.

Françoise Grenot-Wangwith Miao

Fr. José Marins & Team and the CEBs

Our good friend Fr. José Marins spent one day with us in Macau and Zhuhai at the end of three months of courses and seminars on BEC (Basic Ecclesial Community) or SCC (Small Christian Community) in India, Sri Lanka, Singapore and Korea. A pilgrim along the grassroots of the Church for the last 40 years, Fr, Marins and Team witnesses to a new model of being Church today. Accompanying Fr, Marins in this trip was Fr Gerry Proctor, a Fidei Donum priest from Liverpool, England.

It was a return visit to the Continent for Fr Marins who had previously been here in 1981 invited by the Claretians. At that time we visited 11 countries in Asia. Now, 27 years later he came back. The first visit was to initiate contacts between the Latin American process and Asia and to promote dialogue between the two continents. This second visit was to renew the fraternal contacts and to listen and learn from Asian experiences.

In their report they say:

“Fr Marins has developed a unique way of working with SCCs where the method is the content and the content is in the method. It is a very interactive methodology based upon a profound respect for and understanding of the presence of wisdom and experience within all peoples regardless of educational or theological attainments. He has discovered over time that they are capable of articulating what has been experienced through engaging with the Marins methodology and process. It is a way of working with SCCs that is fully coherent with both the theology and the experience of this level of Church, and so is able to deliver not only a serious and rigorous content but also the mystique, ethos or spirituality that is proper to this way of being Church.

“Marins does not bring a model that can be copied and is completely against any attempt to make a photocopy of anywhere else or indeed of any process. Each country and culture is unique with very different histories, needs and limitations. Latin America cannot and does not offer a model or even a recipe for how to be Church in any other part of the world.

“The seminars follow three basic thrusts or moments; the first being a Nazareth moment where the focus is on starting, building and developing community amongst the participants who are understood to be ‘neighbors’ for the duration of the seminar. The second moment is the Emmaus moment where we focus on the person of Jesus in the gospels, giving the participants a way of entering into the text in order to be brought into contact with the original experience of God that characterized the event described in the gospel story. This emphasis on the Word of God coming alive for the people and being related to life is critical for how the SCCs use and experience the scriptures not only in their meetings but also in the way the communities develop and are formed. The third moment we call the Galilee moment and it focuses on the Early Church communities from Acts and the letters of Paul. This gives not only an insight into but also an experience of community and Church life as lived during the apostolic period which because of its presence in the New Testament is therefore part of revelation and in some important sense normative for the Church in every age.

He tells us in their report:

“This moment of another visit to Asia by the Marins team has provided us with an unparalleled opportunity and one we never imagined would be afforded us to reaffirm our commitment to being brothers and sisters in the work of building a Church that will permit the reign of God to be felt amongst the peoples of our neighborhoods and where the only gospel that will ever be read is likely to be the gospel lived by and encountered amongst the members of Small Christian Communities.”

Father Marins is one of the pioneers in laying a theological basis for Basic Christian Communities (BCC) in Latin America. He played an important role as a theology advisor at the 1968 and 1978 plenary assemblies of the Latin American Episcopal Conference, in Colombia and Mexico, respectively.

Preparing the new meeting of the FABC Federation of Asian Bishop’s Conference

A good old friend from the Philippines,
SVD Father Franz-Josef Eilers,
FABC Secretary for Social Communications
attended the meeting in Macau
and in the short period that he was here he came to visit us.

Graduation in Taiyuan and visit of Fr. José Cristo Rey García Paredes

It is a cold winter day. The weather reads 17 minus (centigrade) in Taiyuan. But hearts are very warm. On December 22 was the graduation ceremony of about 60 religious sisters from different congregations in China who had attended a renewal course during two years.Among the invited professors were Sr. Judette Gallares from ICLA and Fr. José Cristo Rey, CMF from Spain who gave some talks about the “religious vow” –as he says—more appropriate then “religious vows”. For more details (in Spanish) we invite you to visit his web page:

New Year – New Face

Our in-house artist, typesetter… and cook, Ian Dacayanan,
has prepared a new presentation of our web page
with new contents and features.

Kindly visit us at:

Christmas in Zhuhai

On December 23 we gathered in our house in Zhuhai
to celebrate Christmas with Mass and dinner…
and a very warm and fraternal meeting.

Here are some pictures of the event:

A Joyful Christmas to you!

A Joyful Christmas to you!