Monday, March 30, 2009

Welcome to our March 2009 blog

Catholic Shanxi Formation Institute
Theological and Spiritual Formation for Consecrated People and Lay Missionaries

Sr. Clara Liu Qiomei, the director and organizer of this center explains:

“The China Catholic Shanxi Formation Institute (CCSFI) was established by eight bishops and two administrators of eight dioceses and two districts of Shanxi Province in November 2003. The aim of CCSFI is to provide formation programs for priests, religious sisters and lay people."

“Since August 2004, CCSFI has been organizing programs for priests, religious sisters and lay missionaries. Up to now, CCSFI has provided and continues to provide a two-year program for religious sisters, short courses and seminars for priests, and lay missionaries. There have been two two-year programs for religious sisters and yearly short courses and seminars for priests, religious sisters and lay people.

“15 March 2009 marked the beginning of a new two-year theological formation course for 63 Religious Sisters from all over China.”

Sr. Clara tells us unfortunately the facilities are old and inadequate and small. If only the facilities were better and larger, the Center could have accepted more Sisters who applied for the two-year course.
Shanxi Province

Taiyuan City, capital of Shanxi Province. Two million people

Inauguration of the 2009 course.

Crowded chapel...

No space to breath in classroom ...

Sisters do not fit in chapel room...

ICLA Director Appointed to the China Consultative Commission

Early in March we received the visit of Claretian Fr. Samuel Canilang, CMF. As Director of the Institute for Consecrated Life in Asia he had been appointed to the China Consultative Commission. He takes the place of Fr. Domingo Moraleda, CMF. There are 49 Chinese priests and sisters presently enrolled at ICLA.

It was his first visit to China and he was able to spend some time in the centers where ICLA professors regularly teach. The Consultative Commission for China meets at the Vatican the end of March.

Graduation ceremony at ICLA

Some of ICLA students

Veteran Maryknoll Missionaries Welcome the Claretians in Hong Kong

The parish of Christ the Worker in Hong Kong is run by veteran Maryknoll Missionaries Fr. Thomas Peyton and Fr. Anthony Brennan. Recently we visited them to listen to their experience, wisdom and suggestions for our work in Hong Kong and China.

Maryknoll priests and sisters have been running schools in Hong Kong as well.

Maryknoll School in HongKong

The history of the Maryknoll Fathers' School, in many ways, parallels the development of Hong Kong in the past fifty years.

In 1957, Hong Kong was experiencing a time of turbulence and almost explosive growth. It is difficult for many born in recent years to comprehend the difficulties faced by Hong Kong officials and citizens in dealing with the huge numbers of incoming mainlanders and their social and spiritual needs. The hills of Kowloon and Hong Kong Island were strewn with wooden shacks. Their inhabitants faced the hazards of fires, landslides, epidemics and similar calamities. When the authorities realized that the people did not plan to return to their mainland origins, it became necessary to make long-term provision for safe housing, medical care and education for the many youngsters whose parents were clamoring for schools.

Faced with this challenge, the HK Government and many religious and social organizations cooperated to build and operate schools in areas which previously had been empty fields and hillsides. Among these groups, the Maryknoll Fathers took their place in answering the needs of many parents and their children.

Fr. Peyton, 77 years old now, tells us that once he was responsible for 7 schools in Hong Kong. Three Maryknoll schools are within this parish.

Fr. Jojo has been staying in that parish for his Cantonese studies and now serves in the parish and in other centers, assisting pastorally.

Maryknoll Fathers
Peter Berry, Thomas Payton, Anthony Brennan
with Claretian visitors Piotr, Alberto and Sammy

A Major Seminary with 140 students

There are several Major Seminaries in China. The one located in Shijiazhuang, Hebei Province is the largest with 140 seminarians doing their philosophical and theological training. Paco and Alberto were there recently. Shijiazhuang is located 200 miles south of Beijing. It only took 2 hours by high speed train to bring us there.

We met with the Rector, Fr. Bosco Mu, and other professors – all of them having studied abroad and are conversant in English. One of their needs is theological books for the formation of the seminarians and that is where we come in. With our help this seminary was recently the recipient of the best theological books published in English and donated by various Catholic American publishers.

Hebei (in black): Population 67 million.
Capital - Shijiazhuang: Population 4 million.

Alberto and Fr. Bosco Mu

Alberto and Fr. Bosco Mu in front of Shijzahuang Seminary

Faith Press – A Catholic Publishing House

In the same compound of the seminary in Shijiazhuang are the offices of Faith Press, the largest Catholic publisher in China. Besides publishing books they also have a fortnightly newspaper with more than 60,000 subscribers in China and abroad.

We had a long and interesting meeting with the Director, Fr. John B. Zhang, and his editorial staff. We co-publish with Faith Press the Chinese Daily Gospel and we gave them all the materials for the 2010 edition. Faith Press will take care of the final editing. We have decided to increase the number of copies to 21,000 for the simplified Chinese edition, which will be printed by our friends at Amity Press in thin Bible paper.

We shared with Faith Press other manuscripts ready for publication. This publishing house has published more than 400 titles of religious books. There are two more Catholic publishers in China located in Shanghai and in Beijing.

Meeting with FAITH PRESS staff

Frs. Alberto, John and Paco

Visit to the National Seminary

While in Beijing Alberto accompanied Paco to the National Seminary where Paco is helping in organizing the library.
Fr. Johannes with Fr. Alberto
beside them is a list of book donors to the seminary

In a meeting with the Dean of Studies, Fr. Johannes Chen, we discussed the possibility of having a “Theological Forum” in the internet with the participation of Chinese theologians, seminary professors and others to share theological and pastoral resources and create a blog to share news and ideas about theology in China.

Teaching at the National Seminary

Claretian Fr. Peter Chao, CMF is again been invited to teach Chinese Literature and Philosophy at the National Seminary in Beijing. Peter is already in Beijing as his classes begin by the end of March. The rector of the seminary has asked Peter to spend more time with them as they value his teaching and the evaluation of the students has been very positive.

Claretians of Old…

Some time ago we mentioned to you the name of this remarkable Christian in Huangshan by the name of Nicolas. He was an altar boy when the first Claretian Missionaries were assigned in China more than 60 years ago. This “doctor” was in prison for many years for his faith, but has remained always joyful and willing to help the small Catholic community of Huangshan. Recently, his wife was baptized.

Anhui Province.

Huangshan City is a region with a long history and splendid cultures. Shexian and Yixian Counties were established more than 2,000 years ago. The city was famed for Hui businessmen, Hui carvings, Xin'an school of painting, Xin'an medicine, Hui architecture, Hui cuisine, and Hui opera (one of the tonalities of Beijing Opera). Also notable are the scenic spots of Mt. Huangshan - a key point of interest in ancient China, the Tangyue Memorial Archway, the Tunxi Ancient Street and the ancient villages of Yixian County . Historians at home and abroad regard Huangshan City as a natural history and culture museum of China.

Tunxi distric in Huangshan.
The place has a history of almost 2000 years.
Our missionaries lived meters away from this place 60 years ago.

Nicolas’ wife being baptized at their house

Nicolas and Marta getting married

The church and the community building.
The city is demolishing the old buildings
to leave room for new development.
Will the church building survive?
We do not know…

Fr. Paco Carin (center) with Christians of Qimen
– a place near Huangshan attended
in the past by Claretian missionaries

Bible course in the internet – free subscription

A complete Bible study program in 40 lessons:
Why ever not?

Give yourself a chance to study the Word of God!

This is what you will find in Lesson 1:

Lesson One
(Selections from Genesis 1-11).

Psalm 8. A hymn praising God for the marvels of creation,
especially his wonderful relationship with man.
The Psalmist, gazing at the stars, senses his insignificance,
yet is reminded of man's special place in the universe (v. 4).
Man is special because God cares for him,
because he has a relationship with God.
"Man is Lord of the earth".
If this applies to the whole human race,
it most perfectly applies to Christ,
son of God, son of man.

To outline the sacred authors' presentation
of harmony and disharmony in the relationships
between God, mankind, and other created things (Gen 1-11).
This lesson considers the first eleven
chapters of the Book of Genesis.
We will divide it into five sections as follows:

1. The Great Harmony (Gen 1 :1-2:25)
2. The Damaged Harmony (Gen 3:1-6:4)
3. The Collapse of Creation (Gen 6:5-8:19)
4. The Required Adjustments (Gen 9: 1-27)
5. The Division of Nations and its Meaning (Gen 10: 1-11 :9)

These eleven chapters hold together to form
a unit which was carefully planned in order
to convey certain truths.
It is important to keep this inner unity in mind.
For example, it would be wrong to base our notion of sin
("original sin") solely on a few verses of chapter 3,
when the author develops the notion
of sin through the eleven chapters.

Introductory Note Resource
Practice question about Introduction.Quiz
1. The Great Harmony Resource
Practice question about topic Quiz
2. The Damaged Harmony Resource
Practice questions in topic Quiz
3. The Collapse of Creation Resource
Practise questions about topic: Quiz
4. The Required Adjustments Resource
Practise questions about topic: Quiz
5. The Division of Nations and its Meaning Resource
Practise questions about topic: Quiz

Chinese Courses

You also have the option to download the lesson in PDF:
PDF Format - Lesson 1

Parish Library project

This month we received a $3,000 US dollar donation for this project. Now three rural parishes in China will have access to much needed Christian formation books including the Bible and other books and pamphlets. The parish libraries will also have books of interest for the whole population, majority of whom are farmers.

Your generous help will make it possible for this project to continue: we now have 9 rural parishes waiting for books for their libraries.

Professionals from Hong Kong

Hong Kong has a vibrant group of lay professional Catholics,
well trained in theology and, especially, on the Bible.
Lay Catholics in Hong Kong play a very important role
in the local Church and also go beyond the borders
to attend to our sisters and brothers in Mainland China.

This is the case of three visitors we met recently
on their short visit to Macau.
Fr. Jojo works with them in Hong Kong
and invited them over to our house.

Catholics Share the Gospel, and Serve the Sick during Lent

TAIYUAN, China (UCAN) -- Some lay Catholics in northern China are spending Lent evangelizing to others as well as visiting sick people.

The Immaculate Conception Cathedral in Taiyuan has trained dozens of catechists to evangelize in Gujiao, a city 40 kilometers west of Taiyuan, and other neighboring rural areas. Parishioners go in pairs to share the Gospel to people there.

Besides evangelization and charitable works, many laypeople in Taiyuan also make confessions, pray the Way of the Cross and take part in adoration of the Blessed Sacrament held in churches during Lent.

Retreat Strengthens Priests Spiritually after Deadly Quake

CHENGDU, China (UCAN) – The Catholic Church in Sichuan recently organized a retreat to minister spiritually to priests who experienced the deadly earthquake in the province last year.

More than 50 priests from Chengdu, Leshan, Nanchong, Xichang and Yibin dioceses joined the February 27-March 5 event organized by the provincial Catholic Patriotic Association and the Church Affairs Commission at the Sichuan Catholic Seminary.

Retreatant Father James Li Jinxuan, parish priest of Mianzhu Church in Sichuan province, told UCA News he had felt "so helpless" when the 8.0-magnitude quake struck last May, killing 69,227 people and leaving nearly 18,000 missing.

The priest said the retreat reminded him of how "weak and powerless human beings could be," and also how to "to be open to God" in the face of calamity.

Father Li serves in one of the areas hardest-hit by the quake. His church collapsed, killing two people and seriously injuring two others. The building is awaiting reconstruction and the local government has agreed to subsidize the project, he said. He added that parishioners are only now slowly coming to grips with the disaster.

During the retreat, other participants recalled that after the quake Catholics and non-Catholics alike asked them questions such as: "Father, if God is merciful, why did he let so many innocent people die? Why did your Church collapse? Why didn't your God protect it? Does God exist?"

American Maryknoll Father Larry Lewis, who has given retreats for various seminaries and religious congregations on mainland China, conducted this retreat.

Father James Li Jinxuan
standing in front of his collapsed church

Baoding Church to Take Part in “Earth Hour” as Lenten Observance

BAODING, China (UCAN) – Baoding diocese has followed an initiative by the city government, and called on its parishes to turn off lights for an hour on March 28.

This action, taken by the diocese as a Lenten abstinence, is in support of the global Earth Hour launched by the World Wide Fund for Nature, an international NGO. Earth Hour calls for the switching off of electrical appliances for 60 minutes starting 8.30 p.m. that day to raise awareness of global climate-change issues.

While Catholics are urged to pray, be thrifty and do acts of repentance during Lent, participation in Earth Hour helps them reflect on human stewardship of nature, said Father Wang Yongsheng.
The circular reminds Catholics that God created the earth for humankind, who therefore should love nature, prevent environmental damage, and help maintain the ecological balance.

Cities taking part in mainland China include Baoding, Beijing, Dalian, Nanjing, Shanghai and Shunde.

Baoding, known as China's "power valley," as it is at present the only industrial base for the development of China's new energy sector, was the first to declare participation in the Earth Hour.

Since 2006, the Baoding government has introduced the use of solar and wind power and other environment-friendly practices in the city.

Shanghai bishop: Materialism is biggest threat to China Church By Maryknoll Father Ronald Saucci

HONG KONG (UCAN) – Father Michael Kelly, 56, executive director of UCANews since Jan. 1, 2009, and I arrived in Shanghai on the afternoon of March 12. The purpose of our trip was to visit Bishop Aloysius Jin Luxian, who has been ill for some time. A victim of diabetes, the bishop has the added complication of having an inoperable heart condition, which has left him weak.

Bishop Aloysius Jin Luxian
of Shanghai

We went directly to the hospital to see him. Bishop Jin greeted us with warm embraces and immediately faulted me for not visiting him for a long time. It was immediately clear to us that his mind, at age 93, was as sharp as ever, although his hearing was not what it used to be. He asked me to speak slowly, and occasionally asked the nun who assisted him to translate for him. This was new. The polyglot bishop is fluent in several Chinese dialects as well as English, French, German and Italian.

We talked about times gone by and he enquired by name about all the members of my family whom he knows well. His sharpness surprised us. For a man who lived 27 years in internal exile and prison, he showed no rancor nor did he dwell on things past. [Bishop Jin was arrested in 1955, after which he spent 18 years in prison and nine in re-education camps.]

I asked him what the highlights of his life were, in his opinion. He first responded by saying that the most important thing he has done since returning from exile to Shanghai was the establishment of the Sheshan Seminary on the outskirts of Shanghai. There are currently 65 students studying in the seminary.

When I first met him in 1982, he claimed that his goal was to provide priests and bishops for all of China. This was no mean feat in a country which at that time had an average age of 70 for priests and bishops, and they were few. Over the years, foreign missionaries and priests from places all over the world were guest lecturers at Sheshan. Currently there are none.

Establishing the seminary was a result of his negotiating a deal with the government to trade the former major seminary in Xujiahui, downtown Shanghai, for a piece of land at the foothills of the Marian shrine in Sheshan. Now buildings surround the seminary chapel, and the hundreds of priests and bishops are the result of more than a quarter-century of effort.

Secondly, he declared that the building of a printing plant outside the city of Shanghai held second place. More than 400 books and numerous pamphlets, calendars and other items have been produced. The books were important since after the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976) the Church was left with nothing. Mass books and lectionaries have been distributed to all Chinese churches free of charge. I was pleased because I had helped him to find the funds necessary to build the plant in 1991, and in 1994 I helped to double the size of the plant.

Bishop Jin's third highlight was his newly established Caritas Shanghai foundation. He explained that some years ago he was totally dependant on getting help from abroad. Now, through some shrewd deals, some of the properties returned to Shanghai diocese by the Chinese government are producing revenue which has allowed him to begin funding projects throughout China.

The following day, Bishop Jin got himself released from the hospital in order to return to his residence at the cathedral. Father Kelly and I returned to see him shortly after he had arrived home at his Bishop's House in Xujiahui.

We passed an hour chatting, during which I asked him what was the biggest threat to the Church. Without hesitation he responded: "Materialism! We have lost some good priests who succumbed to capitalism surrounding us everywhere. Vocations are harder and harder to find since intelligent young people can get high paying jobs."

As a parting shot, Bishop Jin said to me, "Come back soon ... and bring a sugar-free apple pie with you next time."


Maryknoll Father Ronald Saucci, 74, is former deputy director of UCANews. The Hong Kong-based American priest has known Bishop Jin since the 1980s.

He was also the Director of Orbis Books and supported Claretian Publications at its beginning.

Some interesting news about China

More than 220,000 foreigners studying in Mainland campuses

The number of foreigners studying on the mainland exceeded 200,000 for the first time last year as more students were drawn by the country's growing economic clout and government publicity campaigns abroad.

Chinese language (Mandarin)
is the most spoken language in the world.

According to statistics:
Mandarin: 1.21 billion

Hindi: 366 million

Spanish: 417 million
(including second language speakers)

English: 341 million
(1.5 billion first and additional language spoken)


Mainland plans rail linking Beijing to Taipei

BEIJING – The Chinese mainland is "actively planning" a cross-Taiwan Straits rail line linking Beijing with Taipei, according to the Minister of Railways Liu Zhijun.

The rail via Fuzhou, capital of Fujian Province, will be part of the network that connects the mainland and Taiwan, said Liu. In a meeting with Liu on the sidelines of the annual session of the National People's Congress, Lu Zhangong, also proposed to plan a rail line that links Xiamen in Fujian and Kaohsiung in Taiwan. The ministry has been boosting railway construction in the coastal province of Fujian, planning 6,000 kms of rails inside the province by 2015 with a total investment of 350 billion yuan (about US$51.5 billion).

The railway network is expected to lay a foundation of transport infrastructure for the "cross-Straits economic zone" proposed by some members of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference during their annual session this March.

The zone may cover Fujian, provinces around it and Taiwan, according to the proposal. The shortest distance between Xiamen and Taiwan is only 1,800 meters.

Fujian has started construction on a high-speed rail line linking provincial capital Fuzhou and Xiamen. The rail line is scheduled to be completed at the end of July and put into use in November.

The mainland and Taiwan signed a series of landmark agreements on direct air, sea transport and postal services last November. Such direct links formally started on December 15.

Financial crisis?!

We hear information that very soon some huge developmental projects will take place in Henqing, an island boarding Macau. Henqing Island is part of the city of Zhuhai and is very near our residence. It is an island of 100 square kilometers set to become one of the biggest “World Entertainment Center.” It will have all the possible attractions for family vacation (except casinos, as this island is part of China).

Among the attractions there will be the biggest aquarium in the world, according to one of our new friends, Mr. Richard Chen, veterinary director of Ocean World Development in Taipei. Mr. Chen takes care of dolphins and he tells us that he even cures them with Chinese medicine and acupuncture! We shall keep you updated on this… so you can also plan your vacation!

Mr. Richard Chen and his wife
with the Macau team: Ian, Tess, Alberto and Divine.

Ongoing Renewal Experience for Filipino Migrants in Macau

More than 100 Filipinos working in Macau gathered the last Sunday of March for a whole day seminar. It is called: CREM - Catholic Renewal Experience for Migrants.

CREM Batch 3 Participants

Seminar Session

Dynamic Worship Songs of the participants

There are about 13,000 Filipinos working in Macau. During this time of financial crisis many lost their job. The life of a migrant could be very lonely and difficult. The Catholic Pastoral Center gathers them every month for an experience of togetherness centered on the Word of God.

Participants are invited to renew their faith and become active in different ministries. Every month the group increases. Community building and fellowship is encouraged and a follow up program is developing.

The Center published a monthly newsletter in full color: Magkalakbay (Co-Journeyer). It reaches already to more than 2000 Filipinos in Macau. You can browse it below... The newsletter is prepared with the help of Ian and Divine, the co-workers in our Macau office.

Our visitors from Claretian Publications Philippines

The three us working in Macau: Divine, Ian and I -
we all come from Claretian Publications in Manila.

We are very pleased to have some of former co-workers
with us these days:
Nitz and daughter Nica, Chiqui, Connie and Marlon.


Sunday, March 01, 2009

Welcome to our February newsletter from China, Macau, Taiwan and Hong Kong

February has not been an easy month for China and for the rest of the world… we all suffer the consequences of greed and fear and its result: the collapse of the world economy.

In China alone, about 20 million people are estimated to have become unemployed as a result of this crisis.

This month, together with “news” on China we share some resources, especially on the Word of God, as this is one of our main ministries.

With these English resources, we also share important biblical material in our Spanish newsletter – resources that are only available – as far as we know – in Spanish. So if you are interested and you can understand language of Cervantes, click here:

A Buddhist message for this Lenten days

Let me begin today with
a Buddhist and Lenten
thought called
“Double perception”

Take a very good look at this drawing:A frog?

Now turn it around and here is what you see:
There is always another side to a story.

(And this also applies to the “news” that we listen to
or read about even what we share with you monthly…
and certain “news” may not be apt for print…
– but you can always “turn the picture around”
and read between lines…)

This could well be a Lenten message too:
the invitation to respect other people’s opinion
and be able to look at the same “truth”
from different angles;
to be vulnerable to the truth of the other.

Now some recent news about China

In the midst of world financial crisis: Shanghai Expo

Two hundred and thirty-one countries and international organizations have confirmed participation in the Shanghai World Expo 2010 as of February 23.

The 231 participants include 185 countries and 46 international organizations. The expo will feature two highlights: a showcase of the best examples and ideas of how cities can be developed, and an online expo that will allow people around the world access to the expo's offerings. More than 100 cultural activities will be held during the six months and a summit will be held to discuss urban sustainable development.

Shanghai World Expo's organizers launched ticket sales for the global gala to be held in the Chinese economic hub from May 1 to October 31, 2010. Each visitor can enter the area of Expo 2010 Shanghai China for only 160 yuan (US$23.40) per visit during the 184-day grand show, according to an official speaking at a press conference in Beijing.

Shanghai is anticipating around 70 million visitors from home and abroad next year, with an estimated daily number of 400,000 visitors.

Are you coming?

An artist's rendition of China Pavillion at Shanghai Expo.