Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Welcome to the Macau-China Bulletin: June 2010

World Prays for the Church in China
Catholics in mainland China prayed on May 24, the day dedicated to prayers for the the Church in the country, although many were unable to visit the popular Sheshan Marian shrine in a Shanghai suburb. The number of pilgrims has not returned to the level before Pope Benedict XVI issued his letter to Chinese Catholics in June 2007 dedicating the feast of Our Lady, Help of Christians as the special prayer day and mentioning the Sheshan shrine in particular, say local sources. This was because the government-sanctioned Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association and Bishops’ Conference of the Catholic Church in China have issued notices since then discouraging cross-province pilgrimages during the Marian month of May, reports UCA News.
Sheshan Marian Basilica at Shanghai
This year’s notice said that as the World Expo is currently taking place in Shanghai, Catholics who wish to go to Shanghai should follow the arrangements set by their provincial Catholic Patriotic Associations and local dioceses, and then get approval from Shanghai diocese. About 3,000 local Catholics gathered at Sheshan on May 24 to celebrate the shrine’s feast day. Auxiliary Bishop Joseph Xing Wenzhi of Shanghai presided over the prayer session and procession, and at Mass at the shrine’s Minor Basilica of St. Mary.
On 23 May, Pope Benedict XVI mentioned the day of prayer at his reflection following the mid-day Regina Caeli, which he prayed with those gathered in St. Peter's Square. "While the faithful in China pray that the unity between them and with the universal Church continues to deepen, Catholics throughout the world -- particularly those of Chinese origin -- unite with them in prayer and in charity, that the Holy Spirit may fill our hearts especially on today’s solemnity," he said.

The Holy Father wrote in 2008 the following prayer for this annual day:
Virgin Most Holy, Mother of the Incarnate Word and our Mother, venerated in the Shrine of Sheshan under the title "Help of Christians", the entire Church in China looks to you with devout affection. We come before you today to implore your protection. Look upon the People of God and, with a mother’s care, guide them along the paths of truth and love, so that they may always be a leaven of harmonious coexistence among all citizens.

When you obediently said "yes" in the house of Nazareth, you allowed God’s eternal Son to take flesh in your virginal womb and thus to begin in history the work of our redemption. You willingly and generously cooperated in that work, allowing the sword of pain to pierce your soul, until the supreme hour of the Cross, when you kept watch on Calvary, standing beside your Son, who died that we might live.

From that moment, you became, in a new way, the Mother of all those who receive your Son Jesus in faith and choose to follow in his footsteps by taking up his Cross. Mother of hope, in the darkness of Holy Saturday you journeyed with unfailing trust towards the dawn of Easter. Grant that your children may discern at all times, even those that are darkest, the signs of God’s loving presence.

Our Lady of Sheshan, sustain all those in China, who, amid their daily trials, continue to believe, to hope, to love. May they never be afraid to speak of Jesus to the world, and of the world to Jesus. In the statue overlooking the Shrine you lift your Son on high, offering him to the world with open arms in a gesture of love. Help Catholics always to be credible witnesses to this love, ever clinging to the rock of Peter on which the Church is built. Mother of China and all Asia, pray for us, now and for ever. Amen!

Marking this day on 24 May, together with a few friends and Fr. George Theruvel, CMF who was on a visit to Hong Kong, Frs Ezakias and Jose went on a Rosary pilgrimage, starting from the Cathedral Church to the Rosary Hill Shrine.

China Remembers Matteo Ricci

China together with the Catholic Church has rightly acknowledged the contributions of the great Pioneering Italian Jesuit Missionary to China, Matteo Ricci, whose 400th death anniversary was commemorated on 11 May 2010. Macau Bulletin attempts to look into some of the events of the past months to mark the 400th anniversary:
A Documentary Film on " A Jesuit in the Kingdom of Dragon"

On May 11 2010, the Church commemorated the four hundred years since the death of Matteo Ricci, Jesuit missionary in China, and one of the greatest evangelists of this country, who opened the way for the inculturation of the Christian message and gave impetus to the dialogue between East and West. In the context of these celebrations was made a documentary titled "Matteo Ricci, a Jesuit in the Kingdom of the Dragon" which tells the life of this missionary in the land of the Rising Sun. The 60-minute film was shot in Italy and China and enjoys the patronage of the General Curia of the Jesuits and the Diocese of Macerata, where Matteo Ricci was born.
Gjon Kolndrekaj, as the documentary filmmaker, was the first ever to be allowed free entrance by the Chinese government to film in places like the Forbidden City. Kolndrejak shared what struck him about the figure of Matteo Ricci: "Because he fascinated me as a figure….. First as a man, and then as a man of faith. This awareness and knowledge that he wanted to convey of the greatness that all us people of goodwill can reach."
To commemorate the anniversary of the missionary, Benedict XVI sent a message praising the Jesuit, saying that "his example remains as a model for today of fruitful meeting between the European culture and the Chinese."
Kolndrekaj: "He brought our faith as a witness to a people who knew nothing of this faith, but he also made that race known to Europe. This is an extraordinary thing because it means that he went on to create an intercommunication through to their logical capacities. Therefore I believe that such a character will be remembered in future generations."
Shanghai diocese puts Ricci in focus for year
Shanghai diocese launched its “Year of Matteo Ricci” on May 11, the 400th death anniversary of the pioneering Italian Jesuit missioner to China. The special “year,” which ends on Dec. 11, aims to boost evangelization work among priests, nuns and laypeople, said Bishop Aloysius Jin Luxian of Shanghai at the ceremony.
The event was held in Sheshan Seminary on the outskirts of the city. The Matteo Ricci year is “not only a commemoration, but also has practical significance” for Catholics on how they can continue the priest’s work of adapting the faith to Chinese culture, said the prelate. Auxiliary Bishop Joseph Xing Wenzhi of Shanghai said Father Ricci followed Chinese customs, understood Chinese culture well and treasured his friendship with Chinese intellectuals. He “deserves to be the model for our diocese in spreading the Gospel in these fast-changing times,” he said.
Bishop Aloysius Jin Luxian (center) greeting Massimo Roscigno
Massimo Roscigno, the Italian consul general in Shanghai who attended the event, said people should follow Father Ricci’s example of forging “friendship between China and Italy.” He pointed out that if the priest had not had help from his best Chinese friend Paul Xu Guangqi, he could not have completed his writings in Chinese or translated Chinese classics into Latin. Bishop Xing told UCA News that the diocese would ask all priests to promote Father Ricci’s spiritual values.
Activities during the seven-month program include a seminar, a hymn and prayer gathering, and a priestly ordination to close the special “year.” The May 11 ceremony was held after the conclusion of the diocesan pilgrimage held at Shanghai’s Sheshan Marian Shrine the same day. About 1,000 Catholics gathered at the hilltop Minor Basilica of St. Mary to pray for strength to follow in the footsteps of Father Ricci.After the Mass, they were given leaflets promoting the sainthood causes of Father Ricci and Xu.
Xu-Ricci institute launched in Shanghai
The Fudan University in Shanghai launched its Xu-Ricci Dialogue Institute on May 11, the 400th death anniversary of the pioneering Italian Jesuit missioner to China, Father Matteo Ricci.The institute, which comes under the university’s School of Philosophy, hosted a colloquium that day to commemorate the priest’s contribution to East-West dialogue.
Participants at the Fudan University forum in Shanghai
The new center is named after Father Ricci and his closest Chinese friend, Paul Xu Guangqi, the first Catholic in Shanghai. According to French Jesuit Father Benoit Vermander, co-director of the institute, it is the first Chinese academic center to bear these two names. The institute aims to promote academic research, the teaching of religious studies, and comparisons between Chinese and Western cultures and philosophies. About 70 Chinese and foreign scholars in the fields of economics, philosophy and religious studies attended the May 11 colloquium, which saw participants discussing religious dialogue and the challenges faced by the Chinese and global communities.
Ricci digital dictionary launched
Many of them also attended the launch of the digital edition of the Grand Ricci, a Chinese-French dictionary, at the Shanghai Museum later in the evening. The dictionary, billed as the largest Chinese-foreign language dictionary in the world, is published by the Taipei Ricci Institute. Father Ricci came to mainland China in 1583 and spent 27 years here until he died in Beijing on May 11, 1610.
The world map drawn by Fr. Ricci
The Jesuit, known as Li Madou among the Chinese, is widely regarded as the founder of modern-day Christianity in China and a pioneer of East-West cultural exchange. He and Xu, a Catholic scholar and imperial official, collaborated closely to translate Western texts into Chinese, and Confucian classics into Latin. Although Father Ricci did not leave his mark in Shanghai, his Jesuit confrere Father Lazzaro Cattaneo introduced Catholicism here in 1608 at the request of Xu. Shanghai gradually became a major center for the Jesuits’ missionary activities in eastern China, particularly after foreign powers forced China to open its doors in the mid-19th century.On 16 of May, Fr. Rossa together with his brother and his family were in the cathedral of Beijing, the place where the Fr. Matteo Ricci was working 400 years ago. In the photo are: Fr. Rossa, CMF, brother of Fr. Rossa, Victor, Bety his wife and their daughter Andrea.

Hopes for Ricci’s helper to become a saint too
Catholics are hoping that Paul Xu Guangqi, the first Catholic in Shanghai, may also be proclaimed a saint along with Father Matteo Ricci. Italian Jesuit Father Matteo Ricci (1552-1610) and Catholic Chinese imperial official Paul Xu Guangqi (1562-1633) collaborated closely in Beijing to translate Western texts on mathematics, hydraulics, astronomy, trigonometry and geography into Chinese.
They also translated Confucian classics into Latin so as to introduce the dominant Chinese philosophy to Europe. Father Ricci arrived in Beijing in 1601 and the Chinese emperor allowed him to stay in the capital until his death on May 11, 1610. His native Macerata diocese in Italy re-launched the process of his beatification in January.
Some Shanghai Catholics told UCA News that they hoped Xu could also enjoy the same honor, as their diocese would begin a similar process soon. Xu, a Shanghai-born bureaucrat, agricultural scientist, astronomer and mathematician of the Ming dynasty, first met Father Ricci in 1600 and was impressed by his knowledge and holiness.Xu was baptized three years later and took on the name of Paul. He then invited another Jesuit priest to spread the Gospel in his birthplace. His family became the first Catholic family in Shanghai.
Xu died in Beijing in 1633 and was buried in today’s Xujiahui district in downtown Shanghai, where his family used to live. In 1847, Jesuit missioners built their missionary headquarters on a large piece of land in Xujiahui.
Ricci exhibition in Shanghai
Father Ricci and Xu translated Euclid’s Elements, the mathematical and geometric treatise by the Greek mathematician, and their work is on display at the Shanghai Museum from April 3-May 23. Shanghai is the second stop of the touring exhibition titled Matteo Ricci: An Encounter of Civilizations in Ming China, which would coincide with the Shanghai World Expo, which runs from May to October.

The exhibition has attracted crowds of visitors, including local priests, nuns and laypeople. They described it as “worth seeing” and “very fruitful.” The exhibition is organized by Italy’s Marche Region, which covers Macerata, to mark the death anniversary of Father Ricci and the 40th anniversary of diplomatic ties between China and Italy. The 113 exhibits come from museums in mainland China and Italy. In the Photo: Justin, brother of Fr. Rossa and his family at the Museum of History in Shanghai where the exhibition on Matteo Ricci is arranged

A day in the life of Fr. Jojo - Claretian Missionary in Macau

Fr. Jojo Ancheril shares his experiences, views and vision of a missionary in Macau.
What is a typical day of a Claretian Missionary in Macau like? Can you describe some of your activities?
Three years ago I arrived at Macau after working five years in very poor missions in the North East of India. After studying the language Cantonese the Bishop of Macau assigned to me to work in the Parish of San Lorenzo. My day in the morning begins uniting me to the prayers of people; and the celebration of the Eucharist. Frequently I also celebrate the Mass in old age homes and others centers of Caritas.
How is the parish where you are serving? Give us some details…
The parish of San Lorenzo is the most beautiful church of Macau and is visited by many tourists every day. And it is a very active parish. The P. Domingo, the parish priest, is the youngest priest of the diocese and works by far enthusiasm and creativity. There are many pious associations in the parish and I am associated with some of them. Some days I go to different schools to hear the confessions and to be with the young people and to speak to them, to accompany and to help them in whatever way I can. I keep myself occupied meeting people, especially old that looks for our aid, visiting patients, visiting the jails and visiting the handicapped people where groups of nuns work with admirable dedication.
You speak the language of the people already. Is it still difficult to communicate with them? What are the challenges?
Well I do understand the language of the people but sometimes it is difficult to communicate with them. The Cantonese language has got many double meanings and being a foreigner it is difficult to understand the nuances of the language often. The culture and custom of the people are very different from mine and it is really a challenge to get into a new culture and custom.
You are organizing the youth… what are the activities you have with them?
The important thing is to be with them. We have different activities, meetings, games, prayer services etc. Many of these youngsters are very generous and are ready to confront challenges than to escape into the comforts of an easy life that the Urbanised Macau offers to them
What can a foreign missionary do in Macau?
As missionary we have total freedom of movement and action in Macau. Although this is China we have religious freedom, not like in the Mainland. Macau is ruled by "one country, two systems" theory. It is necessary to gain the affection and the support of people. This is an uphill task but one can indeed scale.
What are the source of your joy and fulfillment as a missionary?
Well there are very many opportunities to live and practice our missionary life here in Macau and it gives an inner joy and peace. The most joyful and satisfactory moments of my priestly life are the moments in which I administer the sacraments, especially the sacrament of Reconciliation.
What are the greatest challenges in your ministry?
The materialism, the language, the new culture and customs… Macau is the city of "game". It attracts Thirty million tourists into this city of half a million inhabitants. For the Christians of Macau, to cultivate and to mature in faith and Christian commitment are a great challenge, especially for the young people.