Sunday, April 08, 2012

Claretians in China

In 1929, when the Claretian first put foot in China, this was a country very different from today, 18 years earlier, in 1911, the Qing dynasty fell after the Wuchang uprising and a struggling young Republic disintegrate between fighting warlords and colonial desire of Western powers. The first Claretian adventure in Kaifeng (Henan) was an unsuccessful one. Later Fr. Fogued, obtained in 1933 the Vicariate of Tunxi (Anhui) as the first mission centre of Claretians China.

Tunxi (Huangshan) is a very old city with lots of history.
This is a prefecture established 2200 years ago.
Tunxi (Huangshan) was the first Claretian mission in China

In total 27 Claretians have lived in China in the past: 25 Spanish, a Brazilian and an Italian. Two of them died while serving in the mission. In 1949 the Chinese Communist Party came to power ​​and the last Claretians were expelled out of China in November 1952. They left behind 22 years of hard work and countless dreams. Many wanted to go to that mission, including Rafael Briega, one of the Martyrs of Barbastro.

The Claretian expelled or returned to their countries joined other Claretian missions in Asia: the Philippines and Japan. Rafel Briega , one of the young martyrs of Barbastro, studied Chinese and wrote a message to the missionaries in China in 1936: "I can not be a missionary in China as I would have liked.... offer my blood for the China mission, and when I get to heaven I will not forget to pray for this mission to China."
On the occasion of the beatification of the martyrs of Barbastro in 1992 Claretians undertook the initiatives to resume our Missionary endeavours in China and in 1994 opened a mission in Taiwan. The Mission in Macao was opened in January 2006. The South Korean Claretians have made their presence in Harbin, in the North of China. Since then, missionaries begin to have a continuous presence in mainland China. Today, after 6 years, the Claretian work in China is beginning to demand new approaches, moving from 'the landing and first contact' to design strategies that lay the groundwork for the future. Today there are 14 Claretians working in China-Taiwan region. Against the "Hispanic" in those years, the presence today is as varied as the same as the congregation: Argentina (1), Chile (1), China (1), Spain (1), India (6), Italy (1), Macao (1), Taiwan (1) and Poland (1).

The Claretian who work in China (Fr. Paco , who sends us this note, is the first from left).

The missionary work we do is basically to support the local Church wherever we are. In Taiwan and Macau-Hong Kong we have direct presence in parishes, seminaries, publications ...

Fr. Paco (second from right) with a group of Chinese priests

We have traced the former Claretian mission of Huangshan in 1995 and since then we have helped to build a simple church and start organizing Christian communities in our first ever mission in the mainland.

The new church building is under construction in Huangshan,
the first Claretian mission in China

With the support of Proclade and other institutions, we collaborate in the promotion of the Bible in China and in the formation of priests, religious and lay pastoral workers. Many who read Solidarity and Mission sure you have also brought your two cents. Thanks and welcome, provided, this fascinating and promising land. -Fan Kailing

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