Saturday, October 06, 2012

Welcome to the China-Macau Bulletin, October 2012

The temperature in China has become more benign with the early Fall, after five months of intense heat. Yet, in turn the political temperature is soaring high, with the pending changes at the top of the Chinese political leadership, which are held every 10 years.

Mid-Autumn Festival, China National Day & the boat tragedy

The last week of September and the first week of October were two eventful weeks in this part of the region. What was supposed to be a time of festivities, exchange of moon cakes, celebration of the National Day and the subsequent holidays were suddenly turned into a time of tragedy,shock and sorrow. 

The Mid Autumn Festival

“May we live long and share the beauty of the moon together, even if we are hundreds of miles apart,” says the romantic Chinese poem. These ancient sentiments are still embodied in the way Chinese people celebrate the Mid-Autumn Festival: together, and preferably under the glow of a full moon.
The Chinese have been celebrating this festival since at least the early Tang dynasty (618 – 907). In the past, people would make offerings of alcohol, fruit and other foods to the moon god, to express gratitude for a bumper harvest. 
 A lantern display during the Mid Autumn Festival in Hong Kong

The festival is now associated more with lanterns and the eating of moon cakes. Despite the rustic origins of the Mid-Autumn Festival, the highly-urbanised city like Hong Kong still celebrates this holiday.
In fact, the city celebrates it in style and with its characteristic penchant for fusing tradition with innovation.

Today, to be in Hong Kong or Macau during Mid-Autumn is to enjoy a metropolitan manifestation of an ancient harvest festival, complete with fiery dragons, shining lanterns and nouveau festival foods. 
All across the city, people will be gathering for family meals and enjoying lantern displays and a festival atmosphere in the light of the full moon. And of course with the exchange of Moon Cakes! 
What's the big deal about moon cakes?
This traditional pastry is everywhere during the Mid-Autumn Festival, but few actually get eaten.

                               Moon-cakes: can't avoid 'em, can't eat 'em!

The traditional pastry eaten during the Mid-Autumn Festival can have up to 1,000 calories per piece and most Chinese people admit that they don't even like the flavor. According to statistics, each Hong Kong family bought three boxes of moon cakes on average last year, but they discarded a total of 2.5 million moon cakes.

So why is Hong Kong and mainland China caught up in moon cake madness every year during the Mid-Autumn Festival? Come the fifteenth day of the eighth month of the lunar calendar, bakeries set up their special moon cake counters just to service customers seeking a box of the pastries.

The National Day Celebrations

The National Day of the People's Republic of China is celebrated every year on October 1. It is a public holiday in the People's Republic of China to celebrate their national day. The PRC was founded on October 1, 1949 with a ceremony at Tiananmen Square. 

The National Day marks the start of one of the two Golden Weeks in the PRC. Golden Week refers to the week-long public holidays. China Golden Week is when 1.3 billion people are given eight days off from work -- at the same time.
And what happens?

Here are some incredible stats that came out of China Golden Week, which started on September 30

Day 1: The government decides that highways will go toll-free for Golden Week. Very generous. But the result is vehicular paralysis as 86 million people take to the roads, a 13 percent increase on last year. 

Drivers were seen walking their dogs and playing tennis as they wait for the traffic to move.

October 2: The Forbidden City in Beijing has its highest attendance day ever -- 182,000 visitors go to the historical imperial palace.

October 3: The number of travelers to 119 destinations in China in the first four days total 18.2 million people, an increase of 23 percent from last year's Golden Week. 

October 4: The Mausoleum of Sun Yat-sen in Nanjing is visited by 215,000 people. This is 10 times the number of visitors on a regular busy day at the site.  The government decides to take measures to ease gridlock across China. Vehicles with fewer than seven seats can pass through toll gates without stopping.

The National Day is celebrated throughout mainland China, Hong Kong, and Macau with a variety of government-organised festivities, including fireworks and concerts.
Chinese attendees dressed in ethnic minority traditional costumes walk toward the Monument to the People's Heroes during a ceremony marking National Day at Tiananmen Square in Beijing, Oct. 1, 2012.
National Day Fireworks held at Victoria Harbour, Hong Kong 

 These are a few more visuals from the National Day Celebrations in Hong Kong

The boat tragedy that marred the festivities

The festivities in Hong Kong had an abrupt halt as the news media began to carry the news and visuals of a collision of two passenger boats near Lamma Island of Hong Kong, resulting in 39 people dead [as on 6th October] and over a hundred injured. 

Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying (4th L), Chief Secretary Carrie Lam (5th L) and other government officials take part in a three-minute silence outside the government headquarters, October 4, 2012, as part of the three-day city-wide mourning for those who died in a ferry collision disaster on Monday.

Friday, October 05, 2012

State launches religious charity campaign

China’s State Administration for Religious Affairs (SARA) launched the first nationwide Week of Religious Charity in Mid-September. This follows a document released by the government in February that encourages religious groups to perform charitable activities.

The weeklong campaign from September 17-23 began with an opening ceremony and conference in Wuhan city, capital of central Hubei province. About 200 representatives from government-recognized Buddhist, Catholic, Islamic, Protestant and Taoist groups, officials and scholars were present. A SARA press release  said there are nearly 5,500 religious groups, about 130,000 sites for religious activities, 360,000 clergy and more than 100 million religious believers in China.

It cited incomplete statistics that money donations for charitable purposes from the religious sector amounted to three billion yuan (US$475 million) in the last five years, of which 250 million yuan were from Catholics.

80 new seminarians and 213 religious

Seminaries in China have received 80 new seminarians in this new school year while 213 women also entered into the training for the consecrated life.

Nine major seminaries in China have opened their doors in September to the new candidates. It is the beginning of seven years of intense study and faith formation. Earlier this year, in the month of June, 52 seminarians graduated after completing their studies.Recognizing the need for good training, the seminaries in China now offer varied courses on religion, theology, pastoral care,  catechism etc. 213 nuns are also studying in the major seminaries.

Body is in decay, yet he keeps faith alive!

I was visiting this house for the leprosy affected for the first time. A few of them are able to move on their own. Others are bed-ridden. The centre has a small room, with holy pictures and calenders on the wall for display. Whenever a priest visits them, they have the Eucharist celebrated here. 
 During our visit to the leprosy affected people
What captured my attention was a calendar of several sheets - with the Word of God, hand-written on it. One of the Catholic inmates of the centre shared his story. He spends his time writing the Word of God in big letters in the calendar and hangs it on the wall, for easy recall! His body is decaying, yet has a very healthy faith, healthier perhaps than many of 'healthy' us!

Thursday, October 04, 2012

294 baptisms in eight months in Nanjing

Nanjing, a city of 6 million people, has a special place in our Mission, because the printing press that undertakes all our Biblical printing works is situated in this City.

In the first 8 months of 2012 the diocese of Nanjing welcomed 294 new members after a long journey of preparation and catechesis. More than 400 catechumens participated in the formative stage and 294 were baptized. Both in this diocese and throughout the country, the Church focuses on the faith formation; training for the mission ahead.
To connect with Christians, all parishes are also using social communication network, including the use of internet, texting, etc.. But, they say, 'do not forget the personal contact and visits to families'.

Faith, witness and evangelization

At the outset of the Year of Faith, these three words: faith - Testimony - evangelization synthesize the program of the diocese of Xian Xian, in the province of He Bei. The program  for the year hosted by the Diocese includes theological refresher courses for priests and religious from 15 to 18 March, 2013. 

On July 20, the diocese will celebrate the Feast of the 56 Martyrs of Xian Xian and then publish a book with the history of these martyrs. On August 17 ​​there will be a Youth Congress. And on 19 and 20 October, on the occasion of Mission, there will be a Congress of Evangelization. And on 23 November 2013, the Diocese will celebrate the solemn closing of the Year of Faith

The diocese accounts for about 75,000 Catholics and 100 priests. It has 206 churches and chapels under its territory. This local community has sent dozens of priests and nuns to study abroad.

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Father Gabriele Alegra, who oversaw the translation of the Bible into Chinese, is beatified

A humble man, ready to wash the floors in place of any seminarian, a holy man, who spent his free time in silence before the tabernacle, a man of strong faith that sustained him in his " titanic work " of translating the Bible into Chinese: this is how Card. Angelo Amato, prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, described the figure of Fr. Gabriele Maria Allegra, who was beatified on September 29 in Acireale (Catania), in the diocese where he took the first steps of his Franciscan vocation. 

The ceremony was attended by thousands of faithful. At first it was planned inside the cathedral, but then was moved to the square in front of the building, due to the unexpected large number of participants.
In his homily, after describing the childhood of the blessed, Card. Amato said that "it was in 1928, on the occasion of the seventh anniversary of the death of Blessed John of Montecorvino (1328-1928), first archbishop of Kambalek (Beijing), when the irresistible vocation to go as a missionary to China first exploded within him.
It was then that the young student of theology first thought of the idea of ​​translating the Bible into Chinese. Given that there was no Catholic version of  Holy Scripture in the that language, he proposed to go to China to realize this dream. And so it was. He began this effort alone in Heng Yang on April 11, 1935, he then went to Beijing and concluded in Hong Kong in 1961. This was the great literary enterprise of the Chinese Catholic Church, praised by Catholics and non-Catholics. "

There was also a group from Hong Kong, led by Card. Joseph Zen, bishop emeritus of the city where Fr. Allegra lived.
 Relics of Bl. Gabriele Alegra [雷永明神父] on display in the Immaculate Conception Cathedral Church in Hong Kong, on 4 October 2012
- Report Courtesy:; Photos: Kung Kao Po

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Our publications ...

Every month we present
editorial work we have done.

This month we introduce
"the first Bible in Spanish with Lectio Divina."
This Bible provides
reading-guidelines - Lectio
for each chapter of the Bible
(Read, Reflect, Pray, Act).
A pioneering work: 2400 pages, printed in two colors.
This new Bible is now in press.
Here's the cover:


These slides would best explain the Paradox, that Hong Kong is. 

 [View the slide in full-screen to read the captions]