Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Welcome to the China Bulletin, October 2013

Mission Team in the Frontiers

Retreat for Priests 

September was a month of missions. Our team of lay associates moved to various places in China to bring the Word of God and helping the needy.
Teresa Li is one of our editors for publications in Chinese. Four years ago she joined us in our work in China. Of late, she began to conduct retreats to religious groups; and also something never seen in China, to give a retreat to a group of priests accompanied by their bishop!  
Teresa shares her story with us:
In September, 2013, I was invited to give annual retreat to the nuns and the priests in one of the dioceses in Mainland China. The participants were 23 nuns and 17 priests.

I have been giving retreats to the nuns, but it was the first time for me to guide priests through spiritual exercises. I felt so nervous. I turned to God for help in prayer. I had surrendered myself to Him and made myself available to the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

felt that the Lord wanted me to focus on discipleship. We all, priests, religious, and lay are called to be disciples of Jesus, to be his witness in the world.... To drive my point, I chose the Gospel of Mark 8:22-10:45, known as “the Mark’s Way”. In this passage of Jesus three times tells his closest disciples about his journey to Jerusalem and its outcome. Three times they fail to grasp its meaning. As I was making my point, I saw how they were touched by the fact that it is their story as well, it is every Christian’s story. Seeing themselves in those disciples they saw their own failures in their following Jesus.
God is great! At the end of the retreat, they shared what they have experienced during these days. Majority were telling that the guiding method is new to them. They had enough time to reflect, to pray, to meditate and to be with the Lord. And the retreat helped them a lot.

What a great Power! The power of the Holy Spirit! I prayed hard everyday there. The experience was great. I am so grateful to our Loving Spirit since I really felt His hands upon me for this mission. He has been using me to guide His people. Our God is always ready to answer!


Visit to Leprosy Patients

At 200 kilometers from the border with Macau, in China, there is a group of about 100 people affected with leprosy, half of them abandoned by their families. A group associated with our mission, together with the Fr. Mario Bonfaini, CMF departed on September 28 to bring them the joy of the company, the loving presence of God and the Word: Mass, confessions, blessings and joy.

Jessica is a business woman. She runs a furniture company in Hong Kong, with imports and exports to different countries. She has helped us to settle in Hong Kong through her contacts, efficiency and generous help. Ever since she got in touch with us, even in the midst of her thick business schedules, finds time to delve into what she calls 'her other family' - of leprosy patients; visiting many centers in China alongside our missionaries.

The following is her testimony after her last visit on September 28, 2013:

When you see these pictures, you can easily feel all of us are very happy and enjoy being together; it's a really family gathering.

Ling Lung is a place that I might have regretted stepping in, because since I came to this place, I cannot detach myself from these people any more. I have been coming here for four years to play with them, sing with them, going with to the farm to pick different types of fruit. As we stay overnight, they show us the moon and stars; we talk and enjoy the breeze.  I love to see them laughing with us, and holding my hand while walking, always telling me how to cook this and that.
Fr. Mario and Sr. Beatriz [also our Chinese editor] 
distributing communion to the sick
All of them have their very sad story and most of them do not want to mention this to others, because they may also want to forget who they are and where they are coming from.  After knowing us better, some started to share their stories with us, and we sat down and listened quietly. However, I know each of them have their very sad and painful story.  We see their smiling face now, but we still can feel how their heart has been broken in the old days after being abandoned by family and their beloved ones.

A very kind man told me he still has a sister and a brother, but he never let them know he is still alive. The reason is that he cares for how other people will view his brother and sister after knowing they have a brother who is a leper.  This shows a very great love, willing to sacrifice because he wants to protect his family. Another woman told me she comes from a very good family, she has a husband and children, but she was forced to leave them in order to get medicines for healing her sickness. 
We all love them and hope we can bring them a little happiness, love and care!  Letting them know there are still many people willing to travel far to this place to give them a hug.

My husband told me few years ago: “You should be thankful to the person who introduced you to these places.”  Very true! Thank you, for Fr. Jojo, for leading us to this place, and making our life more beautiful.

May God Bless All of our Brothers and Sisters in this place!

Visit to our old mission in Huangshan

Fr. Mario has once again made a visit to Huangshan, our pioneer mission station in China.
In front of the chapel with our good friend Nicholas
Fr. Mario with a group of Christians, with a picture of Pope Francisco,
and the statue of St. Claret in Huangshan 
 Fr. Mario in front of the new Church under construction

News from Our Publications

The English translation of the book written by Pope Francis in Spanish, titled: "Open mind, Faithful heart",  is published by our friends at Crossroad in USA. As we have the publication and distribution rights in Asia, the book is also being translated into Chinese. We hope, the title in English (for Asia) and Chinese will be available for distribution before Christmas.

New version of the New Testament in Chinese

After seven years of intense research, we have completed the new version of the New Testament in Chinese. The manuscript was submitted a few weeks ago to the Chinese bishops for formal approval.

"A Forbidden God"

A Movie on the Martyrs of Barbastro with Chinese subtitles
Some of you may have already seen in the movie in the cinemas of Spain. "A Forbidden God" tells the story of the 51 members of the Claretian community of Barbastro who were martyred in the beginning of the Spanish civil war. This is a film about love and forgiveness. The script is already translated into Chinese and we will put the subtitle when the film is available for screening in Asia.

Seven Years of Daily Gospel in Chinese 

The Chinese edition of the Daily Gospel is in its 7th year of publication and its appreciation and popularity has grown over the years. For the year 2014 Chinese edition of the Daily Gospel 110,000 copies have been printed. It is a service we do for the formation of Christians in China, working in teams and devoting much time and money. many ask us: "What can you do in China as a missionary?" You see, with a little imagination and passion for the gospel ... you can do many things!

Celebrating the Word of God

"Celebrating the Word of God"  is the latest of the blogs from the Claretians in China! The purpose of the Blog is for the exegesis and sharing of the Scripture Readings on Sundays. The Commentaries are contributed by Fr. Fernando Armellini.  He is an Italian missionary and biblical scholar. With his permission we are translating his Sunday reflections on the three readings from the original Italian into English and Spanish. The translations are done by  John Ledesma and Alberto Rossa. The blog appears both in English and Spanish.
If you want to be notified via email when we update the blog, it's easy to subscribe. Open the blog page on your computer, At the top, on the left of the monitor, you will see the option to SUBSCRIBE. You can also leave your comments ... as did this reader:

 The Spanish Blog

"It is a joy to have a valuable material, important and very useful especially for those who want to discover the beauty of the Word of God. The mode of presentation is wonderful. Thank you very much for the tremendous effort you are making to put online this valuable material. May God bless you and give you strength to continue spreading the Word of God to all".

"The Tale of Two 'Univer'sities" !

The University of Macau
 Model of the new campus of the University of Macau
The Macau SAR government is undertaking the construction of the new campus for the "University of Macau". This is a project of 1.3 billion dollars. ...
For all the money gained from the flourishing casinos, the SAR Government is giving something back to the society for its future generations
View of the new campus

The University of San Jose
Meanwhile, the University of San José (Catholic University of Macau), much smaller, is also building its new campus ... of course ... also with the help of the SAR government = casinos!!

New Campus (under construction) at the University of San Jose - Macau

The Diocese of Macau is responsible for the university in collaboration with the Catholic University of Portugal. Diocese's mission is to promote ethical and Christian values ​​in education in this city 'dedicated to the gambling'. Fr. Alberto is chief executive of the foundation that oversees this work and other activities of the university.

It's celebration time in China!

Most of the festivals in China are calculated by the lunar calendar.  The Chinese New Year for example, usually falls between the months of January and February of the solar year. But, there are also some of the major annual celebrations, following the Solar Calendar. In the Months of September and October, we had two major celebrations in China.
Moon Festival or Mid-Autumn Festival. This year, it was held on September 19

The Mid-Autumn Festival turns Hong Kong into an enchanting world of fiery dragons, ancient lanterns and modern light shows!
During this ancient Chinese festival, Asia’s world city pays homage to its roots, a bygone era when farmers thanked the moon god for bountiful harvests.
In true Hong Kong spirit, age-old tradition and innovation rub shoulders for a fun-filled family week.

The China National Day 
National Day is celebrated every year on October 1st. It marks the founding of the People's Republic of China on October 1st, 1949 and is celebrated throughout Mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau.

In Hong Kong, celebrations have been held since 1997, the year of the handover of the territory from British hands to China. The festivities include a host of activities such as Flag Raising Ceremonies and Parades, but the main show-stealer is without a doubt the magnificent fireworks display in Victoria Harbour.

The Eucharistic ministers of St. Benedict Church, Hong Kong made use of the Holiday to organize a pilgrimage to Shenzhen.

The Bao’an Catholic Church, also known as Church of Jesus the King [耶稣君王堂] is located in Bao’an district 71, near the Shenzhen-Guangzhou Highway in Shenzhen.
The construction of the Church was started from August 2008 and finished in November 2010. It is a five-storey building with a Gothic facade. Between the twin-spire, there stands a copper statue of Christ the King, opening his arms to bless the worshipers.
The total area of the church is 2735 square meters, and the height of the twin-spire is 64 meters. Before 1949, the Catholic churches in Shenzhen was under the jurisdiction of Diocese of Hong Kong.
But today, Catholic churches in Shenzhen are managed by Diocese of Beijing and the priests are appointed by Beijing.

CJ, the missionary novice in China

Last month we began to tell you the story of this young Chinese missionary. Here is the second part written by his formator, Brother Sid Ching :
Part - 2

“Do you want to become a priest?”

After a year my rector asked me, “Would you want to go to the major seminary?”
“Yes!” I said.
“Why?” the rector asked me again.
“Because I feel happy!”
Yes, it is true that in the seminary I was really very happy though I did not feel free sometimes because of the rules, and I had to change a lot of things in myself. But I did not really want those things because they could not satisfy me.
Yes, in the seminary I could not get anything from outside, but I really felt that my heart was so happy there because of God—he was in charge of everything, and heaven and earth belong to him. During that year, little by little, I was able to adjust to the schedule, the rules and the way of life, and I really found it. That is why I said, “Yes!”
— My Vocation Story, 10 June 2009
Paco, another Claretian brother and I went to Beijing on 28 August 2006. I knew that that day was the feast of St. Augustine, and it would take me seven years to realize the connection St. Augustine would have with our mission in China. We were originally three, but after three months the brother from Chile asked to leave China. It was during our first month in the university that I met Jiawei, a college senior, who would be baptized Catholic on Easter 2007; he asked me to be his godfather. Francis would later meet Jiawei first in the same university in March 2008, and then in Shanghai in November of that same year.

We lived in the international students’ quarters for about a month before moving to our own apartment off campus. From there, I went to the seminary every weekend and taught the seminarians English. The seminary dean initially offered that I live in the seminary, so I could spend more time with the students since it took me two hours to go there by bus. I gratefully declined his invitation, saying that it was important for us, Claretians, to live in community. The seminary later invited Paco as well to teach Church history.

In the summer of 2007, Paco went to Spain for his home holiday, then, to the Philippines in November to teach at the Institute of Consecrated Life for Asia (ICLA) until 9 January 2008. I had summer class in MATESOL in the US that same year, and in October-November some practicum activities in Macau also for MATESOL. Because of our schedule outside China and so that I would not live alone, we decided not to renew the contract for our apartment, and move to the seminary. We made the necessary arrangements with the rector, and in June before I left for the US, we moved our things to the seminary, and on my return from the US on 6 August, I went directly to the seminary.

The new academic year began in September 2007. I taught English to the theology and pre-theology students. We were informed that another group of seminarians was coming in October, who they said would form part of the local Benedictine congregation they were planning to found. So it happened that we were living in the seminary when Francis and his classmates came to begin their spirituality year.

After that, I went to the Beijing National Seminary, which is really a beautiful place. In the beginning, I was really happy to live there. I used to think that I was so lucky because all my classmates went to other major seminaries, but only me was there.
— My Vocation Story, 10 June 2009
I remember this little boy as he entered the National Seminary in Beijing in 2007. At that time I was also studying theology there. I remember him as a bit shorter than me, with clear brows and bright eyes, a charming lad. He was joyous and active. And he desired to love God. Although we weren’t close friends, we got along well with each other. We had the same passion—English. We had the same teacher—Sid. In Sid’s eyes, we were both good students. With Sid, we have developed excellent teacher-student relationship and friendship.
— Peter Wu Hongjun, Gao Guangqiang as I Know Him, 24 July 2013

I taught them English, but I intentionally avoided talking about the Claretian vocation, much less encouraging anyone to join the congregation. It was clear to me that our work there was to help form the local seminarians to become good priests in the future for their respective dioceses. But since they knew that they were being prepared for a religious way of life, they began to ask me questions about the Claretian congregation. Some of them said that they did not have the vocation to become Benedictines, or follow a more rigid way of life, but they could not decide to leave for fear that once they left, no other dioceses would accept them.
On 30 November, Huang Wendong came to the seminary to visit me. He was preparing to go to the Philippines to join the Comboni Missionaries there. I introduced him to Francis, and it turned out that they were from the same province, and they knew each other. Though China is a vast country, the Catholic community is tightly knit and well networked, thanks to the Internet. I let Francis bring Huang Wendong, who is also Francis, around the seminary, so the two of them could also talk freely.

Two days after Huang Wendong’s visit, Francis began to ask me more questions about the Claretians, and told me that he was “thinking of wanting to become a Claretian.” I did not expect that we would have any Chinese vocation at that time. I was at first against the idea of looking for vocations in China since we had been there for only a year. But there was that young man, asking about the congregation, as if sent by the Lord of the harvest in answer to our prayers.  Still, I did not know what to do, so I emailed Paco on 2 December, and informed him about Francis, and asked him what I should tell him.

Paco advised me that “he should get to know a bit more about us” and that according to the rector, there would not be any problem if any of those seminarians wanted to become a Claretian, or Dominican, or Jesuit, as he himself would support them in their decision. But Paco added, “first things first, give him time to know us.”

It was still difficult for Francis to understand English, so I gave him the draft of Claret’s biography in Chinese and asked him to continue to pray. Paco would come on 9 January 2008, so he could then talk to him in Chinese.

I continued my English class with them, with a new lesson beginning every Tuesday, daily 100-word composition writing, 15-minute weekly personal conversation with me for speaking practice, film watching and reflection writing every week, Saturday evening recreation, and night prayer every Monday, Tuesday and Thursday. We had a week-long Christmas break from 22 December to 1 January. Paco did not come as planned as he needed more time to get a visa to China; he returned to the seminary on January 16.

Francis came to see me first, so I could introduce him to Paco since they had not met before. I brought him to Paco’s room and they talked for some minutes. He came to see me again after their talk, and told me that he had told Paco that he wanted to know more about the Claretians and to discern if he had the vocation to become a Claretian. Paco advised him to continue praying and that we would help him in his discernment. The seminarians left on 21 January and went home for the lunar new year holiday.

What a beautiful place—Beijing National Seminary! But I never expected that I could not fit myself to live in that community. I do not have the energy and I do not feel happy. I thought that I might not be fit [for that seminary], so I wanted to change to another seminary. But the leader of my diocese did not understand me and told me that he would not support me if I left. He said that I should not care about anything else except my purpose [in life], which was to become a priest. Hearing those words confused me because if my only purpose [in life] and the only thing I wanted was to become a priest, then, for me it would be so bad. I want to become a priest because I want to be happy, because I want to do good. I cannot [become a priest] just because I want to become a priest, and lie to myself and to God.
— My Vocation Story, 10 June 2009
They returned to the seminary on 21 February, and classes resumed. Francis then came and talked to me as well as to Paco. But I gave him the same advice: pray and ask God what he wanted him to do.

I clearly knew I was not fit for the Benedictines. Thanks a lot, my God, [because] during that time Paco and Sid helped me to clarify what I really had to do. I talked with them for many times and from them, I first learned how to discern my vocation. Sid told me, and that was the first time I heard those words, “Francis, what is it you really want? What does God want you to do?” I had never thought about that before. I just tried to be happy and followed my heart, so I never thought of asking God.
— My Vocation Story, 10 June 2009
At the same time that Francis was discerning his vocation, another seminarian, Thomas, also came to see me. I again referred him to Paco, so they could talk in Chinese. The two would at times come to my room for a chat or to watch some videos, but I purposely did not mention anything to either Francis or Thomas about the vocation discernment of the other. I wanted them to decide on their own and not be influenced by anyone.

While their classmates tried to ignore the restlessness and anxiety they were feeling, even as they had decided to suffer in silence for the sake of their vocation, these two were willing to leave everything in order to discern and follow God’s call.

Thomas went and told the rector that he wanted to leave, but the rector advised him to think over his decision for a month. Francis also went to see their rector in the first days of March and told him that he did not want to become a Benedictine. The rector explained to him that to be a Benedictine was optional. He talked to the rector again, but instead of telling him that he wanted to leave the seminary, he told him the truth about his vocation: he went to the minor seminary, but he did not really want to become a priest. Once he told the rector that he did not want to become a priest, he was allowed to leave the seminary as soon as he was ready.

After that I thought about my vocation for a long time and I prayed. After a month I decided to leave. So after talking to my rector twice, I left.
I have really loved that life after half a year in the seminary, but I left because of many problems. I still remember that night [when I left the seminary], I could not sleep because I really missed my life there and I missed my brothers. I felt so lonely. Maybe I was wrong. I asked God, “Why do I feel so sad?” At that moment I thought that I should end that journey; I have to renew my life.
— My Vocation Story, 10 June 2009

Claretian Martyrs

On 13 October in the city of Tarragona, Spain, the beatification of the Claretian Martyrs of Siguenza-Fernan Caballero and Tarragona, during the Spanish Civil War (1936).
Prayer in preparation for the Beatification of our Martyrs
We bless you, our God and we thank You
for having called our brothers
the Martyrs of Siguenza, Fernan Caballero and Tarragona
to form a part of the Martyrs of the Church.

Their testimony of faith
and their generous pardon of all those that took away their lives
are a mature fruit of their great love of the Word,
the Eucharist, the Heart of Mary and the Claretian Congregation.

We pray , O Lord,
that we may be worthy heirs of the legacy received
and that we may fittingly collaborate faithfully
in the mission that animated their young hearts

May we, in this Year of Faith,
with a spirit of religious fidelity, disposition and fraternity,
give a sincere testimony of the disciples of Christ,
and embracing the cross with a spirit of faith every day,
may we properly walk with our brothers, the Martyrs
towards the glorious resurrection. Amen