Sunday, December 01, 2013

Welcome to the China Bulletin - December 2013

Advent begins with "The Joy of the Gospel" - the gift that Pope Francis gave us last week.
We have just printed 5000 copies in English for distribution in Macau, Hong Kong and China.

Welcome to Fr. Jijo!

Fr. Jijo [2nd from right] on arrival to the Macau Community
On 29 November Fr. Jijo Kandamkulathil has joined our community in Macau. Fr. Jijo comes from India. He had rendered his services for over a decade in some of the remotest and poorest villages of the North East India before moving to Taiwan earlier this year to study Chinese. Now he will continue his studies in the Mainland China. With the arrival of Fr. Jijo, we have four Indian Claretians in our community: Jojo, Jose, Ezakías and now Jijo. Wonderful people, each one with a particular talent and an ability to learn the Chinese!  Jijo will be joining the publications team.

Pilgrimage to the tomb of St. Francis Xavier

In the Last week of November, Fr. Jojo & Fr. Mario lead a group of over 60 parishioners to Shangchuan Island (上川岛), on the southern coast of China. Its name originated from São João - Saint John in Portuguese. This is the island where St. Francis Xavier breathed his last in 1552. 
The Tomb of St. Francis Xavier 

It is part of the Guangdong province, in the South China Sea. Located 14 km from the mainland, it is the largest island in the province.
Frs. Jojo, CMFMario Bonfaini, CMF
at the St. Francis Mount, Shangchuan Island

It is known in history for having been the place of death of St. Francis Xavier.
The Pilgrims at the tomb of St. Francis
The Spanish Jesuit Missionary, Francis Xavier died there on December 2, 1552, on his way to Guangzhou.

Spiritual Retreat with Cardinal Antonio Tagle

José  and  Ezakías  have been fortunate to participate in the 5 day retreat that Cardinal Antonio 'Chito' Tagle preached for the priests of the Diocese of Hong Kong. Cardinal 'Chito' (for friends) is very close to the Claretians and enthusiastic propagator of our publications
 Cardinal Tagle with José and Ezakías ...
propagandizing our books ...
By all means!

Our partner publisher

Our partner publisher - "Faith Press"

We are in the city of Shijiazhuang, the capital of Hebei Province.
Hebei Province has 90 million inhabitants. Shijiazhuang is its capital with 10 million inhabitants.
Faith Press is the largest Catholic publishing house in China, almost the only one. We publish the Daily Gospel in Chinese for the Mainland readers in collaboration with the Faith Press
It is a photo of March 2009 ... but also reflects the meeting we just had.
We have already been working together for several years. As foreigners we cannot 'publish' in China and we can only do it through a publishing house recognized by the government. Over the years, working together we make a good team: we prepare the books and cover printing costs; Faith Press handles the last proof-reading and distribution.

We wish to share with you the facts and statistics regarding the amazing growth of the Daily Gospel in Chinese over the past five years : 5 years ago we published the first "Daily Gospel" in Chinese - we had printed 5,000 copies. This year, by late October 100,000 copies of the Chinese Daily Gospel is sold out!  Such is the wide acceptance and reach, the Daily Gospel has made through the farthest corners of the country. For next year we we paln to print 120,000 copies by August 2014 and that would keep the option for a reprint if required!
Daily Gospel 2014
Now, our main project is the publication of the new translation of the New Testament in modern Chinese. During this meeting we presented the last 22 'books' of the New Testament: From the Letter to the Romans to  Revelation. A book that has 730 pages: Introductions, text, parallel passages, new comments and guidance for Lectio Divina. The New Testament will go into print before the end of this year.

We are also preparing the Chinese translation of several books of Pope Francis.

Our Biblical Apostolate

New Chinese translation of the Bible
One of the major projects that has been running for a couple of years now is the new Chinese translation of the Bible. In the third week of November, there was a gathering of these Chinese Bible scholars who are involved in this project. They are a number of priests and nuns who had completed their biblical studies in Jerusalem, Rome, Chicago and Washington. With their help, we have formed the team for the new translation of the Bible into modern Chinese.
With the biblical team

As we come to the end of the 2013, the translation of the New Testament is completed with introductions, comments and Lectio Divina for each chapter.  The text is presented for a final reading and in early 2014, the new translation of the Chinese Bible will be available in print!

We have also made ​​arrangements for the publication of the Old Testament. This is a new Pastoral Bible - for ordinary Chinese Catholic can understand well. This project was based on a four-fold criteria:
  • Translation from the original biblical languages
  • Into modern Chinese -  language used by ordinary people
  • With notes and comments for better understanding of the text
  • At an affordable price
The investment of time, energy and man-power gone into this project is immense - that after 6 years of hard work, the project is coming to light!
 Fr. Alberto with Fr. Huang, Fr. Li and Sr. Lina
after the meeting with biblical scholars.

With Teresa (2nd from left)- the coordinator of Bible project in China
Teresa works full time with us in Zhuhai (across the border from Macau).

Seminary in Shijiazhuang

Fr. Alberto writes about his visit to the Semianry in Shijiazhuang where he encounters a few surprises: 
It's 5:30 in the morning. Get up. The temperature is 3 degrees below zero. 
The Mass begins at 6 am. I enter the seminary chapel: 
There are 130 major seminarians and a group of 35 Religious. 
They are doing their four years of theological studies in preparation for ministry. 
I am shocked: 130 seminarians! 
There are several such seminaries in different parts of China.
The seminary in Shijiazhuang.  It's a photo of March 2009.
Surprise - another conference - in a rural area
Fr. Huang Yu Tao is a friend of Claretians and we worked together for over seven years.
Fr. Huang Yu Tao

Fr. Huang  is the Rector of a 'minor' seminary. There are 34 young people between 16 and 22 years. The seminary is in a very poor village, about 100 kms. from Shijiazhuang. Fr. Alberto spent a couple of days with the Seminarians, sharing their lives.
The future of the Church in China is in good hands! What a joy and commitment are seen among these young people! They are poor and their life is hard. But, behind each of those vocations, there is a beautiful story ... Excited for the gospel and for the sake of Jesus and His Kingdom ...
Conference with the seminarians.
This is celebration time! With Fr. Joseph Zhang.
Fr. Joseph is a Ph.D. in Bible and the administrator of the diocese. He  invites me to dinner ...
and of course with some top quality wine - from Argentina!

Parish Libraries
Fr. Huang has been from the beginning the project manager of "Parish Libraries - Sister Parishes". 
Throughout these years, we have sent thousands of books to many rural parishes. Fr. Alberto traveled with him on a tour of several of these parishes where we have set up parish libraries.

For a deeper preparation of Advent...

We have updated our blog, "Clebrating the Word of God" with new and inspiring commentaries written by biblical scholar Fr. Fernando Armellini. We hope and pray that these materials will prove quite handy for those who aspire for a deeper preparation during the Advent.
Our sincere thanks are due to Fr. José Márquez Ruíz and Sr. Paula for their translation of the whole material into Spanish.

Fr. Mario and his adventures ...

Our 'grandfather' continues his work among the poor, sick and young people in China ..
Fr. Mario keeps himself busy bringing smiles on many a hapless face across the border through his visits to the Leprosy patients' rehabilitation centers.  
He also accompanies the youngsters as their spiritual director and administering the sacraments for them. 

Grand Finale for the Year of Faith

Hong Kong 
Hong Kong concluded the Year of Faith with a solemn outdoor celebration and Mass at the Hong Kong Stadium on November 24, the feast of Christ the King.

Over 10000 Catholics from over 50 parishes of the Diocese of Hong Kong gathered together on the Sunday afternoon for a sharing of the faith experiences and a concelebrated Holy Eucharist.
John Cardinal Tong Hon, Bishop of Hong Kong presided over the solemn Eucharistic celebration concelebrated by around 100 priests.
Even as the proceedings of the day went much beyond the scheduled time, the gala event ended abruptly as an autumn shower forced the faithful and the priests to rush for covers!

The theme of the celebration in Taipei is: “Lord, I believe.” The Closing Ceremony was held in the Taipei Sport Stadium on Saturday, 23 November 2013. Over 15000 people attended the grand finale to the Year of Faith Celebrations.
The closing ceremony was in two parts. The first part was a program participated by kindergarten children, the youth and Catholic aborigines, all vested in their colorful costumes. There were various presentations from the pastoral life of every diocese in Taiwan togethr with some life testimonies on how the Christian faith is lived.
The second part was the solemn Eucharistic Celebration, that marked the closing of the Year of Faith. It was presided by the Most Rev. John Hung Shan-Chuan, President of the Chinese Regional Bishop’s Conference and Archbishop of Taipei. All bishops of Taiwan, the Vatican Charge of Affairs Msgr. Paul Russell, and hundreds of priests from all over the island concelebrated in the Eucharist.
Everything in the entire celebration was a proclamation: “LORD, I BELIEVE! CREDO DOMINE!”


The missionaries in China
 Wish all our friends and well wishers 
A fruitful time of Advent and 
A joyous and blessed Christmas!