Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Welcome to the China Bulletin March & April 2014

We Missionaries in China 

wish all our friends across the borders 

A blessed

A Joyous  Season of Easter

Shared Mission

We have seven years of missionary presence, study and work inclusive, in Hong Kong and Macau. Over the years, the Lord has brought to us 'like-minded' laity, who share our mission. The group of friends in Hong Kong and Macau have been of tremendous support to us in recent years, and have generously shared the three "T": Time, Talent and Treasure. They have opened the doors for the distribution of our publications and are actively involved in our ministry to the needy. Moreover, they take care of us like a family, while we lack nothing!
Fr. Jose speaks to a gathering of Claretian Friends in Hong Kong on 31 March
The group of "Shared Mission"

Bishop of Shanghai dies at 96

The president of the “underground” Catholic community's bishops’ conference in China, Bishop Joseph Fan Zhongliang of Shanghai, died on 16 March, Sunday. He was 96, and was suffering from prolonged illness. The authorities have allowed two days for the faithful to pay their respects to the Jesuit bishop. Shanghai has lost a “steadfast and persevering” leader in Bishop Fan, said Anthony Lam Sui-ki, senior researcher at the Holy Spirit Study Centre in Hong Kong.He was a well respected churchman, Lam said on Monday, noting that even all young priests from the “open” community went to get Bishop Fan’s blessing before they were ordained.

About 5,000 people attended the funeral Mass of Bishop Joseph Fan Zhongliang, president of China's 'underground' Bishops’ Conference, on 22 March, Saturday in Shanghai. The four-hour ceremony, held in Latin and Chinese, was celebrated by Father Zhu Yude, head of the underground community of Shanghai. Among the concelebrants were 61 priests from the 'open' and underground Catholic communities from various parts of China.

Bishop Fan was born in 1918 and baptized at 14 years old. He entered the Jesuit Society in 1938 and was ordained a priest in 1951. In 1955, he and the then Bishop Ignatius Kung (Gong Pin-mei, who later became a cardinal) and a number of priests were imprisoned accused of revolutionary crimes. The future Bishop Fan was sentenced to 20 years imprisonment in Qinghai province.
A mourning faithful at the funeral Mass
After his release, he became a high school teacher before being allowed to return to Shanghai. He was secretly ordained as coadjutor bishop of Shanghai in 1985 and succeeded Cardinal Kung when he died in 2000. “His name ‘Zhong’ and ‘Liang’ [loyal and kind] reflected his virtues throughout his life,” a layperson said on Monday.


Goodbye ...
Our Chapel in Zhuhai: Colin , Jijo , Mario , Carol , 
Alberto and Pablo at farewell Mass
Carol and Colin Tam, our friends and neighbors 'downstairs' in Zhuhai. Always willing to lend a hand in what we needed in the last 7 years. They are 'Chinese' but live in the United States. Now older and retired, go home and leave their apartment, fully furnished for our use! The Diocese of Macao 'bought' the apartment and Fr. Jojo is the administrator. Part of our apostolic work is to invite groups of pastoral agents (priests, seminarians, religious, catechists, etc..) To spend a week in Macau for courses or pastoral retreat. Not everyone can get a visa to leave China, and so this house (and ours) is an oasis to recharge.

Day of Consecrated Life in Macau

The Church celebrates the Day of Consecrated Life - February 2, 
on the Feast of the Presentation of Jesus.
This year the religious Macau have met with the bishop: 
For a sharing, Mass and agape.
More than 100 priests and nuns attended the Eucharistic celebration ...
... Chaired by the Bishop of Macau, Bishop Joseph Lai.
Fr. John Ledesma, a Salesian who lives in our community,
spoke about the 'Challenges of Religious Life Today'.

Our visitors ...

Cenacle Sisters visiting our house in Zhuhai. They are from the Philippines, Singapore, and New Zealand. Fr. Mario, our 'grandfather' in the middle.
These Sisters specialize in spiritual direction, retreats, and other educational and apostolic activities. They have just opened a community in Macau and collaborate with us in some of the ministries.

From the Editor's Desk

The ministry of the Word
It is one of the ministries that characterizes us in Macau: publication of books. We are pleased to introduce to our readers some of the latest titles from Claretian Publications, Macau

 "Letters and Revelation"
We have just published the last part of the New Testament in simplified Chinese, for distribution within China. They are the last 22 'books' of the New Testament. Previously we have published the four Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles. The next step is to publish the entire New Testament in one volume: New Chinese text, with introductions, commentary and guidance for 'prayerful reading' or Lectio Divina.
The Book was released on 31 March.
This is the announcement of the new book in a weekly newspaper for all dioceses, parishes and pastoral centers in China. The book has 736 pages. Pastoral Bible Foundation has subsidized the book for the Church in Mainland China and is sold at a retail price of $ 2.40

Our Dream Project: New Chinese New Testament
After seven years of hard work, finally the new translation of the New Testament in modern Chinese is going into press.

The new translation of the New Testament is a direct translation from Greek, supplemented with extensive introductions, notes, references and a guide to Lectio Divina [Reading, Reflecting and Praying] for each section of the New Testament. Here is the cover designed by a Claretian priest, Mino Cerezo Barredo :

"A Year with Pope Francis"
With the coming of the Pope Francisco we have created a special series to carry his message of evangelical freshness to our people, especially in Asia. Some time ago we announced the publication of a pocket-size book with collection of quotes from the writings of Pope Francis. The book was edited by Fr. Alberto himself. The quotes of Pope Francis are arranged with a monthly theme and a thought for each day of the year, taken from his writings. The title proves to be a best-seller and we are now into the third edition within a period of six months after the book was first published. The book has been published in the United States (Paulist Press) and Ireland (Columba Press). The Home-page of the magazine, The Sacred Heart Messenger carries the following advertisement:

"The People Wish to See Jesus"
We just released a new title, authored by Pope Francis when he was the Archbishop of Buenos Aires: "The People Wish to See Jesus". The title consists of his lectures to catechists and teachers. The book was originally published in Spanish in Argentina by Editorial Claretiana.
We have published six titles under the series 'Pope Francis Resource Library'. The last two were written by Pope Francis himself, and these two titles are also available in traditional and simplified Chinese - for the benefit of the Chinese Church. Meanwhile the English copies are distributed in Asia, especially Hong Kong, Taiwan, Macau, Singapore, Philippines and India.

Back to School!

On February 24 the Fr. Jijo has entered the language school at the Beijing Normal University's extension campus in Zhuhai to continue studying Mandarin Chinese. After 9 months of study in Taiwan and various adventures to achieve the necessary student visa in mainland China, Jijo  has been admitted to the language school.
Jijo and Alberto at the entrance to the school of languages ​​at the university.

The university, located in the outskirts of the city of Zhuhai  is an ideal location: a huge campus, between mountains and lakes and a student population of 11,000 young people from all over China. In addition to classes, the language program director has put a couple of young people, a boy and a girl who are studying to "teach Chinese as a second language", so that students can practice what you learn. Fr. Jijo will continue in college for at least one year. He is free on weekends to return to the community in Zhuhai and Macao. In this environment ... really 'feel like' studying Chinese!

Listen to him:
It is bit of a curious experience for me to feel like a student again on a large campus with 11000 students. Living in the university dormitory familiarizes one with a lot of things that you do not know. The campus is giving me a lot more than I had hoped for! China has learned to simplify characters!!!!!! And I am learning how! The classes start on some days as early as 8 AM in the morning and end at 8.30 in the evening. Yes.. it keeps me busy.

Testimony of Missionary

He is a Doctor in Theology, holds Masters in teaching English as a second language, a writer, speaks Chinese and of course, a missionary!

He is teaching English in a Chinese university, with about 170 students attending his sessions for more than two years. I want to rage. Most students in this remote campus in central China come from poor families, with great interest in learning and his mission is dedicated to them entirely. It is the testimony of presence he provides them with, through his job well done, lived values, and spreading the joy of the Lord! He motivates them. He follows the the mandate of the Missionary in it's true spirit: "Through all possible means ... to spread the Good News of Christ!"

The university appreciates his job and has recommended his for a special award at the provincial level as "Friend of China" . Bravo!!

 (But, he dose not want his name to appear in my blog! Sorry, I can't tell you who he is!!).

"Sacred Space" - now in Simplified Chinese too

Sacred Space, one of the world’s leading interactive websites for guided prayer, is now available to people in the Peoples Republic of China (PRC). It was previously only available in Chinese characters not used in the PRC and blocked for access to visitors from the PRC.

Launched on April 1 and facilitated by ucanews.com, Sacred Space  is now accessible as a Chinese version in the commonly used script across the country. 
“Sacred Space is much loved around the world,” said Father Michael Kelly SJ, Executive Director of UCAN. “Tens of thousands access the site in 20 languages and it seemed to me a real waste to have this great aid to deepening our engagement with God not available to the growing number of Christians in the PRC.

“What we now have is the prayer content available in a script used in China and available on a URL that isn’t blocked,” Fr. Kelly added. More than half a million visitors a month are led through the Ignatian Examination of Conscience (Examen) with almost 20,000 visitors following the prayerful process on weekdays. The simplified character site joins two other Asian language versions – Korean and Bahasa Indonesia. The service is available in a total of 20 languages.

"Hinds' Feet on High Places"

Church of St. Benedict, Hong Kong has organized a 12-days pilgrimage to South India, with Fr. Jose, Asst. parish priest, leading the group. Although the churches and shrines were so familiar, leading a group to these places gave me a different perspective to our life in faith!

 Before departure at Hong Kong International Airport
"The Lord God is my strength, and he will make my feet like hinds' feet, and he will make me to walk upon mine high places." Habakkuk 3:19

 In Bom Jesus Church, Goa
Many years ago, back in Claretian Seminary in Bangalore, I picked up a book by English author Hannah Hurnard, titled "Hinds' Feet on High Places" written in 1955. Once I look back into the pilgrimage to India that we had undertaken in February 2014, I feel, I was re-living the story of "Hind's Feet on High Places"! It is the story of a young woman named Much Afraid, and her journey away from her Fearing family. She makes her scary and adventurous journey on to the High Places of the Shepherd, guided by her two companions Sorrow and Suffering. It is an allegory of a Christian devotional life from salvation through maturity.
 In the national shrine of "Our Lady of Expectation", Mylapore
When we began thinking about organizing the pilgrimage, the first reaction from most parties was, FEAR! We had concerns with the security and safety of the pilgrims, health issues such as food, drinking water, mosquitoes and what not! There were questions such as, "Shall we carry drinking water along with us"?  The rest is history!
At the tomb of St. Thomas the Apostle
Indeed it was an opportunity for the Hong Kong Catholics to have a first-hand experience of the Church in India, and to have a better understanding of it's rich traditions.

During the course of 12 days in India, we had the opportunity to celebrate the Holy Eucharist in 12 different Churches, and Shrines.
At St. Claret Public School, Vythiri 
 In Mysore, with the King's Palace in the background
Indeed it was an opportunity for the Hong Kong Catholics to have a first-hand experience of the Church in India, its rich traditions and to have a better understanding of the terrain and people of the land. Yet, we were rightly focused on the spirituality and life witness of St. Thomas the Apostle, St. Francis Xavier and St. Alphonsa. Hence, during our three-months intensive preparations, the group gathered together to pray the rosary, the Way of the Cross and for benediction of the Blessed Sacrament. We came up with a theme for our Pilgrimage: From Doubt to Faith – Exploring the Missionary Journey of St. Thomas the Apostle, in India
 In Claretian Seminary, Bangalore
On day six of our Pilgrimage, we had planned to scale the 1269 'Ft above sea level Kurisumudi (Hill of the holy cross) at Malayattoor. It was during our climbing up, I suddenly recalled the story of the book I was referring to in the first paragraph: “Hind’s Feet on High Places”.  I could easily associate myself with “Much Afraid”, the protagonist of the novel. And most of our group members shared similar feelings. If not for the tender, gentle guidance of the Shepherd, we would never make it to the “High Places”.

 Deepika, a Malayalm daily picked up the news of our
visit to the tomb of St. Alphonsa at 
Bharananganam, Kerala
This was indeed an eye-opener for me: this was exactly the mission of the Church today in the pilgrim-life of the people of God. The People of God on this earth are on a pilgrimage to the ‘Mountain of God’. Some are strong and some weak, yet all aspire for the summit. We will be a failure if we fail to take our fellow-pilgrims along with us.
 At the foot of  Malayattor, "Hill of the Holy Cross"
What matters most, is not how fast do we reach the summit, but rather how well do we make it to the top!  Moreover, how boring it would be there on the top, if I were to be all alone, without the company of my friends! I think, all of us shared similar feelings and this was visible when we were back in our coach – we were all tired, yet had the joy of accomplishing something big! Indeed, the ‘Hill of the Holy Cross’ left us with a great lesson, a wonderful message for the rest of our lives! 
During a House Boat trip in Alleppey
We are back home after a few adventurous and beautiful days in India, but our pilgrimage is not yet ended! We are on the go and along the way, we are assured of the two companions to assist us: “Sorrow” and “Suffering”, because they are the most experienced ones to take us through the steep, slippery and very narrow, zig-zagging track that lies ahead! Courage! Move on! 不要怕,只管信!

For more stills and clippings, check the video!

Commitment to the Gospel

Macau has a population of 560,000 inhabitants and 15% are Catholics. But, over 30 million visitors, mostly from mainland China, come to Macau every year.  An  enthusiastic group of young people, together with Fr. Jojo organized a program of songs, dances and 'magic' outdoors, in the most visited tourist area of Macau - at the "Ruins of St. Paul". Needless to say, this way of spreading the Gospel message attracted many curious Chinese visitors:

 3000 bags were distributed with literature
and some goodies to spread the Good News.

 And of course, the expected number: Magician Jojo

Pope Francis and the Chinese Connection!

"Pope Francis is going to live to 140 years," says the Chinese doctor For years, Liu Ming who treated the then Cardinal Bergoglio
Liu Ming - Chinese doctor of Pope Francis
In its October 2013 issue of the magazine TAO (Argentina) features a photo of Cardinal Bergoglio with a Taoist monk on its front cover. A headline explains the photo: “Liu Ming, the Eastern physician of Pope Francis.”  Ming is a 45-year-old Taoist monk who moved from China to Argentina 10 years ago. He took care of Card. Jorge Bergoglio’s health problems for the eight years before he was elected Pope.

The Cardinal used to have many health problems. He was diabetic, had gallbladder surgery and constant problems of the liver. Further, he had lung surgery and serious heart problems. A team of physicians who examined him prescribed a heart surgery as soon as possible. In this critical situation, he heard about the Taoist monk Liu Ming through a priest who was one of his clients. Jorge called Ming and said: “I would like to schedule some medical consultations.” Ming went to see him at the Cathedral and, shortly, the Taoist was going there three times a week. This was in 2004. Gradually, fewer visits were required. At the end of three years, Ming was seeing Bergoglio only every three weeks.

- How was Bergoglio as a patient?

Super-quiet. ! A very spiritual person. For me it was an honor to meet a cardinal who is a person with great nobility, with a high rank but despite all that, did not care what he looked outside but the inside.

- Did he ever make ​​any recommendations to you regarding our culture?

He asked me if I was familiar with San Lorenzo [NOTE: The soccer team!]. I don't even have a television (laughs). Yes, he talked to me about Argentinian beef. Oh! It's not like the beef in China, here you don't even need to add salt. He made another suggestion: the name of my daughter.

- Did Bergoglio give your daughter her name?

Yes. Her name is María Guadalupe.

- Did you have conversations about Eastern philosophy? Was he interested?

Yes, we exchanged books. For example he gave me the "Book of I Ching" in Spanish. I use it to teach courses in Buenos Aires. He gave me the Bible and a book called Reasons to Believe.

- Did you have any kind of disagreements?

No. This world had a religious origin and life cannot exist without religion, otherwise we would be just animals. Since I am a Taoist monk I spoke to him a great deal about the Tao, which in China is the only truth. In your culture, it is called God and in China it is called the Tao. It's the same. It is the same truth.  He listened to me very attentively.

The treatment consisted in sessions of acupuncture and massages following the methods of Taoist medicine. Ming explains: “I always say that with Chinese medicine you can live 140 years. We have two worlds: the external and the internal. Traditional medicine looks at the external but fails to consider that we have the solutions for everything in our own body. And this is the interior world.”
Liu Ming with Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio
The monk applied his Taoist knowledge to Bergoglio, who was cured of his heart problem and all the illnesses he had. He stopped taking all his medicines and today stays healthy by applying what he learned from this monk. Regarding the spectacular cure of Bergoglio’s heart, Ming explains: “It was in 2005, when a new election for pope was coming. The doctors wanted him to have surgery, but he did not want it. By means of my treatment, his blood started to circulate better in the arteries - which were obstructed. All I did was to re-direct the body’s energy. After that, he [Bergoglio] had full confidence in me. His doctors, all proud, became a little resentful except for one lady doctor who came here to learn Chinese medicine with me.”

Ming stated that Pope Francis had telephoned him from the Vatican on September 8, 2013: “Doctor Liu Ming? Doctor Liu Ming? Jorge is speaking. Pope Francis…” Knowing that Ming was planning to travel to China, Francis asked him to stop on the way to see him at the Vatican. And he did!

2014 - "Year of the Gospel" in the parish of Liu Xi Lin

In response to the Apostolic Exhortation of Pope Francis, The Joy of the Gospel, [Evangelii Gaudium ], The parish of Liu Xi Lin of the diocese of Taiyuan, in mainland China has declared the Year 2014 as the "Year of the Gospel". Read, study, transcribe, store, transmit, and live the gospel: these are the objectives that the proposed Year of the Gospel in the parish of Liu Xi Lin and this is an ideal continuation of the Year of Faith. 
 Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception - Diocese of Taiyuan

The parish drafted a framework to celebrate the Year of the Gospel 2014  and has issued the following instructions to the faithful:
  • To read the Gospel every day, in all its forms (individual or community) to have a more complete understanding of Jesus and the faith to believe and to imitate Jesus.
  • To study the Gospel in families, in the parish, in the group ... to learn to be his disciples.
  • To transcribe the Gospel to burn in the minds and hearts.
  • To reflect the Gospel, in order to help the faithful to enter into the life of Jesus to join him.
  • To transmit the Gospel as it is the duty and responsibility of the baptized faithful, for this mission extends to all.
  • To live the Gospel requires believers to put the gospel at the center of their lives,  to become the light of the world and salt of the earth.

Celebrating the Word of God

Just a reminder that we have the new blog, with extensive biblical commentaries to the three Sunday readings, available both in English and Spanish and Chinese:



This is the beautiful work of an Italian Biblical scholar Fr. Fernando Armellini who has given us permission to translate and put publish his reflections online. Those who understand Italian can see a weekly video of about 25 minutes where Fr Armellini explains the gospel of the day: http://scuolapostolica.it/pagina-del-biblista-fernando-armellini/

By the way thank Sr. Paula and Fr. José Márquez Ruíz for the translations of these commentaries into the Spanish.