Monday, April 03, 2017

Welcome to China Bulletin April 2017

The Lord Is Risen Indeed!
Lives again our glorious King, Alleluia!
Where, O death, is now thy sting? Alleluia!
Once He died our souls to save, Alleluia!
Where thy victory, O grave? Alleluia!
A view from our parish in Mui Wo, Hong Kong 

------------------------

Lenten experience in Japan


Japan is a country that has very few Christians.  The recent movie "Silence" can give you an idea of reasons for that situation. 
Father John, a Claretian missionary who is in charge of the Chinese community in Japan has led a group of Chinese Catholics to a spiritual retreat to the mountains, braving the snow to strengthen their faith and encourage one another. Fr. John shares his experiences from Japan: 

The way of the cross, the way of the Lord

It has been some years since the Claretians started accompanying the Chinese Catholic community of Yokohama, Japan. This year, as part of their Lenten observance, the community organized a pilgrimage to one of the highest peaks of the Kanagawa mountain range, Mount Sannoto (三ノ塔).
On March 18, 2017, around 40 members of the Catholic community, including 7 children –the youngest one being just 5 years old, gathered at the base of Mount Sannoto to begin their Lenten pilgrimage. It was 10 o’clock in the morning, and after a short prayer we started our ascent to the top of the mountain; everyone was joyful. After 2 hours walking, half way up the mountain, we began the way of the cross. It was a moment of deep and prayerful experience for many, and everyone took turns carrying the cross. Singing and praying, we reached the top.
There, after a short rest, we celebrated the Eucharist. We felt like Peter, James and John, the three disciples brought by Jesus up the mountain where he was transfigured. Peter wanted to make three tents then; we wanted to make not 3, but 40 tents and remain there; it was so good up there!
After the Mass we shared the food we had brought and enjoyed our lunch together.  We had walked a total of 16.05 km, and it took us 6 hours.
After this journey one lay Catholic confided to me, “Father, you have cured my sickness. I am 50 years old and I had never climbed such a high mountain (1,252 m) until today. I’d always been afraid of heights, but today I felt how the Lord accompanied and brought me up the mountain.” 
In our life we need to disconnect sometimes from our work and our busy schedule and embrace nature, where we meet God effortlessly. Indeed, no one felt tired that day, be they 5 or 50 years old!
Our Christian life is just like climbing a mountain; we go up and then down, but the twisted and bumpy path hides each one’s encounter with God. I think that, as Claretian Missionaries, our mission is to accompany and facilitate such an encounter with God.

---------------------------------

"Silence"

"Scandal of the Cross" was the name of a play in three acts written by  Father Paulson, a Claretian Missionary from India in 1994.  Paulson, then a Claretian Scholastic, wrote the play based on the novel titled "Silence" by the Japanese author Shusaku Endo. The play was staged by the seminarians in Claretian Seminary and I played the role of the Samurai Inoue. That was the first time I have heard about a place called "Macau", because the play opened in the front of St. Paul's Seminary in Macau! 
Issey Ogata as Samurai Inoue in the Movie Silence 
Years have passed and I landed in Macau and Hong Kong. Our missionary work in this part of Asia includes Hong Kong, Macau, China, Taiwan and Japan. The movie "Silence" that is currently in theatres relates to the growth of Christianity in Japan. We invite you to watch.  
The plot is from the second half of the 17th century. Two Portuguese Jesuits travel to Japan in search of a missionary who, after being persecuted and tortured, has renounced his faith. They themselves will go through the torture and violence with which the Japanese received the Christians. The following video is a short review of the movie by Bishop Robert Barrons. 
--------------------------------------

Shangchuan Island - China


This island of China, which is very close to Macao, is now a place of pilgrimage. Fr. Jojo, on the feast of St. Francis Xavier makes an annual pilgrimage to the place. 
This will be the Church dedicated to St. Francis Xavier 
on the island where he died
Over the years, the authorities of the area have taken note of the increasing number of pilgrims tot he site and have decided to rebuild the area, to beautify the Church. As a promotion material, they also shoot a short film about the life of the Saint.
Light, action, Camera is rolling ...

Death of St. Francis Xavier: 
On the evening of Friday, December 2, 1552, Antonio could see that death was approaching, and he decided to keep watch by him throughout the night. The dying priest kept his eyes constantly fixed upon a crucifix which had been put up where he could see it by his companion. It was already past midnight when Antonio saw that the end was near. "I placed a candle in his hand," Antonio later wrote in his report, "and with the name of Jesus in his mouth, he returned his soul into the hands of his Creator and Lord with great calm and tranquility...He died before dawn on Saturday, December 3, 1552, on the island and harbor of Sanchôn, in a straw but that was not his own, ten years after he had come to these regions of India." His last words, as he was dying, were: "In te, Domine, speravi, non confundar in aeternum." (" In Thee, O Lord, have I hoped; let me never be confounded.")
Local actors ... with Fr. Jojo in the middle
The great apostle of the India and Japan, he was 46. He had traveled 120,000 kilometres, three times the earth. He had been stealing hearts for God. 

Whoever looked at his smiling, sympathetic face, which reflected the divine, felt happy and better. When he preached, more than his arguments, he convinced with his holiness and the strength of his miracles.
-----------------------------------

Priestly Vocations in China

We have shared in our previous issues of the blogs about the news of this seminary in China which is flourishing in terms of vocations; yet struggles with  very poor facilities. With a motivation to the test .... Will the day come when Chinese priests will go around the world to preach the Good News?
Our friend, Fr. Huang Yu Tao (centre), Rector of the Seminary with the students in formation
--------------------------------

Pilgrimage to Okinawa 

Cathedral of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (Kainan Church)
In the first week of March, a few pilgrims from Hong Kong made a pilgrimage to Okinawa, approximately 400 miles south of Japan's main islands. The pilgrims visited four Churches in the Diocese of Naha and also made a special trip to Okinawa's Peace Memorial Park. 
The Cornerstone of Peace is built as if to evoke the motion of waves. The names of all those who died in the fighting are inscribed on it, military and civilian alike, without regard to nationality. It stands as a memorial to the war dead and as an expression of hope for peace for their souls. It is also a plea for eternal peace and conveys the spirit of peace that is born of Okinawa’s history and life to the country and to the world.
On dozens of black marble slabs are etched more than 230,000 names of those from every nation that died in Okinawa. We visited the war monuments of Okinawa, including the underground army head-quarters. On June 23, 1945, the deadliest battle in recorded human history ended in Okinawa.
A Documentary on the Battle of Okinawa 

At the suicidal cliff on the shores of Okinawa 
Birthday Celebrations in Okinawa! 

Friday, March 03, 2017

Welcome to China Bulletin - March 2017

A Blessed Season of Lent 


-A time for fast, from ...

Fast from bitterness; turn to forgiveness
Fast from hatred; return good for evil
Fast from negativism; be positive
Fast from complaining; be grateful
Fast from pessimism; be an optimist
Fast from harsh judgments; think kindly thoughts
Fast from worry; trust in Divine Providence
Fast from discouragement; be full of hope
Fast from anger; be more patient
Fast from pettiness; be more mature
Fast from gloom; enjoy the beauty around you
Fast from jealousy; pray for trust
Fast from gossiping; control your thoughts

Fast from sin; turn to virtue

--------------------------------------

The Word continues to become flesh!


The Pastoral Bible Foundation and Claretian Publications have organized a felicitation gathering for its Founder Director, Fr. Alberto Rossa and for Divine De Leon who completed 25 years of her service with the Publications on 12 February in the Chok Van Convention Centre, Colovan, Macau. The concelebrated Eucharistic celebration was presided over by Cardinal Gaudencio Borbon Rosales, the Archbishop Emeritus of the Archdiocese of Manila.
Concelebrating priests and Ms. Divine with Cardinal Gaudencio Borbon Rosales, the Archbishop Emeritus of the Archdiocese of Manila after the Eucharistic Celebration in Macau 
“I know Fr Rossa for the past 38 years”, said Cardinal Rosales during his homily. He recalled the days of Fr. Rossa in Zamboanga in the Philippines as a parish priest. Later, when he shifted his ministry into multimedia and printing ministry, like everyone else, Cardinal too was skeptical. "I miscalculated this man" , he said.  "He was not just tall, but also had a tall vision".  
Vintage stuff!: A relationship of over 38 years...
Cardinal Rosales and Fr. Alberto in Macau
When he brought in big machines to the printing press that marked the growth and development of the Claretian Publications in the Philippines.  Fr. Rossa was instrumental in establishing the Publications in the Philippines 36 years ago to promote a new model of being Church. In order to provide a focused attention to Bible and related material, he later founded the Pastoral Bible Foundation 20 years ago.
Ms Divine flanked by Cardinal Rosales and Fr. Alberto 
On the 25 years of service of Ms Divine with the Publications, the Cardinal said that the tall Rossa and short Divine provided the perfect balance for the growth and development of the publications. 
It's all about the Bible!: The priests' fraternity 
Commenting on the readings of the day, the Cardinal stated that the Lord has given us the greatest gift – our free will and freedom of choice and the capacity to choose life, and to choose what is right. He encouraged the faithful “not to be satisfied with mere ordinary, rather do something more, give something more, seek something more and be something more!
Over 100 friends of Divine and Fr. Rossa from the Philippines, Mainland China, Macau and Hong Kong participated in the Eucharistic celebrations concelebrated by 11 priests.
The delegation from Amity Printing, Nanjing with Cardinal Rosales, Ms. Divine and Fr. Alberto 
During the felicitation gathering, the Claretian Publications and Communications of the Philippines, and Amity Printing Company of Nanjing expressed their gratitude and appreciation to Fr. Rossa for his association with them in his dedicated service to the Word of God for more than three decades. 
Fr. Dennis, CMF the Director of the Claretian Publications presented a plaque to Fr. Rossa and to Divine, acknowledging their contributions to the Ministry of the Word of God.
Mr. Li Chunnong, the former General Manager
of Nanjing Amity Printing Corporation

Mr. Li Chunnong, the former General Manager of Nanjing Amity Printing Corporation traced back his association with Fr. Rossa, which began over 20 years ago. “The Claretians were our first overseas clients and this was a difficult decision to make”, recalled Mr. Li. What we value is not just the business, but much more than that, the friendship and trust that we have developed over the years”, remarked Mr. Li. He acknowledged “the Amity printing gained a lot from its associations with Fr. Rossa as he promoted the company wherever he went – in Frankfurt Book fair and other places. Fr. Rossa and the Claretian Publications have played a role in making Amity Printing the largest Bible printing press in the world today”. Today Amity printing company has over 600 employees of which only three per cent are Christians, has printed over 150 Million Bibles, in 90 different languages distributed all around the world.
Mr. Yu Hong of the Amity Printing presenting the custom made Bible in Spanish to Fr. Alberto 

In the absence of Mr. Luke Liu, the General Manager of the Amity Printing, his representative, Mr. Yu Hong read out his felicitation message. In his message, Mr. Liu wished that the long-standing relationship with Claretian Publications and PBF continued in the future as well. 
Amity Printing prepared two special gifts for Fr. Rossa – Custom-made Copies of the Christian Community Bible in Spanish and English. To understand the enormity of the gift – the whole the printing machinery was put to work just to print one copy of the Bible – just for Fr. Rossa!
Amity Printing printed just two Bibles to gift them to Fr. Alberto 

Fr. Rossa, in his inimitable style of running away from the limelight, began with a question: “Who killed the messenger? Where in the Bible do you find this expression?” This Shakespearean expression (Don’t shoot [kill] the messenger) means that do not punish the messenger for bringing the unpleasant news. His point was that “do not praise the messenger and do not stop with the messenger, instead, praise the message”. “This celebration is not about the people but about the message”, said Fr. Rossa. He thanked everyone who contributed in this shared mission over the past 36 years of Ministry to the Word


Thank you Fr. Alberto for the witness of life for the Church in general and for China in particular! 

------------------------------------

Increase in HK’s Catholic population

A new study has shown that the Catholic population of Hong Kong has grown in recent years. The number of Catholics in Hong Kong has passed the 590,000 mark, an increase of some 5,000 over 2015, the latest statistics released by the Hong Kong Catholic Church Directory 2017 published in January this year indicate.
The latest calculation by the diocese shows that as at August 2016, there were around 591,000 Catholics in Hong Kong. Among them locally baptised Catholics amounted to 389,000.
The diocese estimates there were 166,000 Filipino Catholics in Hong Kong in addition to 36,000 from other nationalities, forming the number of expatriate Catholics to 202000 pushing the total Catholic population to around 591,000.
Meanwhile, the data shows that the number of parishes has fallen from a peak of 62 in 1995 to 51 in 2010, but the number of churches and chapels has increased. The ratio of priests to laity also dropped from one per 500 in 1971 to one per 1,200 in 2010.

A total of 6,633 people were baptised in 2016. In each of the past six years, more than 6,000 people have been baptised. Of the over 6,000 newly-baptised every year, adults account for around 50 per cent. 

But the Church leaders readily admits a note of caution that an increase in the Catholic Population does not necessarily mean an increase in the Sunday church attendance.  Victoria Au Bing-sum, the secretary of the Central Council of Catholic Laity was of the opinion that a strengthening of personal spiritual formation needs to be encouraged and that the catechists must  encourage the catechumens to join parish groups during their catechumenate. 
Father Simon Li Chi-yuen, from St. Benedict’s in Shatin, said the growing number of Catholics is not represented in the growth of the parishioner population. He believes parishes need to strengthen their formation work. Father Li explained that although the number of Catholics has increased every year, the number of priests has remained more or less the same.
Statistics as of August 2016 show there were 288 priests, 469 sisters and 29 deacons serving in the diocese of Hong Kong. There are also 58 brothers, 24 seminarians and 28 novices.

------------------------


HK CEO Candidate drops policy that concerned Hong Kong Catholics 
Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor apologised for any confusion, saying proposal wasn't about controlling religions. The early favourite in the race to become Hong Kong's next chief executive has rescinded a controversial religious policy following strong opposition from Hong Kong Catholics.

The former Chief Secretary of Hong Kong gave up her proposed policy that included the possible set up of a "Religious Affairs Unit" that met objections from Cardinal John Tong of Hong Kong and the diocese because of fears it could introduce a system similar to that in mainland China.

According to a March 3 statement put out by Hong Kong Diocese, the cardinal wrote to Lam "expressing the diocese's resolute opposition of a possible 'setting up of a Religious Affairs Unit' or similar institutions in Hong Kong."

It was feared by many Catholics that Lam's proposed policy was an attempt to introduce the Chinese Communist Party's model of "religious affairs" in Hong Kong.

Lam, a practicing Catholic, told the cardinal on March 3 that the proposal had no intention to control religions and that she was withdrawing her religious policy, which was part of her 47-page election manifesto, reported Hong Kong media. Reports said that Lam apologised for any confusion.

Lam along with John Tsang, the former Financial Secretary and Woo Kwok-hing, a retired judge, are the three candidates for the fifth Chief Executive election to be held on March 26.

According to government statistics, around 30 percent of the 7.37 million people in Hong Kong are believers of different religions. There are 590,000 Chinese and foreign Catholics here, according to latest statistics from Hong Kong Diocese.

--------------------------

Our Publications


"CLARET Publishing Group" - Represents all the publishing houses of Claretians in the world. We are united by the same mission, but each publishing house in different countries acts independently with respect to chose of items for publications. 

Today we rejoice with the Director of Claretian Publications of Madrid, Fr. Fernando Prado who has just published "TEN THINGS THAT POPE FRANCISCO PROPOSE FOR PRIESTS" - a book in the series of "Ten things that Pope asks for ..." . 

Here he is, presenting the works to the Pope:
Fr. Fernando Prado, Director of Claretian Publications of Madrid presenting the books to Pope Francis 

A papal signature! 


A couple of books on the message of Pope Francis to the families: "A Year with Pope Francis and the Family" . It is a book prepared in Macau by Fr Alberto which has been translated into several languages, including Hungarian, the latest:
A book by Fr. Alberto 
"Amoris Laetitia - A Handbook for Families" - The Joy of Love - A Manual for Families. Published by Fr. Jijo Kandamkulathy , Director of Claretian Publications in Macau.
A book by Fr. Jijo Kandamkulathy 
Old Testament translation to modern Chinese: We have already covered half the way ... Just to show the amount of work done, ... here is an example - it is a page of the book of Proverbs of Hebrew and modern Chinese:

More works from Fr. Alberto: 
He has spent hundreds of hours for preparing the scripts and then translating them into both English and Spanish for creating the subtitles for the Bibles study talks given by Fr. Fernando Armellini. A group of friends from China and Hong Kong are contributing their bit in preparing the Chinese Subtitles as well. Here is the QR Code or the links to access the videos for the season of Lent, Holy Week and Easter: 


March 26 - 4 Sunday of Lent 
https://www.youtube.com/watch? V = WeLFGLdHBBs

April 2 - 5 Sunday of Lent 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_TXEJtbumMU

April 9 - Palm Sunday 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q79xpO4TJgY
----------------------------------------

Our Visitors 
Fr. Marcelli Fonts, CMF visited us in Lantau in the last week of January 
Fr. Arnold Abelardo, CMF from the Philippines (in the centre)
with a few of the parishioners of Mui Wo 
Our Friends from Christ the Worker Parish, Ngau Tau Kok together with their Assistant Parish Priest Fr. Yeun in Tai O 

A group of Sunday School teachers from St. Benedict Church, Shatin spent a day of recollection in
Our Lady of Perpetual Help Chapel, in Tai O