Saturday, December 01, 2007

Chinese Catholics Prepare for Scripture Synod

Participants in a worldwide meeting for Chinese Catholics on the Bible expressed a commitment to deepen their spiritual life and witness to the word of God in preparation for the next world Synod of Bishops.

Delegates made these commitments at the Hong Kong-based United Chinese Catholic Biblical Association conference in Macau last Nov. 1-5. The conference was titled "Experiences of Community Building with the Word of God."

Over 110 Chinese-speaking participants from more than 15 countries took part in the Macau meeting, and decided to coordinate their pastoral initiatives with the universal Church, specifically the Pauline Year from June 2008-2009, and the October Synod of Bishops on Scripture, reported a Nov. 12 statement.

Participants also decided to make better use of technology and mass media to popularize Bible reading and share resources by setting up a fund for countries with limited resources.
Claretian Fr. Peter Chao presented to the group the new edition of the Chinese Pastoral Bible (in preparation) and the Chinese Daily Gospel 2008, and the bishop of Macau gave a copy of it to each participant.

Meeting in our Macau office with some Chinese friends who attended the bible meeting.

From left: Bro. SC, Fr. Peter Chao, Fr. Joseph Zheng Wenzi, Fr. Alberto Rossa, Bro. John Mi Shen and Fr. John Shi.

Chinese printers celebrate 50 millionth Bible

On 8 December, a celebration will be held in Nanjing, China, to celebrate the printing of the 50 millionth Bible at the Amity Printing Company (APC), which was printed on 11 September this year.Ten years after the Cultural Revolution, Amity Press was established in Nanjing and its first Bible was printed in 1987. Since then over 50 million Bibles have been printed there. Forty-two million of these were distributed in mainland China, while the remaining eight million were exported to over 60 different countries. "What has happened to the Bible in China is a miracle," said the United Bible Society China Partnership Coordinator, Kua Wee Send."Just over 40 years ago, during the Cultural Revolution, the Bible was banned and all copies were confiscated. But today there are more Bibles than any other book in China — it is unofficially the best-selling book there."Only God can make a thing like that happen, because God works through the Chinese authorities, through the Church in China, through the Bible Societies and through each and every donor."China is believed to have one of the fastest growing Christian populations in the world. Officially there are thought to be around 22 million Christians in China, unofficially the number could be as much as four times higher.According to APD Switzerland, a recent survey of 4,500 people conducted by the East China Normal University in Shanghai, suggested that 31.4 per cent of Chinese people over the age of 16 would consider themselves religious. Of those professing to be religious, around 12 per cent were Christian.

From China to the WORLD!

Amity Press is building a new facility in Nanjing
and projects production of more than 10 million
copies per year starting in 2008.

The Pastoral Bible Foundation started printing bibles and other books with Amity 10 years ago. This year alone they have printed for us more than 700,000 books that went all over the world.


Editorial and publishing work is the main ministry of the Pastoral Bible Foundation (PBF) in China and for the rest of the world. We publish bibles and bible related books. When our job is finished, the “life” of the book begins. We feel like the sower – “results” will be in God’s hands.
Today we share a recent email from Fr. John Wilson, from the Diocese of Leeds, England:

"I am delighted to say that the copies of the Acts of the Apostles/Ephesians arrived into England last Saturday. Our courier managed to get them quickly through customs and loading and they reached Leeds on Wednesday. Our distribution company has been busy delivering them and we hope that all the parishes will have them for the First Sunday of Advent.

"The copies are excellent and the large print versions are particularly appreciated. I am, once again, so thankful to you and your staff to providing us with such outstanding service. Thank you so very much and be sure of our prayers and very best wishes for your ministry.

"You are supporting our diocesan efforts for renewal and evangelisation in such a fantastic way. I hope that we will have the opportunity to collaborate together again in the future."

We printed 50,000 copies of this booklet for the Diocese of Leeds

Cantonese anyone?

With joy we share the news that Fr. Jojo successfully finished his first term of Cantonese studies at the Hong Kong Yale University. On Friday November 30th he passed his oral exam and is now enjoying one month brake. Since the study of this language is very difficult and the course very intense, the university holds classes for three months and then gives one month brake. While in the parish of Christ the Worker in Hong Kong, Fr. Jojo entertains participants with a magic show. Jojo is an expert “magician”!

Claretian Publications Hong Kong

With the help of Fr. Jojo, Claretian Publications
is making a splash in Hong Kong

Our visitors

With Bro. John Mi Shen, one of our Chinese editors; and Fr. Joseph Zhang Wenzi, soon to finish his doctoral biblical studies at the Catholic University of America, USA.

SIMBAHAY: sunday gospel reflections

Perhaps you already know about our Liturgy Alive page at -- if not, you are cordially invited to take a look at it. It has special prayers and reflections about the liturgical readings for every day of the year. You can also access it in Spanish:

To facilitate the reading we have opened a blog: “Simbahay: Sunday Gospel Reflections” – at: You will find useful commentaries on the Sunday readings for your personal meditation and/or sharing.

Send us your feedback, ok?

‘Saved by Hope’

Today’s quote:

Eternal life…: “It would be like plunging into the ocean of infinite love,” the pope writes, “a moment in which time – the before and after – no longer exists.”

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

October 1 – Vacation Time in China

There are three occasions in the year when workers get one week vacation in China. The first is during the Spring Festival, the Chinese New Year: the biggest and most celebrated festival in China and parts of east and southeast Asia. It usually falls in February. The second is the first week of May: International Labor Day, and the third is on October 1: National Day, the anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949. Workers in China get one week off three times a year and more than 300 million people travel within China on these occasions.

Do you know why 9/9 is old folk’s day for the Chinese?

Chongyang – Double Nine Festival

Our good friend, Fr. Michael Saso,
a prolific author of books about Asian culture,
explains it to us:
“In China and most of Asia, old folk's day is the Double-Nine festival
on the 9th day of the 9th lunar month…
The 9/9 festival celebrates the ageing; the ‘flowers that bloom in autumn.’
This festival has been observed since the beginning
of Imperial China (around 200 to 0 BC).”
This year it was celebrated on October 19.

Claretian Editors Meeting

The first week of October a group of Claretian editors gathered in Poland. We were representatives from Spain, Brazil, Argentina, India, Sri Lanka, Poland, United States, Russia, the Philippines and Rome and we spent 4 days sharing, evaluating and projecting our work as publishers.

The Biggest Book Fair in the World

The Frankfurt Book Fair is the world’s largest trade fair for books, held annually in mid-October in Frankfurt am Main, Germany.

Representatives from book publishing and multimedia companies from all over the world come to the Frankfurt Book Fair in order to negotiate international publishing rights and licensing fees. The fair takes place every October. It is claimed to be the biggest in the world, and for five days more than 7,000 exhibitors from over 100 countries and more than 286,000 visitors take part.

Claretian editors have been participating in this important fair for the last 23 years. It is an excellent opportunity to buy and sell rights and be in personal contact with our publishing partners abroad.

Books for seminaries in China

Books for seminaries in China International publishers generously offered their books for seminary libraries in China. There are 12 major seminaries in China, and they greatly need good books. Since many Chinese priests and seminarians can read English, some publishing houses are donating their books for the formation of evangelizers in China. A very concrete sign of “shared mission.” Thanks to the Liturgical Press, Liturgy Training Publications, Paulist Press, St. Anthony Messenger Press and Augsburg-Fortress.

Back to the Beginning

I am now in Macau until November 18 since I do not teach at the National Seminary in Beijing for 5 weeks to give way to our visiting teachers from October 15 to November 20. I also make use of this time to observe English classes at the Inter-University Institute of Macau as part of my MATESOL. It feels good to be back to my adopted hometown and to be with my Claretian brothers here.

A Filipino charismatic community invited me to attend their prayer meeting last Saturday evening (October 27). Most of them work until 9 pm or even beyond, especially those who have to go from one part-time job to another, so they come to the “house church” for their prayer meeting after 10 pm. While waiting, those who come early pray the rosary. The prayer meeting begins at 10:30 pm with praise songs followed by contrition, thanksgiving, gospel reading, sharing, supplication and concluding prayer and song. The prayer meeting finishes at around midnight, when they serve some food as midnight snack, just like the “nochebuena” on Christmas eve.

Being with the Filipinos, who gather to pray until late at night every Saturday, brought me back to the beginning of our mission in Macau when Fr. Arnold Aberlardo and Br. Rey Alcantara first came here in May 1993. As the Filipinos work the whole day and even at night, the only time to meet them is after their work. So Arnold and Rey then formed prayer communities where the Filipinos could come and gather to pray together and share their faith experiences until early morning. It was like back to the time of the first Christian communities. Rey and I continued this work during the time we were in Macau from 1993 to 2004. We accompanied the Filipino migrant workers here, as we ourselves worked full time and prayed with them at night.

So that night I came home at 1 am, sleepy but inspired by the devotion of these overseas Filipino workers who pray, sing and dance to God while the world spends the night watching TV, playing mahjong, or singing karaoke, or simply enjoying a good night’s rest.

Fr. Jojo Ancheril shares his experience in Macau and Hong Kong

A Macau Challenge…

Hundreds of thousands flock to the casinos but only very few go to the charitable institutions in Macau. If we are to experience the beauty of Macau we also need to visit our less fortunate brothers and sisters here, who are psychologically and physically challenged. What is my attitude to them and do I have time to be with them? Or am I too busy with the world around me? These are some of the questions I asked myself when Fr. Peter and I visited some charitable institutions in Macau.

and the Cantonese Challenge

When the Superior General appointed me to Macau he wrote to me, “The first and most important thing is to respect and love the people to whom you have been sent: appreciate their culture, learn their language, and share their joys and struggles.” With this in mind I began to learn Cantonese at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. The language study in the Chinese University is something unique. We are 20 students from 13 countries and with different cultural backgrounds. It gives us ample opportunity to learn not only this different language, but also the culture and way of life of the Cantonese Chinese. It is really an enriching experience even as it helps us to be open to other culture and people.

Cantonese is quite difficult to learn, but also very interesting. We had a practical learning experience near a market this first week of October. We were divided into five groups and were asked to buy fruits worth US$3.00. Some of us spoke in Cantonese well and bought some fruits. Some were not precise with their pronunciation and tones, and were chased away from the shops. This experience taught us how important the pronunciation and tones in Cantonese are, which vary the meanings of the words.

Fr. Jojo started celebrating Mass in Cantonese on Claretian Mission Sunday, October 28, 2007. Congratulations, Jojo!

Meanwhile our veteran Fr. Peter Chao is attending a Chinese parish in Macau and celebrating the Mass in Mandarin… like a mustard seed we do our small part in building the Kingdom. And we can say that our community now covers Macau, Zhuhai (China) and Hong Kong.

Book Launching

The Chinese Daily Gospel 2008 was formally launched in Macau on October 28. A group of 23 Catholics from Macau wrote some commentaries for the daily Gospel reading; other groups from Taiwan, Hong Kong and Mainland China also contributed. This is really a book “from the people and for the people.”

A people in search of their parish church

The city is Tieli, in the northeast of China, near the border with Russia. A group of Christians helped by Claretian Missionaries from Korea started building a church for the Christian community there. Well, as you see in the pictures: there are many Christians and they need help to finish their place of worship. The Claretian Mission Procure is looking for financial assistance…

Can you help?

Our Visitors

Two priests from Mainland – Fr. Dah-Niann Jou, and Fr. Shao-guang Cai and a Catholic lay leader – Ms. Wu from Zhuhai visited us. We are looking for ways to collaborate with them.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

September Newsletter

Welcome, once again, to our monthly newsletter from Macau and China.

Mid-Autumn Moon Festival

The Mid-Autumn Festival, also known as the Moon Festival, is a popular East Asian celebration of abundance and togetherness, dating back over 3,000 years to China's Zhou Dynasty.

The Mid-Autumn Festival falls on the 15th day of the 8th lunar month of the Chinese calendar (usually around mid- or late-September in the Gregorian calendar), a date that parallels the Autumn Equinox of the solar calendar. This is the ideal time, when the moon is at its fullest and brightest, to celebrate the abundance of the summer's harvest. The traditional food of this festival is the mooncake, of which there are many different varieties. This year it fell on September 26.

The Mid-Autumn Festival is one of the two most important holidays in the Chinese calendar (the other being the Chinese Lunar New Year), and is a legal holiday in several countries. Farmers celebrate the end of the summer harvesting season on this date. Traditionally, on this day, Chinese family members and friends will gather to admire the bright mid-autumn harvest moon, and eat mooncakes and pomeloes together.

Vatican approves Chinese government choice for bishop of Beijing

The selection of the Reverend Joseph Li Shan, who has been installed as the Roman Catholic bishop of Beijing on Friday, September 21, was no surprise to those who closely follow religious affairs in China. Li, 42, who rose steadily through a Chinese Catholic clergy that was far reduced by the Cultural Revolution and was slowly rebuilt as the Chinese government relaxed its attitude toward officially recognized organized religions, has been in the wings for some time.

Many voices could be heard saying that the discreet way the appointment has been handled and, above all, the avoidance of any open dispute bodes well for future relations between China and the Vatican.

Joseph Li Shan's appointment is expected to ease the tension between the Vatican and the Chinese government.

We highly recommend an excellent article by John Allen entitled: The uphill journey of Catholicism in China (

More Missionary Adventures

Fr. Peter Chao keeps busy with seminars and talks in China. Accompanying him is veteran Jesuit missionary Fr. Jess Breña. Missionaries do not retire: our friend Fr. Breña is 77 years old… and still at service for the church in China in these very remote and poor places. The work is hard, many usual facilities are not existent, yet the desire to hear the Good News of these young people is worth any sacrifice.

Here you have several pictures from his latest seminars.

Fr. Paco Carin shares his latest experience in China. He speaks Chinese fluently.

Qingzhou: Knowing the Church of Our Ancestors

From September 12 to 22nd. I was in Qinzhou, a small diocese in the Shandong Province. I gave a short course about the History of Early Christian Communities. Slowly we studied how starting from Jesus and his announcement of the Kingdom of God in Palestine a group of followers, men and women, started the odyssey of taking the Christian message to the ends of the known world.

The religious sisters were captivated by this odyssey even if it was quite difficult for them to understand categories so distant in time and culture as “person”, “nature”, “essence”…

What we all came to acknowledge is that the Church is a “common good” belonging to all Christians. All are Church and the Church embraces all. Soon we shall continue with the history of the Medieval Church, no less attractive and complicated than that of the first Christian communities: 1000 years of history often times easily forgotten… but nevertheless full of the Holy Spirit who refuses to be absent.

Fr. Jojo at Maryknoll Parish in Hong Kong

In the picture, Fr. Jojo gives a copy of Bible Diary 2008 to Fr. Thomas Peyton, the Maryknoll Parish Priest of Christ the Worker Parish. Fr. Jojo commutes daily to the Chinese University for his Cantonese classes… he is doing great progress in this difficult language.

Fr. Thomas – we have learned – has been an avid distributor of our Chinese Pastoral Bible and is anxiously waiting for the new edition.

Finally out of the press: The Chinese Daily Gospel

Claretian in Taiwan Joins Publishing

Fr. Arturo Morales and Mrs. Lucia Wu came to Macau to organize the distribution of Claretian books, especially titles related to the Bible and Chinese publications. Three Claretian titles have already been printed in Taiwan: Daily Gospel 2008 in Chinese, OFW Prayerbook International Edition; and Migrante Preyerbuk. The last two titles are intended for Filipinos living in Taiwan and the rest of the world.

Mrs. Wu will also help in the Chinese editorial department. Two important projects are being edited at the moment: the Chinese version of the Concise Bible and a new revised edition of the Pastoral Bible in traditional characters. A work that has been in the making for the last two years, which we expect to complete in 2008.

Highly Professional Lay Apostles

Teresa Cheuk, is the virtual officer manager of The Excecutive Centre in Hong Kong
( Together with a group of professional young people in Hong Kong they have created and published several books to help children and their parents to understand, live and give witness to their Catholic faith.

Teresa came to Macau and offered us their publications for adaptation and distribution in Mainland China… free of charge: 365 stories from the Old and New Testament for children and their parents. We share in the same goal: the formation of evangelizers and bringing the Good News to the Chinese people.

We look forward to a great collaboration with Teresa’s friends.

A Unique Guest

Mikael Chen-ho Chao is a university professor in USA. He came to Macau to visit his father. A very natural event… But it so happens that Mike’s father is Fr. Peter Chao!

OK! Fr. Peter is a widower. He has three children, all married: two daughters and Mike, his youngest. Fr. Peter entered the Claretian Congregation in Taiwan, several years after his wife had passed away. Last October 2006, he was ordained priest and is now part of our community in Macau. And, by the way, except for a few days in Macau, Fr. Peter spends his time, talent and treasure… his entire LIFE at the service of the Chinese Christians. As of this writing he is somewhere in the continent… a true evangelizer!

Our community was very pleased and honored to have Mikael for a few hours with us.

Licentiate in Christian Studies – Theological Education in Macau

The Seminary of San José in Macau is a short distance from our house, at the center of the city. This old seminary has been without seminarians for many decades. Now it lives again: September 24, Monday, marked a very significant day for the seminary since it started the Saint Joseph Center for Christian Studies and the School of Christian Studies. It is the first time in 35 years that formal classes are now taught in philosophy and theology as part of programs of study, including the program in preparation for priestly ordination.

Father Dennis Rochford MSC, Dean, School of Christian Studies has this to say:

“There was a real need for a theology course with an English language medium to meet the needs of students, not only from China, but from the surrounding region, mainly for religious communities but also for diocesan priests, seminary candidates and lay people. This course is unique in that it is approved by the government of Macau and, therefore, by China and, through the Catholic University of Portugal, by the Holy See, through the Congregation for Catholic Education. It is thus an approved full course of studies in theology with civil and ecclesiastical approval that is invited and welcomed by the Catholic University of Portugal, the IIUM and the Macau and Beijing authorities.”

Fr. Peter Chao, a PhD in Pastoral Theology, is one of the professors at the Center.

For more information click on IIUM - Christian Studies website

We shall meet again in October -- Till then!

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

August Bulletin

Perhaps the news you hear these days about Macau have little to do with our work as missionaries… This is what the International Herald Tribune says on August 27:

The Venetian Macau. “Unbelievable? Believe it! "
– as the saying goes.

The $2.4 billion Venetian Macao Resort, scheduled to open here Tuesday, can easily give Vegas a run for its money. It has more floor space than four Empire State Buildings. The slot machines, baccarat tables and other games of chance sprawl across a casino more than three times the size of the largest in Las Vegas, making it easily the world's biggest. The 15,000-seat sports arena nearly rivals Madison Square Garden, the convention center has a 6,000-seat banquet hall and the luxury shopping mall has three indoor canals with singing gondoliers; the Venetian in Vegas has just one.

But what is most surprising about the 3,000-suite project is that it is just the first of 14 interconnected hotels being built here by Las Vegas Sands. When completed, the complex will include a St. Regis, a Shangri-La, a Raffles, a Conrad, an InterContinental and a Sheraton, each with its own casino, bars and restaurants. And the project, which will cost from $10 billion to $12 billion, is just the largest of a series of giant gambling complexes being constructed here in Macao, on the southwestern lip of the mouth of the Pearl River.

And now “back to reality”!
Some news about our mission work:

China Mission Procure

A group of missionaries gathered in Taipei, Taiwan, in late August, to organize the China Mission Procure.

Main objectives:

a To animate mission awareness and availability to encourage prayer for the missions offering information about them;
a To animate and involve the Christian communities in our missionary endeavors,
a To be a link between the communities and the missions, to help prepare laity to collaborate in our mission territories.
a To promote economic help through the creation of funds and the presentation of projects.

So, friends, all of you who read this monthly newsletter are already our partner in mission. Ours is a “shared mission for the formation of evangelizers in China”.

You are already “aware” of our missionary activities. Be also part of our mission with your financial help. We need you. We count on you!

You can send your contribution to:

Claretian Missionaries
P. O. Box 1608
Macau, China

It’s that simple!

Lay Claretian General Assembly

More than 50 representatives from 14 countries gathered in Guatemala recently for the 7th Lay Claretian General Assembly. They shared ideas and experiences about their identity, formation, economy and sharing of goods, justice, peace and integrity of creation, shared mission and an evaluation of the movement of lay Claretians. The final document was about the Spirituality of the Lay Claretian.

Two of the participants were sent by our mission from Macau/China: Lelita Salvador and Divine de Leon.

You can visit their site (in spanish) -

Cantonese Formal Studies of Fr. Jojo at the Chinese University

The Chinese University in Hong Kong
New Asia – Yale-in-China Chinese Language Center

Fr. Jojo has been attending some informal Cantonese classes while waiting for the normal course to start. The time is now. Cantonese is not an easy language. It has 7 “very distinctive” tones – so they say! – therefore mastering this language requires the best possible teachers and environment. And the Chinese University is the best. Fr. Jojo is determined to learn it well. Go for it!

Itinerant work…

We are very pleased to share with you that our missionary work, especially for the formation of lay evangelizers, has been quite active during this summer month of August.

Fr. Peter Chao, with a PhD in Pastoral Theology, was invited by Fu Jen Catholic University in Taipei to give some seminars. You might be interested to know that Fu Jen Catholic University is a comprehensive university founded by the Holy See. Starting from 2003, the University comprises 9 colleges (Liberal Arts, Arts, Foreign Languages, Science and Engineering, Human Ecology, Law, Social Sciences, Management, Medicine), 45 departments, offering 42 master programs, and 11 Ph.D. programs. The University has established sister-schools with more than 100 renowned universities world-wide and is committed to holistic education. The University strives to provide students with a diversified, whole-person, interdisciplinary, and international learning environment.
- - - - - - -

The next stop of our Chinese missionary was in Handan, Hebei Province, to share with pastoral agents:

Hebei Province

Handan dates from at least the 6th century BC. It was the capital of the state of Chao (386-228 BC) and was rebuilt on a site to the northeast during Han times (206 BC-AD 220). It remained a small regional center, with fewer than 100,000 inhabitants, until systematically developed as an industrial city in the 1950s.
The population, as of 2004, was estimated at 1,390,000.
- - - - - - -
Next stop was Anhui Province at Jingxian Diocese for more sharing with pastoral agents.

Half Way Around the World: From Beijing to Vermont and Back

After a 23-hour travel from our house in Shangdi, Beijing, to Burlington, Vermont, via Chicago, I arrived at St. Michael’s College ( on June 21 for the 6-week summer course in MA TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages).

Being in Vermont where the surrounding is green and the air clean made me feel quite different after having been used to the pollution and dust and noise in Beijing, not to mention my being a student again. I took an online course last spring, so this time I met my Greek and US classmates and German teacher in person. There were also Greek, Korean, Taiwanese and Middle Eastern teachers for MATESOL and Diploma program. Many Japanese and Korean students and a number of Colombians were also at SMC for the intensive English course.

I really needed some time to get adjusted to the life of a student, with nothing to do but eat, go to class, and study, while also adjusting to the 12-hour time difference, where having lunch felt more like having a midnight snack. I also met the priests of the Society of St. Edmund’s, a French congregation that owns and manages SMC. The SSE priests had been very hospitable in welcoming me to their community and to their daily mass in the morning, and being with them somehow made me feel that I was not alone even as I was missing living in a Claretian community.

The six weeks that followed had been quite intensive, but I was fortunate to have studied with two great professors, and a very supportive Practicum instructor. Many of my classmates, who themselves were professional teachers, had been complaining about our workload, which for me was quite reasonable, given the time constraint a six-week summer. I also felt bored and homesick for Beijing at times, but I had to go on studying for our ministry in China.
The summer course ended on August 4 and, finally, I returned to Beijing on August 6.