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!