Thursday, August 01, 2013

Welcome to the China Bulletin Blog - August 2013

 Remembering CJ

We dedicate this issue of the China Bulletin paying our humble tribute to our beloved Brother Kiko - Gao Guang Qiang, whom we affectionately called "CJ".
CJ was our novice-student in Spain. On Sunday 21 July, he died drowned in the swimming pool of our house in Loja, Spain, where he was getting ready for summer experience in the "Campo de Silencio" activity. According to the vicar of the Betica province, It seems that after lunch he went to swim and most probably had a lose of conscience while swimming.

Bro. Sid, his vocation promoter and formator during his period of postulancy had a chance to meet him on June 9, when the novices passed by Colmenar Viejo in Spain during their pilgrimage to the Claretian places. Then, he asked Bro. Sid to video record a message from him to our guys in formation in the Philippines. So they went to the chapel and did his 10-minute video: The following is the content of the recording, as transcribed by Bro. Sid
Bro. Sid, Fr. Paco and CJ in Macau during the Christmas 2011
"Vocation, it really is a gift from God. If you realize it, please take care of it. And tomorrow I’m going to Vic, and Father Claret, his body is there.... his “sepulcro” is there, and I will pray for all of you in front of him. I mean, really I prayed a lot for our China mission because really we need Chinese. We need Chinese… we are Chinese, who should [be] the one [to] do the mission because…China is full of Chinese, a lot of Chinese…they need the people who are really prepared and have faith in God and to help them….I will pray for all of you. We’ll pray for each other. You also pray for me. Even though we are far away [from] each other, but in the Holy Spirit we are very close. My goodness, so holy, so holy, I’m so holy. I’m all right. Yeah, I mean, take care, and jiayou! Animo!

The following are some of the testimonials from the Claretians and friends of CJ 

Meeting Kiko (CJ)

Carlos Mª Díaz Muñíz, cmf 

It was a brief encounter between us. But even if short in time, it was not a hindrance for its intensity. He, a Chinese novice twenty-something and me, a Spanish Claretian in his eighties at the sunset of life.

What he saw in me is not so important as to what I saw in him. At 27 years of age and in his open face, in his inquisitive glance and in his always hinted smile, I was seeing the future. The great backstage of China and the still larger one of all the countries and people of the Claretian Delegation of South East Asia.

His smiling face projected in my interior very dear remembrances, related to those territories: I made my novitiate with Damian Lü, who was the first Chinese novice if I am not mistaken. Then I lived for some time with Fr. Salvator Alfageme, missionary in Tunky [Huangshan] when he was expelled by the communist and together with Damian they arrived in Betica. I was so lucky to participate in the Spiritual Exercises, an unforgettable experience, with Fr. Foguet, first Apostolic Prefect of that mission. The remembrance and missionary dreams of the martyr Rafael Briega, who realizing that it was impossible to go to China, accepted: “to gladly offer my blood for the China Missions,” were now projected with full poignancy from that eagerly sight of his, Kiko hanging on my words.

All these feelings were added to what Kiko meant for me and what I saw in him: The announcement of the Gospel, following the style of Claret, there where the densest population of the world is, and where Jesus, our Savior, is less known. The future of a Church, neither European nor in the style of Europe, alive and vibrant, the future of that generous sowing began by generous and dedicated Claretians in the middle of last century. Far away from their land, of their families, of their culture and not being able to use their language, without internet, Skype or WatsApp, without air communication that would shorten the months that, through the Suez canal and the Indian Ocean, brought apart East Asia from Spain, those men lived tremendous solitudes.

Kiko also lived deep solitude. So deep that it did not show, and did not dwindle his smile and his joy. His solitude was as deep as deep was his experience of God. And to that God, the God of all, of East and West, North and South, was the one he wanted to announce there where so many speak the language that he could not speak now and where other heroic Claretian Missionaries tried to sow back then the Good News of Jesus.

Smile and joy, joy and smile. “I am here because God wants it” and because God also wanted, he met also his brothers. From the experience of God, to the experience of the family of God. Not only those brothers who were far away physically and religiously, that he contemplates as objectives of his future missionary life; but also these brothers, these, the ones at home, the ones of the East Asian Delegation, the ones of Colmenar Viejo, the ones of Granada. Brothers with whom to share faith and mission; brothers to love and be loved by them; brothers, children of the same Father and of a Mother who is pure Heart.

He found a new family, he found himself “in family” and towards that family he turned with all his generosity, with caring and service. We Spaniards have the impression, and I think it is the correct one, that Oriental people are more delicate, externally showing more respect and appreciation towards others. Kiko had that. But something more too. An “I-don’t-know-what” characteristic and personal. I gather that what was clear for him: being a son of God, son the Heart of Mary, made him cordial. Cordial (from the heart) in a very special way.
And from this cordial familiarity with all the children of God and, very specially, with those who besides are also children of Mary, there was in him, the spirit of service. An always joyful way of serving, attentive and quick. The refectory of a large religious congregation house is a great observatory to see who, with complete naturalness and simplicity, makes of his life a service and those who would rather live to be served. I could observe Kiko, and he was not, in all certainty, one of the latter.

He wanted me to tell him bout my experience, about education in our schools, about the European dimension on education, about the International Congresses of Catholic Education in Bangkok (Thailand) and in Jaipur (India), even though they belong to an ever more distant past. And about the Chines people that I had met.

Time was short, the intensity big. The memories, for ever.

While writing these lines, another memory kept also coming to my mind. That of another Claretian from the Far East, a young man like Kiko, who also died young like him, and also in an unexpected way: the memory of Félix Juaton, from the Philippines, who died in 1981. The young Claretians of the East Asian Delegation and the new vocations have in these brothers a clear reference that will illumine their missionary path today and will enrich them in their experience of the Communion with the Saints.
July 25, 2013
Colmenar Viejo, 26 de julio de 2013
When God gives us a seed, it becomes a leafy tree; when He gives us a key, it is the one that opens the treasure; when He gives is a word, it is always part of the Word.
To us He gave us a simple smile, under slanted eyes of a round and youthful face: Kiko’s. With the smile, a little bit of his time and heart, it was enough to bring to our family the blessing of a missionary who was so even before he was consecrated as such.
Missionary with children, sharing his time and smile in children’s play, to win them over as brothers in a short time. Missionary with my wife and with me, showing his simple heart under the summer stars, to win us over, in a short time, as parents in the far away land where God has sent him. Few conversations and some emails, with simple words in a foreign language, where we became one in the faith of God our Father.
God takes care of every detail of his gifts. And He gifted us a fleeting farewell of Kiko in Colmenar, on his way from Vic to Granada, in ten minutes in which he embraced us, with some tears in the eyes; not knowing that it would be the last, without knowing that they would be the last.
I don’t say good-bye Kiko, but so long; you haven’t gone far. Mother Mary has brought you the Heart of Jesus, where you will be waiting us for the embrace when we will shout in a common language “Glory to God!” Meanwhile, fulfill your vocation as missionary, as the voice before the Father, who is asking for those who do not know Him, as you do know now.
In the Lord
César Funes.
Familia Funes Gabaldón

Sid asked me to write about Kiko, I am going to try it, but a doubt if I can express in words all that we have lived and shared. I remember the day I first met him when I went to pick up him and Paco at Barajas airport.

Those first days spent in our home I already noticed your great qualities as a person, as a missionary. It called my attention your simplicity and naturalness in the way you embraced our behaviors as a missionary with a strong vocation can only do it: with joy and with the desire to know more.

I can only remember you as a great missionary, never loosing your smile, overflowing with goodness and amiability. Since the time you arrived, you entered my heart and the heart of the Carin family. Your humility made it appear as everything was easy and you adapted to our way of living very fast. Always available, always smiling—that i show I remember you. I am happy to have shared with you some Christmas, I am happy that you experienced that with us and I rejoice also because thanks to you I started going to Midnight Christmas Mass after many, many years. You were already evangelizing without you knowing it.

We have enjoyed concerts, soccer games, appetizers, shared food with the family and friends, but you were also present when I needed you, when my family and I were in need—you were there with your smile, your goodness, your support. I remember the joy you had when you were sharing about what you were learning, about your vocation, about how you were feeling. I remember our last conversation one week before you left us, “we shall meet in Colmenar on September 14. Because a special connection with you, because since I met you I considered you a brother, because for two years we understood each other well and you have taken care of me when I needed it.

You have been a brother for me, a confidant, example,… you entered my life burning, you left a mark. But neither life nor death will separate me from you, because you will always stay with me, in my heart, in each smile that will come from my lips, in my actions and always your joy and jokes will become part of me.

 - Cuca Carolina


Bucken, England
25 July 2013

In the middle of this lonely night, this is a humble letter to Kiko, a very few words that I could write for him.
Dear Kiko,

I do not quite well know how to start... Those closest to you ask me to write a few lines about you. And I am trying. But the white paper before me burns my hands… I would like it—my heart knows quite well—to remain forever silent. Silence of incomprehension and of respect. Of defiance and of acceptance. Silence broken and poignant. Silence wounded,  wearied by absence, gropingly searching for God. I would want to remain silent contemplating your death. And, once again call you, in silence, “brother”…

So, Kiko, do not hold these awkward, meager and distressing lines against me, but make me a space by your side, in silence, you who already live, sheathed in the Word, wholly ablaze… And forgive me if I do not know how to express the little I know of your soul, or if I am unable to say it with adequate love. After all, I first met you in the middle of the night, at times so opaque, in the quite faint light of a cigarette, or a cluster of stars. If you could see this night… If you could see how full the moon there on high… Yellow and round. Oh, blessed clarity…
There were not many nights. And all routine. More than once on a rainy night, in some stairway rusty and cold… Do you remember the icy wind there that Christmas eve? Other times up on the roof, sipping the first warmth of spring. In the garden a few nights in summer. One night in the car, on the way back to Colmenar, and having dinner late and almost bursting out laughing. And four or five nights more in some room. There were not many nights. And they shall never come again.
We talked about life with hearts open and feet unshod. With no prepared dialogue, with no pretense, with little Spanish, with no care at all, with no fear of hurting ourselves, at times with trembling… Solitude as companion. Remembrances of childhood. Loves that are gone, or that never came. Great poverty within. A couple of great dreams. Some guilt entangled within for not being able to forgive, to love unconditionally. Missionary brothers whom we love so much. A cross painted on some trousers. Fear always on the prowl. The embrace. Solitude once again. Unable to understand why so much suffering. Grateful for being alive. Laughter thrown to the wind, oblivious of any concern. Some tears perhaps we could not have foreseen. Our story with God. The love of a mother. And her suffering. This daily life at times too heavy. A mischievous smile under the glasses. Joy, after all, for having met and for sharing the same path… And from the Love of God.
If only you could see this night, the moon so round… I try to remember you, to search for other words, something more eloquent, something that could be of service to others… But obstinate silence comes back to the heart. You will have to forgive me if I know not what more to say, if I do not set to talk about your qualities, nor bring up your missionary dreams, your gift of relating to people, the China that you were hoping for, your zest for life… I can only remember the nights, memory of the gestures. The daytime and the words perhaps others will bring up. Perhaps they will come with Him. I put forward what I can, the little I scratch to this silence. You see, it is nothing great, but it has made us brothers...

Now, allow me, I rest left with no strength in this strange night when I am writing to you, that steals the tears from me and dries them as well… Truly, we do not know neither the day nor the hour. Neither the way nor the place. Nor how to gasp for breath in the midst of death, nor how to respond… Now that I am alone and alone in the silence, now… I only ask for faith. The simple and strong faith, humble and entrusting. The faith that only those who knew how to love have. Faith that Love does not end with death. Faith that the waters cannot engulf. Faith that God is Love and faith that He does not abandon us, does not abandon us… That you are better now, though I cannot see it. That in the embrace of God you remember us and pray for us…

I remain in silence in this night of ours, terrible and beautiful, night of full moon, of fresh air, of wounded heart… This night that you dwell with so many for ever and that, God knows why, seems brightening up… Where I will come back to search for you when nothing makes sense, when I miss you… Where I hope to find you. To find Him. Night and silence… Slowly I sob an Our Father, waiting for the dawn, brother, companion…


Adrián de Prado Postigo, cmf 

The Following write-up is provided by Bro. Sid Ching upon learning the sudden demise of his beloved student: 

For the six years that CJ had been part of my life since 2007, it was his zest for life that impressed me the most. He was an ordinary young man, unmolded by the seminary structure, without any pietistic pretense, or religious affectation. I was surprised to hear him say every time he met a new Claretian that So-and-so was the nth Claretian he had met, and that so far, every Claretian was unique and different. This thought made him excited to be a Claretian someday.

He was far from being pious since he would fall asleep after only a few minutes of silence during our community meditation, and after some more minutes, he would snore his way peacefully into the interior castle of the blessed. He also enjoyed eating, which motivated him to learn how to cook. Whenever we tasted some new dishes on the few occasions that our community of three went out to eat, he would try to cook the same the next day, which he did even better than the original. For him, a good meal strengthens the bond of community, so he would prepare a hotpot or a dumpling dinner on special occasions, like the visit of Marcelino to our community, or on Claretian feasts.

He was the best in his middle school, but instead of being arrogant and show off his intellectual superiority, he was unassuming and open to learn new things. In his journal, he usually referred to himself as foolish. He had always been conscientious in doing his work, faithfully writing his daily journal as his English composition assignment, and rewriting them after my corrections.
As an English teacher, I paid more attention to the grammatical and sentence structures of his journal reflections. But when I read them now, I see that in their simplicity, they show a certain spiritual depth. His limited knowledge of English words did not restrain him from expressing his soul. I was surprised to read that eighteen days before his 15-day detention and torture, he had dreamed that he was arrested, and he even wrote that he hoped for it to happen. Then, 5 days before his detention, he felt so confused for no reason at all.

I do not know Chinese, so in our dialogues, he had to grope for words to express himself in English. There was one time that he felt so much without words, so incapable of expressing himself in English, that he could only say that he had so much he wanted to tell me, but could not. Yet this did not discourage him from learning English more, so that after a year, our whole community—he, Paco and I— enjoyed watching the weekly episodes of “The Big Bang Theory” without any subtitles!

His hard work paid off, which also brought a great temptation to him on the weeks before his departure for Spain to continue his formation. He helped in the Couples for Christ (CFC) in Beijing as a translator from English into Chinese. One of the Chinese CFC members offered him a job to work as a translator in her company for RMB20,000 a month. I advised him not to flatly refuse the offer, but to take it as an occasion for further discernment. After a few days of personal prayer, he told the woman that he had to follow his vocation.

So he went to Spain in 2011 for the World Youth Day, and for his “third” postulancy. I say “third” because he had begun his postulancy in the Philippines, which he had to continue with me in China and also in the Philippines and back to China again, and with Paco during the second quarter of 2011. But as he would have to learn Spanish for a year for his novitiate in Spain, that year became another year of postulancy for him. He would again experience the inability to express himself, this time, in Spanish.

After a few months, he started sending me emails in Spanish and English, and as the days passed, the English words began to lessen until he wrote only in Spanish with his Chinese pinyin spelling. I was with him during the Holy Week of 2013 as he and the other novices participated in a popular mission of the Claretian Family in a village south of Spain. Again, I was surprised at his ability in using the language to reach out to people, to express himself, and even to make them laugh.

On July 21, the Exterminating Angel came and cut short CJ’s melody, he being a first born son. What did the Author of Life want to say with the crooked lines he had written? I have to accept that I do not understand; I am unable to read the notes God had written. I now see CJ’s life and death as one movement of a great symphony. The music is beautiful, but the notes unlike words are not intelligible in themselves, instead they form a harmony as a whole. The music seemed to have stopped with CJ’s passing away, but it was only a caesura in God’s symphony of life.
[Click on the photos to have better image to read the content]


 - Sid Ching, CMF
Sri Lanka

Adieu dear CJ ...

May the soul of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God
Rest In Peace.    Amen!