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By John Wang Zongshe
John and Joseph Li Jiangan are the first seminarians from China to join the Columbans. After a year studying English in Manila they have just begun their spiritual formation year in Cubao, Quezon City. They told their vocation stories in our May-June issue.
John Wang on a carabao
‘Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age’ (Matthew 28:19-20, RSV CE). Inspired by this passage, missionaries have been trying to evangelize people in foreign countries. Through two thousand years of effort, people in most countries have heard about Jesus and some have believed in Him.
By Joseph Li Jiangang
My village of 800 residents is one hundred percent Catholic. It is in Shaanxi Province, 16 hours by train southwest of Beijing. My Christian name was chosen by our parish priest when he baptized me. As a young boy I always went to church with my grandmother even though I did not really like to. I preferred to be playing with my friends. On one occasion, during my primary school years, I went to see an open-air movie at Mass time.
The Franciscan Missionaries of Mary worked in our village and ran a medical clinic. In junior high school, one Sister got us together for religious education during our summer holidays, and at the age of eleven I began to know more about God. I was born after the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976) so much religious practice had ceased. I used to sit at the back of the church when I went alone, but when I joined the youth group we would sit at the front. As a youth I went of my own free will to church.
By John Wang Zongshe
When I was baptized my godfather chose the name John in honor of St John the Baptist. I was born into a traditional Catholic family and brought up in Hebei Province, four hours by train southwest of Beijing. Our village was one-third Catholic. When I was young there was no television in our home so I asked my father to tell me Bible stories and that is where my faith journey began. As a primary school student, each Saturday I would play with my friends in our village but also made time for one hour’s adoration before the Blessed Sacrament in the local church. It was the custom in our village to have exposition of the Blessed Sacrament on Saturday afternoon and the Catholics would spend some time in prayer in the church. I feel that my personal relationship with God has its origin in those hours before the Blessed Sacrament.
Last June John Wang Zongshe and Joseph Li Jiangang came to Manila as the first candidates from the People’s Republic of China to join the Columbans. The Columbans were originally known in Ireland as the Maynooth Mission to China when the Irish bishops gave their approval on 10 October 1916 to a new mission of the Irish Church to China. The Society of St Columban was formally approved on 29 June 1918, the feast of Sts Peter and Paul.
By Fr Kwon Tae-Moon, Johan
Fr Tae-moon Kwon, whose baptismal name is Johan, was ordained in Korea in January. He reflects on his mother's visit to China while he was there on his first mission assignment (FMA) with Fr Andrei Paz when they were still seminarians. Both new ordained priests will take up their first missionary assignment as priests in Taiwan in September. The article first appeared in The Far East, the magazine of the Columbans in Australia and New Zealand.
On 3 April 2008 my mother came from Korea to China to see me. My plan wasn't to go sightseeing but to let her see how we Columbans work in China. As a result, we met many of the people whom I was encountering in my ministry.
By Elizabeth Parkes
Elizabeth Parkes, then 11 and now 14, the daughter of Jackie Parkes, wrote on how she helps her mom cope with manic depression.
As you read the book you will pick up some tips on how to cope with your parents who have a mental illness. Well, I am 11-years-old and have a mother who suffers from manic depression. Every now and then I give her some tips and targets that she should work up to. I say things like ‘When you keep up your good mood you have nearly emptied your drinking cup, but every time you keep a bad mood your glass fills up again.’ This gives her a big boost and helps her to feel a bit better. When you have a mental illness, plenty of rest is needed, so every couple of nights I give my mom a massage on her back, feet or head. All massages can tone your body and refresh your mind.
By Fr Pat Sayles
Ninety-eight years ago Father Edward Galvin set out for China, paving the way for hundreds of Columban missionaries not only to China but to the Philippines and many other countries in Asia, in South America and in the Pacific.