A great fire burns in the great land of China. Ignited by the Holy Spirit, it impels ordinary Chinese people who have encountered Christ to engage in living faith with ardor so strong, they are compelled to bring Jesus to others. Please pray for the catechists in training who go, two by two, in missionary zeal, knocking on doors of homes that they may share stories of faith with all who will listen.
Assisting and collaborating with a dedicated priest of Chinese origin, Fr. John B. Wang, I have had the privilege to, personally, share the faith with our Chinese brothers and sisters. In 2015, upon our return from the most recent trip to China, Father was inspired to begin writing catechetical materials for evangelization. Fr. Wang’s life story could readily become material for an epic biography and it is filled with events and experiences which seem, at first glance, to be isolated, interesting pieces of one man’s life. On deeper reflection, one can see how God has threaded and woven the pieces, essential parts of the whole, to fulfill His great and beautiful purposes for one person’s life. Not to be overlooked, I firmly believe each of us either knows or can discover this to be true about our own lives.
The pieces of Father’s story which brought him to begin writing the catechetical materials involve the time when he was asked to establish the Chinese department at the University of Montana (UM) where he was a professor teaching the Spanish language. (Are you wondering how it came to be that a Catholic priest of Chinese origin was teaching Spanish at a secular university in America? I told you it was an epic biography. Father, a direct descendant of Confucius, was a little boy of 10 when he entered the minor seminary after being trained as a Confucian scholar. As a young man in 1949, he fled his homeland and went to Spain. Mandarin Chinese was his first language, Latin his second and he became fluent in Spanish as he finished his seminary training. After a year as parish pastor, on to Rome went he to earn a JUD, both civil and canon law. I won’t give details about his PhD’s and additional five languages he speaks so we can fast forward to his arrival in America where he began teaching in seminaries before taking a job at UM while being welcomed and incardinated into the Diocese of Helena for consultation in canon law. Father taught during the week and spent most weekends on the road, providing substitution so that his brother diocesan priests could get away for a variety of reasons.) When he was asked to establish the Chinese department, Father went on a scholarly research quest into Chinese history, culture and customs. This very knowledge, gained nearly 50 years ago, became the springboard of connecting Chinese culture and customs to Catholic Christian teaching as Father authored the catechetical writings to introduce his people to Jesus Christ. To date, Father has written six small books for the Chinese people.
The first book, Spiritual Light on the Human Life, is being distributed throughout China and requests for this book continue to come from all over the country of Father’s birth. My peanut part was editing the original English text and gathering beautiful images, reflecting a dimension of each of the teachings and stories of faith. I giggle every time I see my name snuggled in the midst of all those Chinese writing characters in the introduction of the books. (The Chinese love and giggle when I entertain them with my pathetic Chinese speaking.) Two additional books have been published and are also circulating throughout the nation.
I have wanted to share this good news with you for some time now for it is yet another example of what Phillip Frank wrote:
“It’s as if the rescue is awakening, that the birth pangs of the new dawn are starting to manifest, that the old order is breaking up and the new order starting to shine through.”
Please, do pray for the Chinese people, the priests, the many catechists and the many good, ordinary people who do not yet know Jesus. Please pray that these materials written by Fr. Wang reach the hands, heads and hearts of countless Chinese people.
I also share this news to ask for your prayers, at this time, for dear Fr. Wang, a truly holy, faithful, Marian priest, erudite and wise, yet little and lowly with a heart that loves all so blessed to be in his presence. On Saturday night, I took him to the ER and he was admitted into the hospital with pneumonia. It’s well known that this disease in someone who’s nearly 90, can be a serious health issue. Many a night and day, Father and I have prayed, together, for Charlie and all the community of TNRS. And as much as Father is a spiritual father to me, he is also more than a friend; he is as a natural father for me. My heart is heavy yet I know God has a plan for Fr. Wang, for me, for you and for our world. May God bless, strengthen and heal Fr. Wang.
Finally, I share with you a little more of Father’s epic story. He has lived TNRS his whole life long, even in the greatest times of darkness. The following footage was produced at the outset of embarking on our China Project, as we like to call our evangelizing efforts. His dream conveyed in the video has been altered by God’s design and it continues to bear great fruit. Father didn’t like the feeling of talking to a camera so he requested that I sit across from him as the audience. Having the greatest expertise in peanut parts, I was delighted to do so.
Addendum: People have asked about the church to be built. The video was produced in 2014 and Our Lady Help of Christians Church was completed in 2015, the first Catholic church built in Shandong Province since WWII. It was dedicated when we were in Zhanghua in May 2015. Just before the Lenten season this year, the parish “graduated” from being a mission to welcoming a permanent pastor so the growing number of Catholics received ashes for the first time and experienced all the beauty of Holy Week in their parish, inviting hundreds of non-Catholics to join them.
The focus, now, is on the distribution of the books Fr. Wang has written. In this is evidence of God at work in His process of gathering us as one flock under one shepherd. At the end of the video, you see information for making tax deductible contributions to this effort as the Diocese of Helena has opened a line for this purpose through their foundation office. If you are interested in supporting the distribution of the books, simply make a check out to: Diocese of Helena, POF-China and mail it to: Fr. John B Wang, 425 Ford St., Missoula, MT 59801
Father loves to, personally, respond to each one who contributes before depositing the checks in the Propagation of the Faith Account for China. Granted, he will be recovering for a while, but I have actually lived in residence with him for the last ten years, shortly after the passing of my husband. I’m ready to take up nursing duties as my NRS and have long assisted Father in everything from correspondence to editing and I fill the barber role pretty well without drawing blood. Our favored collaboration is daily and nightly prayer while dreaming aloud of the Triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. I tell Father we are as Simeon and Anna waiting in the temple for God’s Plan to unfold in our time as surely as it has from every generation to another. Maranatha!
As you reach nearly the end of the video, hit pause when you see a photo with three clergymen in the front row. To the left is Msgr. Joseph Wang, former vicar general of a diocese in Taiwan and he is Fr. John Wang’s biological brother. In the center is Bishop Joseph Ma, now deceased, of the local diocese in Shandong, China. On the right, of course, is Fr. John. Just behind them is the only Caucasian in the group. This was taken in 1995 when I accompanied the Fathers Wang to their home village to fulfill a dream for which they had prayed for 50 years: the baptism of all in their family. I became godmother to the entire Wang Clan (minus the Fathers’ generation) one beautiful October afternoon. Fr. John and I actually took baptismal names from the Litany of the Saints for each family member.
My hope is that we all gain inspiration from Fr. John B Wang’s unfailing trust in God’s Will and His Providence as we move forward in the Storm. Onward! Onward with the ordinary way and next right steps immersed in prayer, not only of petition, but also of thanksgiving for God is always near to the brokenhearted and He has taken care of each of us in every life circumstance. “For I know well the plans I have in mind for you – oracle of the Lord – plans for your welfare and not for woe, so as to give you a future of hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11)