Many dozens of “overseas” Chinese Catholics from throughout the world gathered in Auckland last month for a conference with the theme of “faith and the family”.

This was the sixth time the “Worldwide Overseas Chinese Pastoral and Evangelisation Convention” had been held since the first such gathering in Rome in 2000, which followed the canonisation of 120 Chinese martyrs that year by Pope St John Paul II.

Those at the conference in Auckland came from many countries — including Australia, Canada, US, Peru, Tahiti and Singapore.

Among those at the conference was Archbishop Salvio Hon Tai-Fai, recently appointed by Pope Francis as apostolic nuncio to Greece.

The archbishop was responsible for the translation of the Catechism of the Catholic Church into a Chinese language. Also at the conference was the retired auxiliary bishop of San Francisco, Bishop Ignatius Wang.

Writing in the conference booklet, Auckland Catholic Chinese Community chaplain Fr Peter Choy said having a gathering such as this every three years is very good for overseas Chinese Catholics (those not in China or Taiwan).

Coming together helps built bonds between Chinese Catholics who might otherwise feel isolated, he wrote. But no matter where Chinese Catholics live, they have a common mission, which is about the mission of Christ, spreading Christian faith and practice throughout the world, he added.

The conference opening Mass was celebrated by Bishop Denis Browne at Waipuna Lodge in Mt Wellington on October 19, with Archbishop Hon, Bishop Wang and several Chinese priests concelebrating.

In his homily, Bishop Browne would speak in English, and then Pakuranga parishioner Josephine Chin would translate into Mandarin and Cantonese.

Referencing the passage from the Letter to the Romans in the readings — Bishop Browne told the conference that “Jesus has set us on the path to becoming righteous people; people who are just, upright, virtuous and law-abiding. Paul reminds us that we are blessed, because Jesus has justified not only the Jews, but also the Gentiles; his gift to us is salvation, for which we must be very grateful every day”.

The bishop hoped that those at the conference would have an Emmaus-like experience — “may your hearts be burning within you as you meet Jesus in the Scriptures, in the sacraments, and in each other”.

Seminarian Martin Wu from Auckland told NZ Catholic that the WOCPEC conference gave him a chance to consider what is means to be an overseas Chinese Catholic.

“For me, I think of the words of St John Paul II as expressed by the late Cardinal John Wu when he said ‘as overseas Chinese Catholics we must be a bridge to the mother church in China’. Words that inspire me in my vocation constantly. I am also excited to hear of many vocations to the priesthood of Chinese men from all over the world taking on the call of ‘Come, Follow Me’. I hope and pray that as overseas Chinese Catholics we may evangelise with actions of love.”

Mr Wu added that a personal highlight of the conference for him was “the evangelisation concert night where our young and young at heart sung and praised God joyfully singing of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ”.

“The theme is family for this conference and they showed that Christ was alive in their lives — they are truly fit for mission! A product of the new evangelisation.”

The closing Mass for the conference was celebrated at St Patrick’s Cathedral.

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