Faith & Dialogue

Newsletter of the USCCA | October 2020 | Issue 003

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Dear friends of the China Association,

For months on end, our lives have been on hold. We await the time when we can resume normal activities, visit with friends, and see loved ones. 

One thing seems certain: When we emerge on the other side of this pandemic, we will not be returning to the world as it was. The world has moved on. Many things have changed, some for the better. We have discovered new ways to use technology to reach out to one another. We have created more flexible work patterns that people will not readily give up. And we are reassessing our priorities in life. 

This has been a time of deep reflection for the board, staff, and friends of the China Association, too. Not only has the pandemic affected all our normal interaction with China and placed all our programs on hold. Rising tensions between China and the West have left people on both sides of the Pacific angry and disillusioned. 

Three days ago, Beijing and the Vatican renewed their provisional accord on the appointment of bishops, the arrangement first announced in 2018. However, this time, the announcement was far more subdued.

In this context, we have been told repeatedly that the mission of the China Association is more vital than ever. Below you can read more about the issues we face, the response of Catholics in China, our own new programs, a new initiative to welcome students from China, and the incredible new staff who are dedicating their efforts to achieving our ambitious goals.

Our work of maintaining fraternal relation between Catholics in China and the U.S. is a grassroots witness to authentic solidarity. I thank you for standing by us in these difficult times. 


In Our Lord,

Father Michael

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Keep the Faith Campaign Hits the Mark – Special Thanks to

All who Contributed!

Thank you to all who contributed to the "Keep the Faith" Campaign which concluded July 10. The campaign was launched to ensure operating expenses through the end of the year, since one of the  mainstays of funding for the USCCA, conducting mission appeals, would not take place in 2020. 

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The Keep the Faith campaign surpassed its $70,000 goal and brought in $73,585 thanks to the support of our friends and supporters. 

As a result, when combined with our existing resources, we now are assured of the funding to cover our part-time staff and colleagues. 

Beyond the funding we received, the campaign became a great source of encouragement. The people who came forward lent more than financial support. We were buoyed up by their words of support:


  • “I send this donation in memory of Sr. Janet Carroll, MM, who was among the founders of the USCCA, and whose labors for the      Church in China provide an enduring witness to the Church’s commitment to dialogue, patience and great love for the Chinese people.”

  • “Fr. Michael – Please continue your work so that more Catholics in the U.S. will learn about the witness of their brothers and sisters in China.”


  • “I joined the Board in the days when China and the U.S. were first feeling their way forward. Your mission now is as important than ever.”  


Thank you to everyone who lent their support and made this campaign a  success.


Talented Colleagues Join the USCCA Team

The USCCA has been blessed by the addition of seven colleagues and five extraordinary consultant who bring their talent, vision, and creativity to our programs and the people we serve. Filling two part-time positions that have been vacant for over a year, Robyn McNeill joins the USCCA as Communications Coordinator, taking over management of the newsletter, the website, and social media, while Maria Estrada has come on as Office Manager, bringing wisdom, experience, and practical insight. 


In addition, Xin Chen, who has worked with the USCCA on several key initiatives in the past, will assist with conference management and special projects. Brenner LeCompte, who boasts both an MBA and a degree in philosophy, will lead our development and promotions efforts. And Cecilia Flores will direct an initiative three years in the making, the Campus Engagement Initiative, which will serve Chinese international students here in the U.S. 


The Campus Engagement Initiative will be supported by two Jesuits interns, Thomas Croteau and Aaron Bohr. In addition, Andrea Zhou, Dr. Xueying Wang, Luke Liu, C-Y Kao, SJ, and Sue Li will serve as Campus Engagement Program Consultants


Read more about these dedicated and talented new colleagues below.


Maria Estrada

Office Manager


Over the years, Maria has worked as an executive assistant/bookkeeper and as a volunteer translator for the Lawyers Committee for Human Rights in San Francisco. Prior to joining USCCA, she had been working part time at St. Mary the Assumption Cathedral until the pandemic cancelled most of the activities.   Maria holds a BA in Government Studies from Mills College, Oakland, and is bilingual in English and Spanish, with complete fluency in both languages.


Robyn McNeill

Communications Coordinator

Born and raised in Seoul, Korea, Robyn grew up in a Catholic expat family. She attended Seoul International School and Washington & Jefferson College (Pittsburgh) where she graduated with a degree in English. Her work experience includes marketing and communications at Georgetown University and media and live-streaming for St. Anselm Church in Ross, California. Attending Mass in Seoul, Rome, Lourdes and Hong Kong as a child taught her about the Church's universal presence across cultures.  Having returned back to the faith after a time away, Robyn is interested in new media evangelization. Robyn lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her daughter, where they create artwork for the Catholic home. She works with the USCCA because it affords the opportunity to highlight and share the beauty of the Catholic Church.

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Brenner LeCompte

Mission Advancement Advisor

Brenner LeCompte has over 15 years of experience working with Catholic organizations to develop marketing and outreach strategies that advance their mission. Brenner has held roles as Regional Director of Fundraising, Local Coordinator of Ministry and Youth Minister. He has a bachelor’s degree in philosophy from the Pontifical University, Regina Apostolorum (Rome) as well as a M.B.A. in Marketing and Finance from Fordham University (New York City).

Brenner lives in Ridgefield, Connecticut, with his wife and three young children, where he serves both as Director of Youth Ministry at St Mary Parish and as Vice Chair of the Diocesan Youth Advisory Council for the Diocese of Bridgeport.


Xin Chen (陈鑫)

Special Projects Coordinator

A graduate of Peking University, Xin Chen worked for four years coordinating academic programs and exchanges at the Jesuit-affiliated Beijing Center for Chinese Studies. In 2010 he came to the U.S. for graduate studies. In addition to earning a master’s in philosophy from Loyola University Chicago, under the auspices of the provost’s office for global initiatives, he helped to establish Loyola’s four international study programs in Vietnam, Colombia, Brazil, and Chicago. An experienced program coordinator, Xin Chen also organized a three-day international interdisciplinary conference on continental philosophy, as well as the China Association’s 2013 conference in downtown Chicago. 

Xin Chen’s intellectual and academic journey began with physics at Peking University and encompassed advanced studies at Loyola Chicago in phenomenology, among other continental traditions. He now lives in Portland, Oregon, where he is exploring the joys and life experiences of being a new parent.

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Cecilia Marie Flores

Campus Engagement (Overall) Coordinator

Born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, Cecilia Flores holds an MA in Global Development & Social Justice from St. John’s University. She has spent over 15 years working in youth and young adult ministry, college campus ministry, international missions, human services, and social justice.  She has worked for the Diocese of Sacramento since 2014. She currently serves as a member of the Young Adult Advisory Board to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) Subcommittee of Asian Pacific Affairs, and has been involved in a number of national initiatives with the USCCB’s Secretariat for Cultural Diversity.

Cecilia is excited to work for the USCCA in the role of Campus Engagement Coordinator. The position combines her passion for mission, her ability to incorporate an appreciation of culture into the Church’s work of evangelization, and love of working with young people.

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Aaron Bohr, S.J.

Campus Engagement Educational Resources Coordinator

Aaron Bohr, SJ is member of the Society of Jesus. He is pursuing studies at the Jesuit School of Theology in Berkeley prior to ordination. Aaron was born in Sacramento and moved at a young age to St. Paul, Minnesota, where he was raised.  Aaron’s father’s family has lived in California since the Gold Rush, and his mother is from Jamaica’s small but influential Chinese community.  Her family has lived in Jamaica since the early twentieth century, having left China’s Hakka heartland in Guangdong to seek their fortunes in the West Indies.  Aaron’s father is a retired professor of East Asian history at the College of St. Benedict/ St. John’s University in central Minnesota.  Aaron has inherited an academic interest in things Chinese from his father and the rich Hakka Chinese heritage of his mother.  Aaron holds a B.A. degree in East Asian Studies and History from Occidental College (Los Angeles), an M.A. in Social Science from the University of Chicago, an M.A. in Education from the University of St. Thomas (St. Paul), and an M.A. in Philosophy from Fordham University (New York).  Prior to entering the Society of Jesus, Aaron taught Chinese language and World History at his high school alma mater, St. Paul Academy and Summit School (St. Paul). 

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Thomas Croteau, S.J.

Campus Engagement Workshop Coordinator

Thomas Croteau is a Jesuit seminarian at Santa Clara University’s Jesuit School of Theology in Berkeley, California.  He has formally studied over half a dozen languages, exploring how language enables the unique cultural expression of a given people. Prior to theology studies, Thomas spent three years as a high school teacher in Dallas, Texas. In addition to his passion for language and human culture, in general, he has a strong desire to learn from and be of service to the people of China. He brings his talent for language and his background in education to the UASCCA, where he will organize workshops for professors, campus ministers, and others who work with Chinese international students. 

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Xueying Wang, Ph.D.

Campus Engagement Academic Advisor

Xueying Wang came to the United States in 2007, to study classics and early Christianity at the University of Notre Dame. She was baptized into the Roman Catholic Church on Easter 2008. Upon becoming Catholic, she changed the focus of her studies to Christian theology and earned a doctorate in historical theology in 2014. Currently, Xueying is a lecturer in the Department of Theology, Loyola University Chicago. Her research is focused on Christianity in China and comparative religions. She is especially interested in studying the writings of Chinese Catholics during the Chinese Rites Controversy, whose voices had been largely ignored by modern scholarship. Once an international student herself, Xueying is passionate about working with the USCAA in improving the experiences of Chinese students in American universities.

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Andrea Zhou (周 沅)

Campus Engagement Student Development Advisor

Andrea Zhou is a student development professional now serving as Interim Assistant Director of Student Experience for the INTO Saint Louis University program, a program designed to enable international students to succeed in American higher education. Prior to coming to the United States, Andrea worked at the Jesuit-affiliated Beijing Center for Chinese Studies. With over ten years’ experience at Jesuit institutions on both sides of the Pacific, she has a long track record promoting international student success through orientation, programming, and student involvement. She is currently a doctoral student at Saint Louis University; her research focuses on international branding, marketing, and recruitment in the greater China theater.

Andrea Zhou is from China, born and raised in a small city. She lived in Beijing for over 12 years and move to Saint Louis in 2017.

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Luke Liu

High School Program Consultant

Luke Liu is a teacher in Houston and is a USCCA Board Member. He is a sixth generation Catholic from Sichuan, China. He holds a master’s in public policy from Carnegie Mellon University, and a certificate of distinction in democratic development from Stanford University. Having launched a career as an engineer in China and Europe, he then turned his focus to civil society and international education. Currently a teacher in Houston, he is also developing programs for young people from around the world to study in America.

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C-Y Kao, S.J.

Student Services Consultant


C-Y Kao is a member of the Society of Jesus. He works at the University of San Francisco supporting students to explore social issues and identities at the intersections of race, ethnicity, culture, gender, sexual orientation, and immigration and socioeconomic status. He also spends time at the university's Ricci Institute, researching the Chinese-Western cultural history. Prior to joining the Society of Jesus, C-Y worked for eight years in fundraising, partnership building, and project design at IREX, a Washington, DC-based international nonprofit that provides education, youth empowerment, and community development programs around the world. He received an MS in Foreign Service from Georgetown University and an MA in Philosophy from Loyola University Chicago. He is fluent in Chinese Mandarin and is passionate about interfaith and cross-cultural dialogue. 


Sue Li

Fellowship Activity Consultant 


Sue Li is Founding Coordinator of the CAFE Fellowship Program at Seton Hall University.  She was born in Taiwan and came to U.S. for the graduate study. She received a both master's degree and a doctorate in biochemistry from Seton Hall University. There she also began a longtime friendship with the Maryknoll brothers, fathers, and sisters. They had a great impact on her life, and they helped her to grow in her friendship with God. Through her involvement with the Maryknoll "Seminary Teachers & Formators Project," she has had the chance to meet with many priests and religious sisters from China. They illuminated her faith and encouraged her to serve the Church and the Chinese community. As a result, after a successful career in the pharmaceutical industry, Ms. Li responded to God’s call to serve as a volunteer in the local Chinese Catholic community. In addition, she collaborates with campus ministry at Seton Hall and other universities to share the Gospel with her fellow Chinese.



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Study Tour Reveals the Complexity and Dynamism of the Church in China

by Robert Yeargin


Robert Yeargin is an Associate Director of the USCCA. In 2018 he participated in a study tour sponsored by the China Association. In addition to visiting the classic tourist sites of China and sampling its regional cuisines, he and other study tour members were able to speak with ordinary Chinese, Catholic and non-Catholic, and hear first-hand their experiences and observations.  What they heard went well beyond the usual stereotypes and newspaper headlines. 

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USCCA Study Tour 2018 Xian Xian [Yeargin

Two weeks in China cannot make a person an expert on the Catholic Church in China, but even this short time provides ample food for thought.  And the overwhelming impression I’m left with is that the Church’s situation is complicated, much more complicated than the categories of the official and the underground church in most Americans’ minds.

First, some superficial impressions.  One doesn’t ordinarily think of Catholic churches dotting China’s countryside, as in rural France.  This is the case in rural Hebei Province, surrounding Beijing, a  legacy of missionary work going back to the 17th century, then resumed in rural areas under the patronage of foreign powers in the 19th.  Though a definite minority in China, an estimated 10 million persons in total, Catholics may be found in concentrations in certain areas such as Hebei, with Catholic villages going back generations.

Next, a preliminary note on the “official” versus “underground” churches. In the view of one observer, a journalist with long experience in Beijing, to describe the unofficial church as “underground” is simply a misnomer.  As this person sees it, the government knows who everybody is and where they are, meaning that nobody is really underground; the proper distinction, then, is between registered and unregistered churches.
That being said, a closer look at today’s church reveals striking contrasts in what Americans think of as the official church.  In China, it may be referred to as the “open church” or the “public church,” from the Chinese term “gongkai,” which includes both concepts...

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Now as China modernizes and reestablishes its Church, the mission of the China Association is more important than ever.  As the only national Catholic organization promoting trans-Pacific engagement and cooperation with our sister churches, the USCCA continues to develop new programs to build bridges of friendship and dialogue.

Support Our Mission by 

Becoming a USCCA Affiliate

The circumstances that the Church faces in China change as society continues to evolve. We expect many new challenges in the year to come, and we are expanding our programs accordingly. In order to meet these challenges, we rely on your support and involvement. 


We offer various options to become a USCCA Affiliate. Being a USCCA Affiliate entitles you to:

  • receive our newsletter 

  • announcements of our programs

  • discounts if you choose to participate in those programs 

  • discounts to our conference in the coming year

To learn more, please visit


Conference Update: China, Christianity, and the Dialogue of Civilizations 

It is our firm hope that by August 2021 we will be able to gather in person to learn more about the Church in China and celebrate the faith we share with one another. Please plan to join us for the 28th International Conference of the USCCA, co-sponsored by the sociology department of Santa Clara University.


Place: Santa Clara University, Santa Clara, California

Dates: EITHER 7/30 to 8/1   OR   8/6 to 8/8

Ian Johnson

Pulitzer-prize winning New York Times journalist based in Beijing, and author of The Souls of China: The Return of Religion After Mao - named one of the best books of the year by The Economist and Christian Science Monitor

Rachel Zhu (朱晓红)

Associate professor and a founding member of the Religious Studies Department at Fudan University, Shanghai.  She has written on a wide range of topics, including Christian philosophy, Catholicism, the contemporary Church in China, and feminist theology.

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Ricci Award Banquet


As part of the proceedings, at our Ricci Award Banquet, we will honor Brent Fulton and Joann Pittman of ChinaSource. ChinaSource is a Christian organization that has kept the American public informed about the evolving encounter between the Gospel and contemporary Chinese culture. 


We are currently in the process of building out our schedule of panels and workshops, displays and exhibits. In particular, we look forward to hearing from the priests, sisters, and dedicated lay people who work in China itself. 


Call for Papers


We invite scholars who explore the dynamic role that religion, and especially Christianity, play in China to present.  You may submit an abstract to one of the working panels or suggest a relevant panel topic of your own.  Please see the conference Call for Papers for further information.  Abstracts received before November 15 will be given priority.  


At China Association conferences, old friendships are renewed and new friendships formed.  Our upcoming event “China, Christianity, and the Dialogue of Civilizations” will be no exception.


We look forward to seeing you there.

Lu Nan, On the Road: The Catholic Church in China

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Lu Nan (吕楠) 

Unrivaled in his capacity to capture and reveal human dignity and the poignancy of the human condition, Lu Nan will speak about his work and his vision as a photographer.  One of his internationally acclaimed series documents the lives of Catholics in rural China between 1992 and 1996.

Chiaretto Yan (甄健湘)

Author, International Speaker.  Chiaretto holds a doctorate in Missiology from the Pontifical Gregorian University (Rome).  His primary areas of research are interdisciplinary approaches to the religions and cultures of Asia. In China, he is an acknowledged expert on youth ministry.


Three China Study Tours for 2021 in Exploratory Phase 

A New World – New Study Tours


We are forging ahead, planning for the day when Americans will once again be able to travel unrestricted.  Our best sources trust that will be possible come June 2021.


With that in mind, we are planning three study tours in 2021.  Each has a specific focus.  


While we have the needs and interests of specific constituencies in mind, all are welcome.

If you or someone you know would enjoy and benefit from being a participant, please fill out our Study Tour Interest Form.  We will then keep you informed as circumstances become clearer and we are able to nail down arrangements.

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From the Heartland to the Borderlands: Faith in Chinese Context

China is a land of surpassing cultural and historical breadth. Experience its ultra-modern cities, its great centers of education, and its ancient heartland, as well as villages where some of the minority groups that participate in the cultural mix of China have lived for centuries.  In these diverse settings, study tour participants will hear firsthand from Chinese Catholics who share in and contribute to the life of their local communities.


This study tour is specially designed for graduate students and other members of the academic community. Educational subsidies may be available. Others who would find the experience worthwhile are more than welcome.


This study tour will be led by our very own Fr. Michael Agliardo, director of the USCCA and research scholar in sociology at Santa Clara University.  Participants will take stock of the ways that Christianity and China have encountered one another, from warm welcome to occasional mutual misunderstanding, from grand metropolis to rural village, from the Tang Dynasty to the contemporary period.


This tour affords a unique context for reflection on questions of faith, culture, and meaning.

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USCCA Friends Across the Pacific: Solidarity in Challenging Times

Visit with Catholics who work in parishes, retreat centers, youth ministry, seminaries, social service centers, and universities and other settings.  Find out how we can support one another in these difficult times.  An antidote to being hemmed in by our own local pressures and concerns, this tour lends a lively experience of the Church Universal.


As you journey through Beijing, Tainjin, Shanghai, Xi'an, you will also encounter China's modern metropolises and ancient historical sites.

This tour was designed for representatives of U.S. Catholic organizations who want to meet and explore possibilities for collaboration with their counterparts in China.  It will provide an overview of the contemporary circumstances of China and the Catholic community.  All are welcome.

China: Ever Ancient, Ever Young

This study tour of China integrates the experience of China’s modern cities – universities, art districts, music scene – with the opportunity to meet with Chinese youth and young adults – Catholic, Protestant, traditional, secular.  Come experience how our younger brothers and sisters in the faith are living their lives now in a quite different China from previous generations.  How is the Church growing and adapting to meet the challenges and opportunities of the ever-changing Chinese landscape? Chinese youth are not the Church of tomorrow.  They are the young Church of today.

If you have never visited China before, the tour can be extended to include some of the classic tourist destinations, from the Forbidden Palace to the Great Wall.


This tour is especially designed for those in the United States who work with Chinese international students, either on U.S. high school or university campuses:

  • high school religious ed and theology teachers

  • religious studies and theology professors at the university level

  • campus ministers and parish youth ministers

  • student services personnel, counselors, recruiters, and administrators

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The goal of our methodology is to create a greater understanding on the part of faculties and administrations as to the cultural, sociological, and philosophical backgrounds of these students which in turn will help to integrate these student into a deeper level of campus life thus creating greater and deeper bonds of friendship and understanding.


For our first step we are currently in the process of distributing a high school and university survey to identified schools to solicit feedback on several different areas to know that what we are doing will meet the real needs of both the students and schools to genuinely support them.


From the surveys we will develop, for this Fall, several workshops at both the university and high school level which we will offer on-line for a small fee.


From our response to the workshops we will be offering follow-up workshops at our 2021 Conference, March 12-14, “China, Christianity, and the Dialogue of Civilizations.”

Besides workshops, we will be working on developing support materials for teachers and professors to use on the classrooms, develop networks of support, and provide a clearing house of ideas that have been tried and true as well as those that have been tried and failed.

One of our long term goals with the initiative is to hire a full time staff person to continue to move the initiative forward for the sake of the 400,000 Chinese International students living in our midst who have the potential to be ambassadors of friendship between two great peoples.


To reach this goal, we will be initiating fund raising campaign come _______.  Please be on the look out for sponsors/donors to help make this a reality.


We ask you to please pray for the success of this important leap forward within the USCCA.  As the initiative develops, we will keep you informed.

Fall Workshops Series for those Working with Students from China

A Brand-New Adventure –

The Campus Engagement Initiative

Over the past couple of years, we have been looking for ways to increase our effectiveness in our mission to building bridges of understanding between ourselves and our brothers and sisters in China.


A few months ago, we officially launched a new area of development called the “Campus Ministry Outreach Initiative.”  With over 400,00 Chinese high school and university students in the United States each year, we realized here is a way to strengthen our bonds of understanding and friendship without leaving our own backyard.


Under the guidance of our Executive Director, Fr. Michael Agliardo, with the assistance of Operations Director, Bernard Ciernick, many consultations were conducted, and several focus groups were convened which produced an approach to implement the initiative.


We are distributing a series of brief surveys (nine questions) to solicit feedback on several areas to better understand the current needs of both the students and their host institutions.  


If you or someone you know works at a high school or university that hosts Chinese international students, we seek your feedback to better inform our efforts. There are versions of the survey for:

  • counselors, student affairs personnel, recruiters and admissions officers

  • campus ministers

  • those who teach theology and religious studies 


If you would like to share links to these surveys with others, they are: for high school personnel for university personnel

During the coming month, we will offer several brief online workshops, at both the university and high school level. They feature an all-star cast of panelists. You can click each workshop to find out more information. 


Note that given the strained circumstances of most institutions these days, the China Association decided to offer these workshops free of charge. However, advance registration is required.

University Level


Background and Concerns of University Students Coming from China 

November 7, 2020


Meeting Recruiting Challenges in China Today: U.S. Universities

November 14, 2020


High School Level


Background and Concerns of High School Students Coming from China

November 14, 2020


Meeting Recruiting Challenges in China Today: Catholic High Schools

November 21, 2020


These offerings will continue on into Spring 2021. Then at our 2021 International Conference “China, Christianity, and the Dialogue of Civilizations”, the USCCA will make available the resources that came out of this process; host several capstone workshops; and most importantly, provide an opportunity for those involved in this effort to network. 


The USCCA’s 2021 conference will take place August 6 – 8* on the campus of Santa Clara University, Santa Clara, California. We will make a number of sessions available online, as presenters allow. Nonetheless, we look forward to your attending in person. 


We ask you to please pray for the success of this important leap forward within the USCCA.  As the initiative develops, we will keep you informed.


For more information on the Campus Engagement Initiative (CEI), please contact Cecilia Flores, Campus Engagement Coordinator, at


* or possibly the previous weekend.

Fall Workshop Series for those Working with Students from China

A Brand-New Adventure –

The Campus Engagement Initiative

Several months ago, the China Association launched its "Campus Engagement Initiative." The goal of this initiative is to enhance the capacity of the university and high school personnel to better engage the Chinese international students on their campuses. Our current focus is Catholic campuses, where we are reaching student services personnel, recruiters and admissions officers, campus ministers, and professors of theology and religion, offering them a series of online workshops, and other resources for them and their students.


Over 400,000 Chinese international students attend American educational institutions during normal times. They are, in a sense, intrepid adventurers navigating differences in language and cultural experience that most find daunting. When in the U.S., not only do they sometimes struggle with the meaning of texts and events; at the outset, at least, often the very nature of a Catholic liberal arts education is unclear. Such an education, in the broadest sense, takes into account the whole person: both intellect and life, faith and reason, self and community. 


Unless they are well versed in Chinese culture or the circumstances of young people in China, American educators may not appreciate the extent to which assumptions about life and education that are common in American culture may not be shared by Chinese international students. Campus ministers sometimes struggle to reach out and engage young people in China. Admissions officers may not be aware of the messaging that brings Chinese to apply to their schools, despite the significance of this messaging for shaping what a student thinks he or she is coming for in the first place. And especially in theology and religious studies classes, finding relevant bases for conversation and dialogue can be difficult if the professor has only a passing appreciation of the heritage of Chinese international students. 


Several years in the making, the Campus Engagement Initiative (CEI) is being launched at what seems to be a very inauspicious time. Currently, U.S. campuses are struggling to open, and their students from China are attempting to plug in online. Meanwhile, the tense rhetoric between China and the U.S. has left many feeling that they are not welcome. It is precisely at this time that providing welcome and support for these young people is so crucial. They are the future. They are the ones who can help point our two societies in the direction of mutual understanding, mutual respect, and cooperation for the common good. 


Under the guidance of our Executive Director, Fr. Michael Agliardo, with the assistance of Operations Director Bernard Ciernick, during the preceding year a series of consultations were conducted and several focus groups convened. Out of this process, our initial plans emerged. In August of this year, Cecilia Flores joined the team  as the CEI Coordinator. Ms. Flores, who has a background in program management and intercultural outreach, will work with Fr. Michael, other China Association staff, and two Jesuit interns, Thomas Croteau and Aaron Bohr, to lay the foundations of this initiative over the course of the coming year. They are joined by five dedicated program consultants. (You can read about these staff and consultants here.)

One of our goals is to provide faculty and campus personnel with an introduction to the cultural, sociological, and philosophical backgrounds of Chinese International students. At the same time, we are aware that even the experts we bring in for our various workshops and panels do not have all the answers. Rather, campus personnel and faculty are the experts, yet on our end we can highlight key issues. The goal then is to launch a conversation and promote a richer engagement of Chinese international students with Catholic campus life. 


The Role of Confucian and Christian Dialogue in the China Puzzle

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Professor Diane Obenchain, an expert on Confucian tradition and director of the China Initiaitve at Fuller Seminary (in Pasadena, California), will speak on Confucian-Christian dialogue on November 22. Join us for this online event. [embed link to our page.]


Dr. Obenchain was one of the first Western professors to teach at Peking University, beginning in 1988, at the time when China was reopening to the West. Now she spearheads Fuller Seminary’s engagement with Nanjing Seminary, China’s one national Protestant seminary.


As a long-time China observer, and one with a keen eye, Dr. Obenchain will offer observations that are the fruit of many years of engagement with China. 


To find out more and to register:


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For American Academy of Religion (AAR) members: On Thursday, December 3 at 7:30 PM (Eastern Time), Dr. Obenchain will present a version of this talk as part of the AAR’s Annual Meeting, which will take place online this year from November 29 to December 10. 


Dr. Obenchain’s talk is organized by the China Academic Consortium (CAC) and co-sponsored by the US-China Catholic Association (USCCA) and ChinaSource. It is part of an ongoing series with these partners have launched.



At a Glance: Chinese Catholic

Faith Life during Coronavirus Epidemic 

by Li Fei, July 2020

Going home for the Chinese New Year has been an important Chinese tradition for thousands of years. This is the annual family gathering, a most solemn moment. On 26 January 2020, the Lunar New Year of the Chinese Spring Festival came earlier than usual (normally it comes in February). This year, it seemed that everyone was still excited about the celebration of Christmas and the New Year. Then in mid-January, many Chinese workers in Beijing were preparing to return to their hometowns; some were already on the way back home. Suddenly, a seemly tiny news item struck the hearts of people.

Since December 2019, there had been more and more Coronavirus patients in Wuhan, Hubei Province. On January 23, the State officially had announced the closure of the city in Wuhan. The severity of the situation...

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Further Reading

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The Never Ending March:

China's Religious Policy and the Catholic Church

by Rev. Sergio Ticozzi, PIME

Chorabooks, October 2, 2018

Shortly after the provisional accord on the nomination of bishops in China was announced by the Vatican and Beijing, Chorabooks released The Never Ending March.  Now, two years later, with the Sino-Vatican accord renewed, once again provisionally, once again in secret, and once again against a backdrop of slow progress and frequent setback,  the title of Sergio Ticozzi’s book strikes the weary observer as all too accurate. 


The author is a member of the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions, also known as the PIME Fathers (based on the Latin name for their institute). The Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions is a missionary society founded in Italy in 1850. Father Ticozzi himself has lived in China for over 50 years. He currently serves as a Researcher and Project Director on staff at the Holy Spirit Study Centre, which is run by the Diocese of Hong Kong. He has written numerous articles, book chapters, and books on religion in China, the Catholic Church in China, and the Catholic Church in Hong Kong, in particular.  




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“In the News” pieces review particular issues that concern Christianity and the Church in China in order to bring together in one place key developments and resources so that the reader may explore further. The author, of course, has a standpoint; nonetheless, he or she endeavors to capture all sides of any debate in all their cogency, not to press a particular point.


The Provisional Agreement between the Vatican and China

on the Nomination of Bishops:
A Brief Review of the History and Issues at Stake

by Michael Agliardo, SJ

On October 22, Vatican News posted the announcement that the provisional accord on the nomination of bishops negotiated between China and the Holy See had been renewed, provisionally. China's Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian confirmed that the renewal would extend the agreement for two additional years, until October 2022. Beyond that confirmation, neither side elaborated on the terms of the agreement. They remain confidential.
How did we get to this moment, and what is the significance of this agreement? According to the Vatican’s Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the present accord is “the agreement with China sought by all recent popes.” While this statement has occasioned dispute over the sense in which it is true, it is certainly the case that both Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI did reach out repeatedly to Chinese authorities in the hopes of establishing a cooperative relationship for the good of the Church in China. That said, the accession of Pope Francis does mark a new moment in the Vatican’s engagement with China. The comments which follow recapitulate what has unfolded since....