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News from the USCCA and the church in China

Mission of Dialogue and Friendship

By Tom McGuire, USCCA Board

Hope is in Christ at DePaul University in Chicago, August 2-4, 2024. Tom McGuire, a member of the Chicago Chapter of the Maryknoll Affiliates, led a conversation with Chapter members about the USCCA mission and Catholics in China. The conversation began with the inspiring words of Maryknoll Bishop James Edward Walsh, M.M., who, in July 1970, walked into Hong Kong after being released from house arrest in China. He told reporters, “I have no bitterness toward those who tried and condemned me…I could never feel angry with any Chinese. I love the Chinese people.” The following is my summary of the conversation.

~ members of the Maryknoll Affiliates Chapter at the Maryknoll House in Hyde Park, Chicago

The conversation began with the present historical moment in China and the USCCA's mission of building bridges of dialogue and friendship with the people of China within the current historical context. There was a recognition of suffering in China resulting from many historical factors and deep cultural misunderstandings about religion. Christianity continues to be considered a foreign religion with many restrictions in China.

The mission of friendship with anyone from outside China and Chinese friends in China can cause tension, mainly due to political issues resulting from a long history of conflict and suffering. The question raised in the conversation was, What can Catholic missionary disciples do to lessen the tension and promote dialogue? This suggested a need to listen to Chinese people, learn from them, and engage in a partnership to seek peace on Earth.

What is needed to be engaged in a mission with Chinese people in China today?

The conversation reflected on Sister Lina Rong’s words, a Chinese Old Testament scholar who directs retreats and gives talks in many parts of China. She advised those interested in serving in a mission with China, “I think in our time, we need people who can go beyond themselves to build bridges among people with different faith traditions, different ways of life, different opinions on political issues, to let go of one’s sense of security in a certain ‘belief’ and ‘truth,’ to admit that my view is limited, then to listen and to appreciate the other. We can live in peace even if we are different.” Her advice suggests a need for missionary disciples with hearts that have been transformed through their friendship with Jesus.

A key part of the USCCA mission is to share with Catholics in the U.S. the Chinese Christians' hope in Christ. An example of the message that can be shared is the story of Tan Jian, a Christian man in prison for his religious activities. In sharing his faith with other prisoners, a physical confrontation took place, with the possibility of significant physical harm to himself. His response was,

“My Lord has been slapped among the prisoners. The soldiers mocked our Lord Jesus, putting a crown of thorns on him and then a purple robe. What use do I have for my face? What use do I have for the hypocritical, prison-affiliated face? The Lord Jesus is my face; the Lord Jesus is my countenance; the Lord Jesus is my glory. Not only is Jesus my glory- he is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact imprint of God’s nature. God has shone in my heart. I have known and seen that Jesus Christ is the image of God, with the true light of God’s glory on his face.”

Tan Jian's story is of a deep, intimate friendship with Jesus Christ. He invites those who hear his story to discover his friendship with Jesus, who loves everyone.

The Maryknoll Affiliates in Chicago are involved in different missions, some with migrants recently sent to Chicago from the southern border, others with prisoners in local jails who do not speak English, some with people in Haiti, and some with USCCA mission of friendship and dialogue with people of China.

In conclusion, members recognized that friendship is a common characteristic of all the ministries. The question that needs more exploration is:

How can a more intimate friendship with Jesus be developed that creates dialogue beyond political and domestic divisions?

I invite everyone to participate in the USCCA 29th International Conference, Theme: “Our Hope is in Christ.” Explore with Chinese sisters and brothers the mission of building bridges of friendship and dialogue with the people of China.


Finally, if you have enjoyed visiting the USCCA website and want to learn more about our mission, please contact or consider donating $35 to honor the 35th anniversary of the USCCA. 


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