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News from the USCCA and the church in China

The Journey of Lent: Week 5

Week Five: A meditation- Catechists as apostles of modern faith and belief during Lent.

How did you learn about your religious beliefs? Your age might influence how you answer this question.


It might have been by attending your parish Saturday, Sunday, or weekday after-school catechism class.
Maybe it was via home-school religious instruction.
Or, as a convert, you might have participated in the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA).

Posted photo is 800.01_070.015. The Passionist China Collection. This collection is at the Ricci Institute for Chinese-Western Cultural History, Boston College. 

All these scenarios require a teacher.

During this fifth week, we might take time to appreciate the significance of religious education teachers. Historically, we have also identified them as catechists. We have seen their mission as sacred: in this case, they continue to pass on the principles of Catholic faith and tradition. Perhaps it is better that they also be called apostles of modern faith in 2024. It is sometimes said that if you want to increase your faith, take time to teach the faith you believe in. This, of course, should be passed on as a gift rather than a burden of life. 

This Lent is an excellent time to thank a religion teacher for their witness of faith personally.

Furthermore, might you consider the opportunity to read this as an invitation that you become a religion teacher, an apostle of modern faith? 

Lenten Blessings and Peace,

Rev. Rob Carbonneau, CP, Ph.D., Director Emeritus

And All of us at the USCCA



  • Father Cormac Shanahan, C.P. (1899-1987) was ordained as a Passionist Catholic priest in 1925. In 1926, he was assigned as a member of the fifth "missionary band" of American Passionists to preach the Gospel in West Hunan, China. Like many of his counterparts, because he had no advanced language training and rudimentary cultural preparation, he was required to immerse himself in the daily pulse of Chinese relationships. Shanahan and his confreres knew that Americans back home followed their missionary adventures in Sign Magazine, a national Catholic monthly published by the Passionists. So, it was common for them to take photos and write articles to be published in the magazine. 

  • The posted photo is from the 1920s era. In his hand, Shanahan wrote the following comment: “Matthew, our excellent Chinese catechist at the entrance to Kaotsun Mission” (This area is Gaocun, 高 村,  in Hunan province). Shanahan's note is a clear testament to the value of the catechists. They were his and the Passionist's modern-day apostles during their era in China till 1955. Another interesting fact about Father Cormac Shanahan is that In June 1944, as a reporter for Sign Magazine, he found himself a participant in the Yan'an Press Party. The cohort was the first group of newspaper reporters that the Guomindang government, then based in Chongqing, China, permitted to visit Mao Zedong at his Communist stronghold in Yan'an, Shaanxi province, China. Fortunately, The Passionist China Collection has his handwritten diary of his participation in this historic event.


Reflections from Rev. Rob Carbonneau, CP, Ph.D., Director Emeritus

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