From the Heartland
to the Borderlands

A Catholic Study Tour of China’s West & South
May 11 - May 26, 2019


China is a land of extraordinary cultural and historical breadth. This May the USCCA will host a unique opportunity to experience China’s 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 learn from Chinese Catholics who share in and contribute to the life of their local communities. 

The study tour will be led by Fr. Michael Agliardo, director of the USCCA and a visiting professor of 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 study tour affords a unique context for reflection on questions of faith, culture, and meaning. Throughout, participants who so desire will also have the opportunity for prayer and Eucharist. 

Saturday, May 11 to Sunday, May 26, 2019


Spanning two full weeks,

15 days and nights in total.

Yunnan Shangri-la White Water Terraces (

Our study tour begins in Hong Kong, a liminal space where Chinese culture and the global order interpenetrate. In Hong Kong, the Church has served the local community in education and social services since its earliest days. There we will meet with Catholic youth and with the staff of the Holy Spirit Study Centre.

From Hong Kong, we fly to Xi'an, near the site of the capital established by China’s first emperor. We will view the Qin Dynasty Terracotta Warriors, and the Nestorian Stele – erected during the eighth century – which records the story of the arrival of Christian monks to the Tang imperial court in the previous century. We will also meet with diocesan officials, view a dynamic new retreat center, and visit local Catholics in a smaller, neighboring diocese.

A bullet trains will then take us to Chengdu, capital of Sichuan province. Famed for its pandas, its spicy cuisine, and its venerable cultural roots, Sichuan is also home to a vibrant Catholic community. One of the USCCA’s board members, a seventh generation Chinese Catholic himself, has arranged a visit that provides an intimate introduction to Chengdu’s Catholic traditions and its cultural heritage.

Our next stop takes us to the Chinese Shangri-la (香格里拉), located in the magical mountainous region of Yunnan. Yunnan hosts some of China’s most dramatic scenery, and many of its minority communities. Some of these communities have been Catholic for generations, while for others, the Catholic faith represents a new encounter. We will journey by bus into the countryside surrounding Shangri-la to visit, among other places, a Tibetan Catholic village. We will also have the opportunity to visit Kunming, capital of Yunnan Province, and seat of one of the bishops who was recently reconciled with the Holy See. 

Our final stop takes us to Guangzhou, one of the economic engines of southern China. There we will visit the small but vibrant Catholic community and Sun Yat-Sen University, established in 1924 by the esteemed founder of modern China. 

Our study tour comes to a close in Guangzhou. However, the staff of the USCCA can also provide advice and assistance to those who wish to stay longer for tourism or other purposes.

South & West map.jpg
Download the info sheet

All are welcome to apply

Though the focus of From the Heartland to the Borderlands is the Catholic community in China, it is open to people of any background, especially:

  • Catholics who seek to promote a respectful and mutually supportive relationship between the Church in the United States and the Church in China; 

  • Faithful of other backgrounds who want to better understand the nuanced circumstances of religion in China;

  • Academics who seek to better understand the history, social context, or cultural adaptation of Catholicism in China; 

  • Journalists seeking an informed perspective that goes beyond the usual stereotypes.


The cost for participation in From the Heartland to the Borderlands is $2785 per person double occupancy, or $3485 per person single occupancy. 

Subsidies are available for students and others with limited resources. Inquiries welcome.
Study tour organizers will provide accommodations & meals, transportation within China, the services of translators and guides, orientation materials, and opportunities for reflection and prayer.

While our travel agent is prepared to work with participants to arrange transit to China and back, as well as a Chinese tourist visa, if needed, these items are not included in the cost of the study tour per se.


For information about the application process, visas, and travel assistance, visit the Study Tour Application Process page.
Please submit your application by January 15 to be considered in the first round of the selection process. Space is limited.


Study Tour Info Sheet