CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Sunday, 1 September 2019

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Chance lunch brings double blessing to China Church

HONG KONG (SE): A chance lunch at a parish in Brooklyn in the United States of America just 100 years ago led to a steady flow of missionaries coming to China during the first half and the latter part of the 20th century.

Irish-born Father Edward Galvin, who was to become one of the founders of the Columban Mission Society, played host to Father John Fraser, later the founder of the Canadian Scarboro Mission Society, who was returning to China after a trip home to raise money and support for his mission.

That was in January 2012 and by February 25 of the same year Father Fraser was aboard the Express of India bound for Shanghai with the young Irish curate from Holy Rosary parish as his first volunteer.

The two worked alongside the Vincentian priests in Chekiang, later to be the field of labour for the Scarboro priests in China.

After several years, Father Galvin returned to Ireland to found his society and Father Fraser to his diocese of Toronto for the same purpose. Both societies were erected in 1918.

Father Fraser died in Osaka, Japan, in 1962. Father Galvin was ordained as the bishop of Hanyang, China, with the guns of the encroaching armies of Mao Zedong in the background in 1927.

He died in Ireland in 1956.

To mark the centenary of the chance luncheon, the superior general of the Columbans, Father Tommy Murphy, invited Scarboro Father Ray O’Toole to the residence of the society’s general council in Kowloon West for a dinner on Pancake Tuesday, February 22.

Father O’Toole is a former member of the Scarboro superior general’s council and is currently based in Hong Kong. He is the secretary general of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences.

Father O’Toole presented the Columbans with a book on the history of his society, Assignment in Chekiang, and Father Murphy reciprocated with a copy of the history of the early years of the Columbans, The Splendid Cause.

Maybe there is no such thing as pure chance, but the unplanned luncheon 100 years ago proved to be a double blessing for the Church in China.

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