CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 15 June 2019

Print Version    Email to Friend
Silver jubilee for survivor of China persecutions

TAIPEI (UCAN): Eighty-five-year-old Father Matthew Chu Li-the, of the Society of Jesus, who was imprisoned for more than two decades in China celebrated the 25th anniversary of his ordination at Kuting Sacred Heart Church, Taipei, on January 9.
 
Joining him at the Mass was his 87-year-old brother, Father Chu Yu-teh, of the unofficial Church in Shanghai; their cousin, Father Simon Chu sj; Joseph Cardinal Zen Ze-kiun, the former bishop of Hong Kong; Archbishop Joseph Ti-Kang, the former bishop of Taipei; parish priest, Father Joseph Bui Ngoc Thang sj; and nine other Jesuits.
 
Prior to the celebration, it was unsure if Father Chu Yu-teh would be allowed to leave China as in 2005, public security at Shanghai airport stopped him from boarding a flight to join some of his brothers overseas on a pilgrimage.
 
During his homily, Father Simon said that Father Matthew travelled to Rome to meet Pope Francis in 2015 for the 60th anniversary of the persecution of the Catholic Church in Shanghai. During the audience with the pope, Father Matthew spoke of the Church’s suffering in mainland China.
 
Pope Francis had long known of the suffering of Father Chu Shu-teh, who also arrested during the persecution of the Church in 1955. He was later released, but was rearrested in early 1981 for his faith and later died in prison in 1983.
 
Pope Francis told Father Matthew when he was archbishop of Buenos Aires that he had obtained Father Shu-teh’s remains, which are still preserved at the bishop’s residence in the Argentinian capital.
 
Father Matthew came from a well-known Catholic family in Shanghai. His two maternal uncles were diocesan priests, while his two paternal uncles, eldest brother Shu-teh, a third brother Li-teh (Michael) and fifth brother Yu-teh all joined the Jesuits.
 
Father Matthew was the sixth of eight children and studied at schools run by Jesuits. Later he joined the Jesuit-run Xujiahui minor seminary.
 
He and his brother Chu Yu-teh were both seminarians when communist authorities stepped up their persecution against the Shanghai Church in the mid-1950s. Both were arrested and imprisoned in labour camps for 27 years.
 
Then still a seminarian, Matthew was released in 1979, but was arrested again in 1981 and sent to a labour camp. He was released in 1985.
 
In 1988, he accompanied Ignatius Cardinal Kung Pin-mei to visit the United States of America (US), then spent six years to completing his priestly formation at the faculty of theology of Fu Jen Catholic University in Hsinchuang, near Taipei.
 
At the age of 60, he was ordained a priest at the Holy Family Church in Taipei, and has since served the Church in Taiwan. 
 
During his time in Taiwan, he assisted the late Paul Cardinal Shan Kuo-Hsi of Kaohsiung, to gather a list of martyrs who had been killed during China’s civil war and during the 1950s at the hands of the communists.
 
Some 300 people also attended the silver jubilee Mass including Matthew Lee, Taiwan’s ambassador to the Holy See; former ambassador Tou Chou-Seng; Chen Chien-Jen, vice-president of Taiwan; and 90-year-old Chu Jian-teh, another of Father Matthew’s brothers who now lives in the US.

More from this section