T: (852) 2576 2801   /   tanredtea@gmail.com /  St. Joseph's Church - 37 Garden Rd, Central, Hong Kong

© 2020 by fr joseph tan. Proudly created with Wix.com

  • Wix Facebook page


December 9, 2013



A bishop's room could hardly be more severe than that at Chengtingfu, and it struck the note of the whole establishment. Bishop de Vienne de Hautefeuille is not much above forty. He is small of stature and thin but his ideas are large and I found at Chengtingfu an organization that completely surprised me.
There were some six or seven nationalities represented among the priests, and one could quickly sense an ideal community spirit
with the Bishop presiding as a necessary "first among equals."

This was particularly noticeable at recreation, which is taken in a quaint Chinese house used on several occasions by the Emperor of China and deeded to the Mission along with the land
as indemnity for the Boxer ravages. Like all the other buildings, this house rests on the ground and is floored with rough stones. Arm-chairs are strung along on either side, and at the end of the two files is the mandarin lounge, where the Bishop places his mandarin guests with himself. This distinguished seat is above the floor, and the mandarin's place is furthest from the door —so that the rest of the company, I presume, may serve as a buffer for the honored man in case he is attacked by brigands.The Bishop evidently considered me as good as the average mandarin and I squatted on th throne as if I belonged there.

Early night prayers follow the recreation period in Lazarist houses, and early retiring, for the simple reason that these good men rise at four o'clock every morning. The Bishop, a most thoughtful soul, was much concerned about my room, into which a smoky stove had been placed, and he was otherwise concerned about my physical well-being, because when I returned from night prayers to my quarters I found a bowl of something yellow that reminded me of an old-fashioned concoction named after Thomas
and Jeremias. This was a new Chinese experience for me but I managed to live through it.

There is a great Buddhist temple at hengtingfu, fullyhirteen hundred years old, containing a huge bronze image of Buddha, seventy-three feet high, but I did not see it. Ad-joining the Mission wall, however, is another pagoda now used as a barracks, which impressed itself upon me at an unearthly hour the next morning when at least twenty soldiers, ambitious to learn how to sound a bugle call, began a half-hour of



practice. There was no need of an alarm clock that morn-
ing, or of a rousing call.

A Model Mission.

A seminarian served my Mass, which followed that of the Bishop in the private chapel of the Fathers, and at about eight-thirty we began the visit of the compound. At first glance I thought that it would be done in about an hour, but it required practically the entire morning because there is hardly a phase of
Catholic activity that is not exemplified in that walled corner of the walled city of Chengtingfu. Abandoned waifs, orphans,
and outside pupils, old people, the blind, deaf-mutes, imbeciles, catechumens (girls and women), the sick in a hospital or at the
dispensary, workrooms where cloth, lace, and embroidery are produced for customers who are readiy found — these suggest the activities at Chengtingfu.

The Sisters of Charity are here, all happy in their work and in these restricted surroundings which might pall on the many but which to each and all of these good souls are like a little
world. It was indeed interesting. The Sisters, like all of their kind, took advantage of the Bishop's inspection to throw out a very broad hint to him that a certain department was getting
over-crowded, that he must build another wing, and so forth. He put them off with a wave of the hand but I know that he will meet their wishes at the earliest opportunity. It reminded me of Maryknoll, with the Teresians calling for some much needed improvement when the treasury is low — its normal height.

The Sisters here knew of Maryknoll through The Field Afar, and especially because of the interest taken by a nun* who had been recently transferred to Kiukiang. This nun, who belongs
to a well-known English family, had found real happiness at Chengtingfu, nursing the scores of repulsive-looking people, bearing patiently difficult weather conditions and a thousand
other trials incidental to mission life.

The Sisters try to keep up their own establishment by gifts from friends and by the sale of embroidery, so as to leave the
Bishop free to expand his diocesan works; and they succeed *Si3ter Claire Fielding. See note page 143.

^ 128




to a considerable extent because their faith in God's Providence is strong and because economy is their constant watch-word. I found at Chengtingfu imbecile children picking over old cotton linings so that the remnants could be mixed with new cotton and become serviceable. Blind women and children were engaged at the spinning wheels, and about the only drones in the hive were some old men who had been picked up from the dumps of Chengtingfu, unable even to beg. I found too, that almost everything that appears on the table is raised in the compound —poultry, vegetables, milk for infants, butter as a rare dish, altar-
wine, rice, and potatoes.

I am certain that I have not mentioned all of the varied works under the care of the Sisters of Charity, who number fourteen, including four Chinese nuns. There is also here a novitiate for the Josephines, a community of women exclusively Chinese, whose spirit of poverty is deeply marked and whose labors in the outlying districts are very successful. No fewer
than a hundred and thirty of these women are already enlisted in the vicariate of Chengtingfu.

It was getting late in the morning when we finished this first inspection and I had no time to meet the Paulists, a group of
Chinese Brothers, some forty-six in number, who are engaged in various kinds of manual labor. We caught a glimpse, however,
of the industrial school for orphan boys, where I noted an altar
in construction. I looked into the "School of Languages and
European Sciences," which sixty boys attend; and paid a visit
to the Seminary, which had twenty young men in philosophy or

When lunch was over I said good-bye to the Fathers and re-turned with the Bishop across the fields to the heart of the city,
where we found carts ready to bring us a couple of miles to the preparatory school and then to the railway station.

I tried to read my breviary as a missioner would have to do at times while on a journey, but I was not very successful and when word came from the Bishop that we should get out and
walk I obeyed cheerfully, thinking at the same time of the in-conveniences to which he  imself, his priests, and the nuns are occasionally subject for days at a time.

Please reload

Featured Posts


April 25, 2015




記得我到澳洲的第一天,才從墨爾本的最主要的火車站--弗林德斯街火車站(Flinders St Station)出來。抬頭就看到了聖保祿(ST Paul)大教堂。每天很多人從郊區的四面八方來到城市上...

Please reload

Recent Posts

February 27, 2015

December 25, 2014

Please reload

Search By Tags
Follow Us
  • Facebook Classic