From the Mandarin community, the Speech from Joseph Ku, one of the founders of the Chinese Mission
1983年我们只有十几个家庭，没有人会想到这个小小的查经班会有什么前景。四十年过去了。1995年住在Fremont 的教友独立出来，成立了他们的团体，现在属于Oakland 教区。2001年住在中半𡷊的教友也独立出来，成立了中半岛华人天主教会，现在属于旧金山教区。2013年圣荷西主教Patrick McGrath将我们团体提升为Mission “类堂区”的地位。在过去四十年当中，我们发展出许多不同的使徒工作和善会组织，我们也努力教育下一代的信仰，现在他们都长大成人，也从我们手中接过棒子，继续教会赋予他们的使命。今天我没有时间详细解说这四十年来教会成长所有发生的故事，我只能说这一切都是天主的恩典。
我还淸楚记得1983年夏天，我们去主教公署晋见当时圣荷西第一任主教Pierre DuMaine, 希望他同意我们成立华人天主教团体。当时的主教府位于Los Altos San Joseph College, 这幢建筑在1989年地震时被摧毁了。主教在见面时第一句话就问我们，为什么你们要成立自己族裔的教会团体？你们可以看看爱尔兰裔，意大利裔的教友，原本也有自己族群的教会团体，后来也都解散融入教会的大家庭𥚃。我的回应是，华人教友来到美国，文化的适应已经有相当困难，也很不容易融入美国堂区，来继续保持我们的天主教信仰，当时各个堂区并没有善会组织来欢迎新的教友，尤其是华人。反观湾区有许多华人基督教会欢迎我们加入，如果我们没有自己族裔的团体，使用中文来举行弥撒礼仪及圣事，我相信许多华人教友会加入基督教会继续保持信仰。因此，在主教的同意之下，我们就开始寻找可以接纳我们的本堂。很幸运地我们找到St Clare，当时的本堂神父Fr Rock同意接纳我们团体成为堂区的一员，我们就此定下直到现在。今天我的时间有限，无法详述我们这些年怎么度过的，我只想和大家分享我们圣荷西华人天主教会的愿景。按照2020年加州人口普查的统计，在我们教区范围内大约有廿万华人居住，他们大多数都受过良好的教育，也有好的职业。这些华人和他们在香港，台湾和中国的亲朋好友都常有密切来往。这些华人就是我们教会福传的对象，因此，我们的福传使命并不仅限于本地，透过和他们的接触，间接地我们也会影响到散居亚洲各地的亲戚朋好友。我们相信这样的福传工作对于各地的华人也有一定程度的影响。
Forty years have passed by so quickly. Here is the Valley Catholic newspaper dated September 1983. The headline article has the title “Chinese Seek Strong Church Ties”. The journalist Thomas Gradowski has interviewed me about our Chinese community. You could read this article about my perspective then, and compare it to what we have now. At that time, we only had 10+ families in the community, none of us could imagine what the future of this little bible study group would grow. Now 40 years have gone by; in the year of 1995 Fremont community spun off, and now it belongs to the Oakland Diocese, in the year of 2000, the San Mateo community also spun off, and now it belongs to the San Francisco Diocese. in 2013, Bishop McGrath elevated our community to Mission status.
Throughout the last 4 decades, we have developed many different ministries and educated our children, now they are taking over our role to continue this Mission. I can share a lot of stories about how this community evolved in the past 4 decades. It’s all by God’s grace. I still remember vividly in 1983 that we went to see Bishop Pierre Dumaine to ask his permission to form our San Jose Chinese Catholic community in his office located in St. Joseph Seminary, Los Altos, now Rancho San Antonio. The first question Bishop asked us was: why do you want to have your own ethnic community? Look at the Irish community, and Italian Catholic Federation, where are they now? I told him that being a Chinese Catholic coming to America, cultural adjustment has already hard enough for us, let’s alone keeping our Catholic faith in a local parish. There was no hospitality ministry toward Asian Catholics in any parish within the Diocese. In the meantime, there were numerous Chinese Protestant Churches welcoming us to join them. If we don’t have our ethnic community and use our language to conduct liturgy and sacraments, sooner or later, most of us will join them to continue our Christian faith. So, that was the starting point. When we started looking for a home for our community, Fortunately, Fr. Rock of St. Clare welcomed us to his parish. We stayed here ever since.
I don’t have time to share with you how we have gone through all those years. However, I do want to share with you our perspective of the San Jose Chinese Catholic Mission. According to the Census Bureau statistics in 2020, there were more than 200,000 Chinese living in Santa Clara County. They are all highly educated and their connections to China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan are very close. In other words, our mission will not just serve our community, we are focusing on the Chinese population who has not yet been evangelized in this Diocese. Through them, the influence and impact would be big.
Like a mustard seed, it could be small in the beginning, but if it is nourished right, it would grow big and even the birds might find a place to rest in its branches. The San Jose Chinese Catholic Mission might be small now, but we believe that God could use it as His instrument to benefit many overseas Chinese and draw them to God. We have witnessed God’s grace in the last 40 years, we have confidence that God will continue His work in our community to spread the Kingdom of God.
In the name of the whole Chinese Mission our gratitude to Bishop Cantu for his support, and our assurance that we will work together to support the New Pastoral Plan that he is preparing to announce for our Diocese of San Jose.
From the Cantonese Community, the speech of Clement Wong
Dear Fr. Ligot, Msgr. Cilia, Fr. Olivera, Fr. Angelbert, all the priests, religious sisters, and brothers, parishioners, families and friends, thank you for celebrating this joyful event with us today.
I am Clement Wong, the current Finance Chair of the Cantonese community. On behalf of the leadership team and our community, we want to sincerely thank a lot of people who have built this Chinese Catholic community to where we are today. Starting with Bishop Cantú, the diocese, and its staff for their invaluable support. Then Fr. Olivera, Fr. Angelbert, Msgr. Cilia, the late Bishop DuMaine, who approved the official founding of the groups; the late Bishop Emeritus McGrath, Msgr. Koo, Deacon Liao, countless other priests, all the previous leadership teams, and parishioners who gave so much to contribute to the success of this Chinese Catholic Mission.
Don’t take it lightly having the support from the Bishop and the diocese for setting up and running an ethnic group’s mission and its importance. Just 2 weeks ago, as an example, right after the Cantonese Mass and before the Mandarin Mass, I met a lovely couple: The husband is Caucasian and raised in Catholicism but not officially baptized. He wants his newlywed Chinese wife to learn more about the Catholic faith and Mass. They found out about our Mandarin Mass here and came. We had a great chat and I am glad to see them here today. Without SJCCM, encounters like this would not have happened. I live in Dublin and still come here. I serve in my local parishes too but there is just something about this Chinese community that draws us to come all the way down here like a magnet. It’s like for the Chinese people here who have been traveling for weeks or months without Chinese food, think about the moment when you are home and finally have a Chinese meal. Yummy! 狼吞虎咽的吃 It’s the home feeling. This Chinese Catholic Mission, is about us being “home” with fellow sisters and brothers who share in the same Catholic faith.
Now building and running such a community isn’t without challenges. Indeed. But like gold tested by fire, I believe that when everyone comes with joyful, loving, open, humble and forgiving hearts, when we focus on common ground rather than differences, when we live out on what God wants instead of what I, what we want, we can grow stronger together – not just stronger for each other within these walls, but the “home-coming” energy and drive to bring the Good News to folks outside these walls.
As we embark on another 40 years and many thereafter, with such grace and resources of a Chinese Catholic Mission the Lord has given us, we look forward to bringing more non-believers to become believers, helping parishioners deepen their faith and service, and reaching out to people inside and outside the church to cater to their needs. As we share in the Eucharist, the real presence of Jesus, let us seek to know the heart of Christ, see the face of Christ, and be the hands of Christ and keep bringing in talents and resources to help further the mission of this combined community as well as supporting our mission together with the diocese and our Mother Church.
From the English Community, the speech of Joanne Chao
Today, I am very happy to be here as a witness to the wonderful journey of faith, friendship, and growth that has unfolded within our SJCCM English community over these remarkable 40 years. My parents, 夏成铭 and 任小音, were part of the first generation of Chinese Catholic families who started this mission. I grew up within the walls of this Church, went to (and also dreaded) weekly CM (we called CCD back then), altar served and played piano like we make our children do today, and yes, also performed Christmas shows on the very same parish hall stage next door. It was also here that I forged enduring friendships, and received the wisdom and guidance of so many 叔叔s and 阿姨s, priests and young adults who dedicated themselves to my spiritual formation. Their influence helped shape my faith and, in many ways, continues to inspire me to follow in their path for others.
Two nights ago, connecting with many of my old Church friends at the Watermark 30-year reunion event reminded me of the profound impact our high school youth group had on my experience. It is humbling to recognize that I am now considered an “elder” among that group, and somewhat weird that the kids of kids I grew up with here are calling me “teacher Joanne”.
I remember a time, not too long ago when our English-speaking Chinese community faced an uncertain future. In a visioning workshop, we pondered if we’d even be here by 2020. But when I attend Sunday English Mass now, the pews are filling up again with young families and babies. The mustard seed has indeed grown!
As we celebrate these 40 years, I am filled with gratitude. Gratitude for all those who guided me in faith and community. Gratitude for the friends I met here that over decades have become family. And gratitude for the new generation of leaders working tirelessly to revitalize this Chinese English community, creating a vibrant and welcoming home for those seeking to raise their families in the faith, as well as those feeling the call to return.
Thank you Fr O for shepherding our community all these years, and Fr Ligot, for representing Bishop Cantù today in the ongoing support of our Chinese Catholic Mission. Please pray for us, that God’s will may be revealed and embraced in every aspect of our journey.