Participants from China, Europe, Australia and the United States came together to join the 21st National Catholic China Conference in Seattle, Washington, for three days from June 24-26 this summer. It was the first time the U.S. Catholic China Bureau (USCCB) is hosting the conference in the Pacific Northwest.
Held in Seattle University, the conference highlights included presentations and discussions based on the ecumenical theme, “The Growth of Christianity in China: Realities, Challenges and Opportunities”.
Keynote speakers are Yale Professor of World Christianity, Lamin Sanneh, Sister Betty Ann Maheu, MM of the Hong Kong Diocese Holy Spirit Study Center, and Fr. Jeroom Heyndrickx, CICM of the Ferdinand Verbiest Institute of Lueven, Belgium.
In a press release, USCCB reported that the talks “helped to deepen understanding of Christianity in China and the role of the Church in contemporary Chinese society as China continues to play an increasingly important role in world affairs.”
Professor Sanneh focused on the recent “remarkable” growth of world Christianity while presentations by Sister Maheu and Fr. Heyndrickx recounted the growth and maturity of the Catholic Church through the years especially since the 1980’s reforms. Caroline Fielder of Churches Together in Britain and Ireland also shared personal experiences of how Protestant Christians are accountable for the rapid growth of Protestant churches in China.
Priests from China, Europe and the U.S. concelebrated with the principal celebrant of the closing liturgy, Reverend Ignatius Wang, Auxiliary Bishop of San Francisco and member of the USCCB Board of Directors. USCCB reported that local Seattle Chinese Catholic community “played a key role in preparing for the conference and the liturgy.”
In addition, the conference had a Chinese banquet and classical Chinese music presented by the Seattle Chinese Youth Orchestra and Chinese Arts and Music Association.
Schedule for the next National conference Catholic China Conference is set for November 3-5, 2006. Just as Caroline Fielder shared how Protestant Christians brought tremendous growth to the Protestant churches in China, the next conference will focus on the important role of the Chinese Catholic community outside of China – “as members of the Universal Church, can play in the shared mission of building up the local Church in China.”
Further information on the Church in China and the work of the Bureau is available on the USCCB website: http://www.usccb.net