Impressions of the Catholic Church in China

Impressions of the Catholic Church in China

John Melhuish mhm

I have just returned from staying for six months in Beijing with a community of Oblate Priests (OMI) who occupy two apartments in four story blocks. The community consists of an Italian – Giovanni, a Mauritian of Chinese parentage – Luc, and a young Madagascan – Johnnie. They made me very welcome.

Before getting my visa I had to write a statement saying I wouldn’t engage in religious activity. As a result we kept a low profile not acknowledging we were priests to strangers. My main activity was giving one to one classes to eight children aged between nine and fifteen and two adults. Most of them were very keen to learn English arriving early for class and wanting to stay beyond the allotted time. Because of the one child policy only one of the eight children I taught had a sibling. Until recently those who had more than one child were heavily fined. The lessons were supervised by a Chinese lady called, Sunny. Born in 1963 she told me that between 1966 and 1976, the period of the Cultural Revolution, the only schooling she got was to learn quotations from The Thoughts of Chairman Mao. Later however she worked for Siemens in Germany.

I was also helping three religious Sisters: Chinese, Italian and Argentinean improve their English. In October Giovanni asked me to give some lessons to a young Chinese man who wishes to join the Oblates. It was a very interesting experience for me especially during my visits to other cities outside Beijing.

John Melhuish mhm

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