There are more than two million Chinese in America. This number increases very quickly each year. Before, most of the Chinese immigrants came from Taiwan or Hong Kong. Now, most of the immigrants come from China—especially Fujian Province. A large number of these are Catholics fleeing China's forced sterilization and one child policies.
There are approximately 35 Chinese priests in America, 7 seminarians, 70 religious sisters, 13 religious brothers, and 7 deacons. The Catholic population of Chinese in America is estimated at 340,000, but the true figure is believed to be more because many Chinese Catholics are not registered.
Chinese Catholics who arrive here often do not understand the administrative practices of American parishes. In general, the American Church is an administrative Church—the Chinese Church is a mission Church. People do not have the practice of registering in parishes in China. As a result, the Chinese often fail to register here. When it comes time for a marriage or baptism, American parishes often refuse to service the people who are not registered and some then would seek out other Christian churches.
Also, because of years of persecution and turmoil in China, baptismal records cannot be attained. Normally, any Chinese who professes to be a baptized Catholic should be believed.
Many seminarians from China arrive here to prepare for the Priesthood. They have special needs and problems. Most do not know English well and need special assistance with English as a second language. They also suffer a culture shock especially by the great materialism of American society and the tremendous freedom available. American attitudes are radically different from the Chinese. Another difficulty is western spirituality. It is quite unlike Chinese spirituality, making it difficult for a seminarian to find a suitable director. This retards his spiritual growth and further isolates him. Seminarians from China, like American seminarians, also want to do pastoral work, but often American Chinese Catholics do not trust the seminarians' orthodoxy due to his connection with the Chinese Patriotic Church.
The conflict between the co-called Chinese Patriotic Church and underground Church in China is very painful for everyone. Within China, people seem to understand the need for reconciliation. Outside China, people should pray and encourage this reconciliation and leave the process for the Vatican and Chinese people to settle. Many business people arrive from China and although not Catholic, trust the Church. They are often well received by Catholic communities here. Upon return to China, these important people have a better and kinder disposition toward the Catholic Church in China.
Seminarians in China need theology and philosophy text books. Many American seminaries and parishes have been generous to donate such books and assist with financial support.
Although the number of Chinese priests in America is not adequate to serve all our Chinese communities, there is good news concerning a seminary of San Lorenzo Mission Institute, which is located in Manila, Philippines. His Eminence Jaime L. Cardinal Sin, Archbishop of Mania, said that in this seminary they prepare young seminarians to be priests so that they can send them to the Mission for the needs of the Chinese apostolate, not only in the Philippines but also throughout the wold. Cardinal Sin is willing to help the United States and Canada. Several newly ordained priests will be arriving in America.
The first Chinese bishop in the United States, Most Rev. Ignatius Chung Wang, was ordained Bishop on January 30, 2003. He is currently the Auxiliary Bishop of San Francisco.
Parishes which serve Chinese will usually have the Liturgy in Cantonese, Mandarin and more so now, Fujian but as Chinese—especially the youth, quickly adjust to American society, it is also necessary to provide the Liturgy in English.
There are many religious books, tapes and videos available in Chinese that can be obtained from:
The Catholic Center
16/F Grand Building
15-18 Connaught Road, Central
and further materials and information can be obtained from:
Rev. Joseph Chiang
Holy Rosary Church
344 6th Street
Jersey City, NJ 07302
phone: 201-795-0120 or 201-795-0837