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Chinese Catholics gather in Boston

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WALTHAM—Archbishop Seán P. O’Malley joined Boston’s Chinese Catholic community in welcoming visitors from as far away as British Columbia at the 25th convention of the North America Chinese Clergy, Religious and Laity Nov. 10-13 at the Espousal Retreat Center.

“It is a joy and privilege to join you today,”said the archbishop in his remarks at the convention’s opening session.

Archbisop O’Malley said he had spent the majority of his priesthood serving the immigrant populations of Washington D.C., where he learned firsthand the challenges facing new Americans.

In his introduction of the archbishop, Peter Chan, the convention’s planning chair, told the more than 100 delegates that Archbishop O’Malley had studied languages and had earned his doctorate in Portugese.

“I suspect soon he will get a doctorate in Chinese literature,”he said.

Cupping his hands around his mouth, the archbishop, in a mock whisper, told Chan from the front row: “I was preparing for Macau.”

Chan recognized that the archbishop assumed the leadership of the Boston Archdiocese at a very tumultuous time.

“He came to us during our most difficult hours,”he said.

“Archbishop, your name is Seán. That stands for Save Our Ethnic Apostolates,”he continued.

“Now, I am happy that we are saved,”Chan said to the applause of the delegates.

Msgr. Joseph Chiang said he founded the NACCRL 25 years ago with two other priests, the late Father Michael Chu and the late Father Louis Chang. Chiang said originally the organization was meant for Chinese priests, but it soon merged with another group of Chinese laity.

Now retired, Msgr. Chiang said 15 years ago, exhausted from the burden of running the NACCRL, with members all over the United States and Canada, he considered shutting it down.

Now he is glad he kept with it, he said.

Having visited China earlier this year, Msgr. Chiang said the organization should prepare for the great challenge of helping the Church there, especially with the severe shortage of priests.

Despite the hardships imposed by the Communist party, Msgr. Chiang said he was convinced the Holy Father would visit China and effect a reconciliation between the official government Church in that nation and the underground free Church.

Chiang was joined at the convention by one of the original members of the organization, Bishop Ignatius Wang of the Archdiocese of San Francisco.

The NACCRL serves a very important function in the community, said Bishop Wang. “It is the link for all of the Chinese in North America,”he added.

Wang, the first Chinese bishop in America, celebrated Mass at the Friday session and stayed for the entire convention.

The overall theme for this year’s gathering was: “One Bread, One Body, One Family”with the special theme of “Sharing Resources,”said Laura Chan, the former chair of the Boston Chinese Catholic Community.

Workshops and breakout sessions during the convention were focused on members sharing lessons learned, developing action plans and planning the next year’s events, she said.

The 2004 convention was held in Seattle, said Lai Y. Young, the coordinator of the hospitality committee.

The preparations for the convention were a tough task for the local planning committee. noted committee member Alfred Chiu.

He said the work putting together this year’s convention began 12 months ago.

By the mid-September, the committee was meeting daily, he added, and by October, the members were calling each other every hour.

In the week before the gathering, Patrick Lam said he received 30 to 40 e-mails per day.

Getting the right information to all the right people was very time consuming, Chiu said.

“I am happy it is all done and to look back and see the effort was worth it,”he added.

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