A global church celebrates saints from everywhere. That’s why in recent years saints from Africa and Asia have been added to our church calendar. We see fulfilled in them the command of Jesus to his disciples to go “to all nations.” We are a Catholic Church.
On July 9th, we remember Saint Augustine Zhao Rong, Priest, and Companions, Martyrs from the church in China, who were canonized in October 2000. On November 24th we remember Saint Andrew Dung– Lac and 117 other Vietnamese martyrs killed in the 18th century in a cruel persecution of Christians They were canonized by Pope John Paul II in June 1988. On September 20th, we remember the martyrs of Korea. Saints Andrew Kim Tae-gŏn, Priest, and Paul Chŏng Ha-sang, and Companions, Martyrs. All together, 103 martyrs were canonized by Pope John Paul II on 6 May 1984 in Seoul, Korea.
These churches have remarkable histories. Take a look at the history of the church in China.
The recent feasts of the Asian churches celebrate, not only individual missionaries from elsewhere who brought the faith to these lands, but natives who accepted the gospel and died for their belief in it. The feasts recall centuries of missionary work that sowed the seeds of faith in these countries and the strong faith that blesses these churches now.
As our numbers decline in places like Europe and North America we should recognize the growth of our church elsewhere. “The harvest is great, “ Jesus told his first disciples. He tells us that today.
In our cemetery here in Jamaica, New York, we have a monument to a young Chinese priest, Fr. John Nien, who died in the Communist persecution of the church in the 1950s and graves of Passionist missionaries who served in Hunan China during that time. I put Fr. Nien’s monument at the beginning of this entry because he belongs among the martyrs of China.
They all promise a harvest to come.
We are surrounded by a “cloud of witneses” whose lives inspire us to “press on.” During my many visits to the Retreat House on the grounds of your monastery, I’ve walked among those graves. Truly, their names are written in the “Book of Life.”