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Our Chinese Programming: Sign of a New Pentecost

  

Salt and Light Chinese team
Bosco Chan (left) and Rodney Leung (right)

When I first met with a team of young, Chinese Catholics in 2004 to discuss the possibility of producing television programming for the Chinese Catholic Community in Canada, I could have never imagined what would come from that meeting!  One year later, that small group suggested a series called Fountain of Love and Life, the first Chinese language programming on Salt + Light.  Salt + Light hired some of the group to start the Chinese language division, also called Fountain of Love and Life in the beginning.  In reality it was always the Chinese department of Salt and Light Television!

Because we dared to dream big, God has blessed our efforts in no small way over the past eight years. Our subsequent close collaboration with the Hong Kong Audiovisual Centre, with the encouragement of the great Cardinal Joseph Zen, SDB, from Hong Kong, Chinese pastors from Canada and elsewhere, and subsequent collaboration with the Vatican‚s Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples and now Vatican Radio, the Lord has allowed us to do some wonderful things for the Chinese Catholic community.

In December 2011 during the Advent season, we decided to launch the popular 5-minute Perspectives in Chinese language. The Chinese version of Perspectives has the same objectives and style as its English counterpart: to bring the news and current events of the Universal Church to the S+L audience. The only difference with Perspectives in Chinese is obviously the language (first in Cantonese only and later in both Cantonese and Mandarin Chinese), and the addition of news related to Church in China.

After a month of preparation work, the first episode was launched on January 18, 2012 on S+L TV channel and broadcasted nation-wide. It was a very exciting moment for all of us.  Since then, Perspectives in Chinese has become a regular weekly show of 5-minutes. It covers the news events at the Vatican, in the Church in Canada especially events related the Chinese Catholics, and the Church in China. In early April 2012, the Mandarin version of Perspectives in Chinese was launched in order to address the Mandarin speaking audience in Canada and abroad. Both versions are produced on weekly basis and broadcasted on S+L TV channel nation-wide.

On July 7, 2012, Bishop Ma Daqin of Shanghai, China was ordained as the auxiliary bishop of Shanghai with both papal appointment and government approval. At the end of the ordination mass, Bishop Ma declared he will resign his official position with the government sanctioned Catholic Patriotic Association, which was not recognized by the Vatican as an official Church organization. Bishop Ma was immediately being detained. The event of Bishop Ma‚s ordination, his declaration to resign his official role, as well as the brief history of the Catholic Church in China since 1949 was extensively covered in a one-hour special ‘2012 Special Coverage Shanghai Bishop Ordination’ and was aired on S+L TV in early August.

Up until January 2013, all of the Perspectives in Chinese and 2012 Special Coverage Shanghai Bishop Ordination were produced by a few volunteers with theological and TV production background. In Dec 2012, S+L decided to hire a full-time Chinese producer stationed in the Richmond St E head office and continue to produce more Chinese programming in order to address the increasing needs of Chinese Catholics in Canada as well as around the world. Rodney Leung was hired to fill the position. Rodney came from WowTV, a Toronto based Chinese language TV station with years of experience in TV production, TV host, editing and filming.  His presence among us has been a blessing!  He was well trained by the Salesian Fathers and Sisters in Hong Kong and remains close to that community here in Canada.

Since January 2013, S+L has expanded its presence on web-based channels as well as continuing Chinese broadcasting on S+L TV channel. First the ‘Chinese’ sub-page on the saltandlighttv.org was launched.  The page is filled with information from the Vatican, teachings from the Holy Father, and all other news related to the Universal Church. Then, the Youtube channel was also launched. All the current and previous episodes of S+L Chinese production are available on line for audience. Shortly thereafter, the facebook page was launched. The facebook page has attracted viewers and followers around the Globe. As of the first week in May 2013, the facebook page has reached close to 30,000 users and 500 ‘Likes’ in less than 4 short months since launch.  This is nothing small!

Regarding the TV production that S+L put on the Internet, the viewership has achieved quite a few milestones. The two most popular shows that S+L ever produced in Chinese since 2012 was the first Vatican Connection in Chinese and the ‘2012 Special Coverage Shanghai Bishop Ordination’. The Vatican Connection in Chinese is a one-hour special coverage on Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI‚s resignation, and the following Conclave which elected Pope Francis. In addition to the TV viewership, the viewership on the S+L youtube channel was over 1,000. This is not as significant comparing to the viewership on Catholic website in Mainland China. In March 2013, S+L Chinese production was referenced by Catholic websites in China, Hongkong, and Taiwan unsolicited. They re-broadcasted S+L production on their website or linked to S+L for their audience to see S+L production in Chinese.  The Vatican Connection in Chinese achieved over 12,000 views in less than a month.  The 2012 Special Coverage Shanghai Bishop Ordination achieved over 5,000 views in less than a month as well. Since Mar 2013, a few of high traffic Catholic news agency websites, including the Union of Catholic Asians (UCA) News in Taiwan, regularly promote the weekly Perspectives in Chinese on their websites.

In addition to have created a broad base of viewership in Canada and abroad (most significantly in Hongkong, Taiwan and Mainland China), S+L has established important peer relationship with major Chinese Catholic media agencies. The UCA News which is operated by the Jesuits in Taiwan, The Vatican Radio’s Chinese division, and the Hong Kong Diocesan Audio-Visual Centre are among those cooperatives.

The future of the S+L Chinese programming division is going to be more diverse. In addition to continuing the production of the weekly Perspectives in Chinese and the Vatican Connection in Chinese, there are plans to translate many award-winning S+L English productions into Chinese and acquiring great productions from peer media agencies in order to bring a more fruitful Catholic TV experience to the audience.


On December 21, 2012, Fr. Thomas Rosica presented the second Lover of Life Award to Bosco Chan.

I am very grateful to those initial volunteers who assisted us, to by Basilian confrères Fr. Daniel Chui and Andrew Leung who helped guide them in those first months and years, and to many people throughout the world who now know Salt and Light Television through our Chinese programming.

At both the Synod on the New Evangelization last October at the Vatican, and during the recent, momentous Papal Transition in Rome, many people spoke to me about our Chinese programming, particular the excellent news pieces on the Perspectives in Cantonese and Mandarin.  From our small studios and operation in Canada, the word has gone out to the ends of the earth.  We have been informed that some of our programming has reached Mainland China.  Many Catholics in Canada and the United States have discovered the richness and beauty of the Chinese community through our Chinese programming.  This is cause for rejoicing and gratitude to God.

We are now at a critical crossroads of our Chinese Catholic Television programming and outreach. What we are doing here in Canada as part of the New Evangelization of our country and faith will be of tremendous benefit to hundreds of thousands of women and men in China who are about to enter into a new era in their country. The walls of separation and division are slowly falling before our very eyes and the immense potential for the first Evangelization of China is about to begin. We are part of that exciting, missionary process.  This effort will only be possible with your continued generosity. Television broadcasting is very expensive and we do our best to keep the costs low and the quality of production very high.

Together may we follow the courage and example of Fr Matteo Ricci and the Chinese Saints and martyrs by remaining strong in faith, hope and love, by overcoming fear and hardship and sacrifice, and by boldly proclaiming our faith in Jesus Christ and our love of the Church.

Some of the many links to Chinese Activities on our network and website:

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