The staff of Salt + Light Media come from 14 different countries. This summer, for Canada's 150th anniversary, we are reflecting on what makes Canada so special to each of us. Here Billy Chan, Webmaster, reflects on the history of the Chinese Canadian Catholic Church.
Canada 150, Montreal 375, Quebec City 409... These are dates for us to remember our roots, celebrate our successes and give thanks to our ancestors. My mother always reminds me on my birthday that she suffered for more than ten hours when she gave birth to me. Those ten hours were probably the most memorable moments in her life. Voilà, I came into this world.
Recently, the word Pro-Life seem to be appearing more and more on the news. People often relate it to abortion, euthanasia or birth control. Actually, for Catholics, all the topics that can be linked to the protection of life should be a Pro-Life issue. For example, traffic regulations were created because we wanted to guard life; therefore, it is also a Pro-Life topic.
I definitely feel that God created Canada, Montreal, Quebec City, my parents, Salt and Light TV, and all the things around me because He loves me; of course, not only me but all lives, because He is Pro-Life!
A LITTLE HISTORY OF THE BIRTH OF A COMMUNITY
2017 is not only a time to celebrate Canada 150, it also a time to celebrate the 100th anniversary of my home parish – Montreal Chinese Catholic Mission. According to an unpublished manuscript of the late Fr. Eugene Berichon, the Chinese people were in Montreal even earlier, in 1863. In 1902, a devoted English Priest, Fr. Martin Gallagham, at his retirement, played his violin for his Chinese audience, gathered at the corner of Montreal Chinatown. In two years he baptized 58 Chinese, as recorded in the Baptism register of St. Patrick Basilica.They were all male between the ages of 18 to 49.
On July 1, 1917 Romeo Caille was ordained a priest at the chapel of Missionary Sisters of the Immaculate Conception motherhouse, and many Chinese leaders were invited to his ceremony. Right after the ordination, Fr. Caille was nominated as Desservant, responsible for the Chinese community by the archbishop. The mission of Montreal Chinese Catholic Community took off from here.
Fr. Thomas Tou – The first Chinese priest in Canada to serve the Chinese community
By God’s Providence in 1956, the Archbishop of Montreal, P. E. Leger, went to Rome asking for a Chinese priest. At that time, Fr. Thomas Tou had just completed his thesis and was waiting to go back to China. Consequently, his name was given to the Congregation of Propaganda Fide. The intention was that one day China would be free, and then he could go serve in China immediately. (In 1949, the Chinese government advocated atheism and many of the missionaries in China were arrested, imprisoned, and then deported.
) Rome then sent Fr. Thomas Tou to Canada. He became the first Chinese priest sent from Rome to serve the Chinese community in Canada.
90 something years later, Billy Chan, me, joined the community and served there for ten years as a youth leader. I learned a lot in this community spiritually. July 1, 2017, Montreal Chinese Catholic Mission, the official name of the community, celebrated their 100th anniversary. Fr. Thomas Tou, 95 years old, came to the party as well.
When I look back, God prepared a peaceful country for me to live in, prepared the whole community to help me grow in my faith, created good parents and much more even before I was born. Thank you, God. I would also want to thank our Pope Gregory XIII who created the Gregorian calendar. Because of him, we can continue celebrating important dates in order to remember our roots and give thanks to God. Happy Canada 150, Happy MCCM 100!
For more information on Montreal Chinese Catholic Mission: montrealchinesecatholic.ca
Billy Chan, a former radio host and motivational speaker, spent the past ten years working with youth in Montreal. He enjoys using humor to illustrate his relationship with God. In his blog, you will find reflections on his experience with youth ministry and his special way of working with youth today.