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ORDINATION CAPS 40-YEAR ´TRIAL OF FAITH´ FOR SHANGHAI-BORN JESUIT

Updated: January 20, 1994 05:00 PM GMT
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Jesuit Father Matthew Chu Li-teh (Zhu Lide), 60, who regards his decades of imprisonment in mainland China as a "trial of faith," was ordained here Jan. 9, some 40 years after becoming a seminarian in China.

After entering the seminary in his native Shanghai, he was arrested along with Cardinal Ignatius Gong Pinmei, then bishop of Shanghai, and other Catholics in 1955. They were charged with organizing the Legion of Mary and opposing the Catholic patriotic movement.

Father Chu spent 23 years in jail before being released in 1979. Not until 1988, however, was he allowed to leave China. That year he accompanied the ailing Cardinal Gong to the United States for medical treatment.

In 1989, the former seminarian applied to the Society of Jesus. He was accepted and made his novitiate and studied theology in Taiwan.

At his ordination at the Holy Family Church here, Father Chu said the day had been arranged by God after all the hardships over the past decades.

His mother, who traveled from Shanghai, brothers and relatives from the United States and about 500 other Catholics attended the Mass.

Father Chu told UCA News that he thanks God for his priesthood after having been imprisoned so long in Anhui and Jiangsu provinces, eastern China, and for the peaceful reunion of his family after 40 years.

Monsignor Juliusz Janusz, charge d´affaires at the Taipei-based Apostolic Nunciature in China, conveyed a special papal blessing to him at the ceremony.

The Holy See representative called the Chu family "saints," noting that four of the eight sons are priests, all Jesuits. Father Chu is the fifth son in the family, and the other three priests are all his elder brothers.

The eldest, Father Francis Xavier Chu Shu-teh (Zhu Shude), died in prison in China in 1983 after 30 years´ imprisonment. Some Chinese Catholics recognize him as a martyr. Father Chu Yu-teh was also jailed for over 30 years. Father Michael Chu Li-teh, a former Jesuit provincial here, is still in Taiwan.

Jesuit Provincial Father Aloysius Chang Chun-shen thanked Father Chu´s mother for offering four of her sons to the Society of Jesus, adding that the society will love the new priest as she does.

Archbishop Joseph Ti-Kang of Taipei, who presided at the Mass concelebrated by about 100 bishops and priests, mostly Jesuits, also praised 93-year-old Chu Ting-ting and hoped her family might serve as a model for new vocations.

The elderly woman sat calmly in her wheelchair throughout the Mass and applause from the congregation, sometimes nodding her head and always holding the rosary in her hands. She also vested her son with the liturgical garb.

After the new priest gave his mother his first blessing, he knelt to receive hers.

Father Chu said he will stay at the faculty of theology of Fu Jen Catholic University in Hsinchuang, near Taipei, for further studies until July.

Asked if he had considered returning to China as a missioner, he said, "At the moment it´s impossible, but I´m ready to return as soon as freedom of religion is established."

END

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