.- Fr. Joseph of Jesus is a Chinese priest, faithful to the Catholic Church. Life is not easy for Catholics in China. Those who adhere to Rome are persecuted by the Chinese government, which only grants freedom of worship to those belonging to the state-controlled Patriotic Church.
Fr. Joseph recently shared his story on the “In the Footsteps of the Nazarene” program by the EUK Mamie Foundation, run by the Home of the Mother of Youth congregation of religious sisters.
His back faces the camera in the interview, and the precise details of his life in China, as well as his precise location – he is currently in Europe – are withheld for security reasons.
Fr. Joseph described what it was like growing up in a Catholic family in China. He is the third of five children, despite the rigid one-child policy instituted by the Chinese government.
“From time to time when the police would come into town, my parents had to go into hiding, away from us,” he said. “My older brother took care of us, we also had to hide everything we had in the house, because if the government discovered there was more than one child, they could take everything away from us.”
“Because they had more than one child, some Catholic parents had their houses destroyed and they were left with nothing,” the priest said.
“It was a test of faith, because as a child you don’t understand why it is that because you’re Catholic you have to live on less food and be separated from your parents,” he said.
However, he still persevered in his faith. His brother is also a Catholic priest.
The Catholic faith was maintained through “the domestic Church,” with families praying Lauds or Vespers secretly, and especially the Rosary.
“The Rosary is what gave us the strength for years because we didn’t have the sacraments or priests; but the faithful prayed every day at least one Rosary in the early morning and another one at night,” and at the end they said a “prayer to Our Lady of Fatima who gave us the strength to live as true Christians,” he recounted.
At age 15, Fr. Joseph felt that he was being called to the priesthood.
“I was thinking that in China there are a lot of people who don’t know Christ and the Catholic Church because we Christians are a minority,” he said. “So I thought that when I finished my studies I would go to the seminary and become a priest. That moment changed my life because I saw what the Lord wanted for me.”
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