The Chinese Catholic Community was founded by the MIC sisters to provide pastoral care to the Chinese Students studying at Ottawa’s universities in 1955. It was officially established on Oct. 11. Since then, weekly Sunday Masses have been celebrated at different venues. The Community was affiliated with a number of churches through the years. In 1984, the Community was relocated to then Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church in Chinatown. In December 1991, it was relocated to Assumption Church; in August 2006, the Community moved to the Diocesan Centre for its Sunday Masses in the Chapel. In 2007, the Archdiocese designated it as Sheng Shen Catholic Community.
Shortly after the Community had been relocated to Our Lady of Perpetual Help, it was changed from an "association" to a "parochial structure." Pastoral and Financial Councils were formed in accordance with diocesan regulations. Members were able to obtain tax receipts for their Sunday donation. Annual financial reports were filed with the diocese, donation revenues were contributed to the diocesan loan fund. Throughout the course of time, the Community has maintained a steady number of families of around 70-100, though there is ongoing turnover of people. Some families decided to worship in a local church nearby, especially when their children reach teenage years. Others return to the community once their children grow up and leave home. Not having its own premise is an obstacle to fostering a sense of belonging for many people. During the last few years, after Deacon Peter Fan served as Pastoral Co-ordinator, in conjunction with my ongoing presence, the community is able to obtain steady leadership.
Our Pastoral activities include forming leaders in liturgical, catechetical and social action. We recognize that the initiation of new Catholics is the responsibility of all the baptized in the community, and form a welcoming Christian Community by its outreach and social action. As a national parish where the estimated over 50,000 ethnic Chinese in the region are not yet Christians, the parish considers evangelization as its raison d’etre. The goal of its presence is not merely to provide pastoral care for Chinese Catholics in Ottawa, but to reach out to those who express spiritual thirst and seek meaning and direction in life. The recent influx of immigrants from mainland China reflects such necessity. We hope to collaborate with organizations which provide for new immigrants and others who seek to improve their lives. I firmly believe that Sheng Shen Catholic Church provides a vital step in the process of their integration into Canadian Society.
People will see their parish as the center of their social, cultural and spiritual life, especially for new immigrants and many who are attracted to the Christian faith. The Community can facilitate classes to assist those who seek to learn and improve their ability to speak English or French, it also helps those who are in distress, or are having difficulty adjusting to life as new immigrants. We continue to encourage parishioners to deepen their faith by attending parochial and diocesan workshops.
As for community activities, since members are spread out across the city, we currently have five Basic Christian Communities which render mutual support, both spiritually and emotionally to members, thus enhancing their growth in faith; while fostering a caring bondage. Our choirs have provided choral singing at community events and retirement homes. We also organize festive celebrations during cultural festivals such as dragon-boat, Mid-autumn, Chinese New Year, in maintaining the Chinese tradition and heritage.
On this very special occasion on October 3, 2010, 55 years after its foundation, as we celebrate Mass in Sheng Shen church for the first time, may we all rejoice that the Holy Spirit has led us all together to help cultivate God’s vineyard in this community.
Fr. Bosco Wong
October 3, 2010.