Local

Boston Chinese Catholics reach out through music

byMeghan No Pilot Correspondent
8/8/2008

Members of the Chinese group The Friends of Jesus Passover perform Aug. 2 at St. James the Greater Church in Bostons Chinatown. Pilot photo/ Courtesy Peter Lei

CHINATOWN -- The Boston Catholic Chinese Community (BCCC) finds spiritual strength in its shared heritage and background, but its members realize that faith must be shared and have begun reaching out to the community. On Aug. 2, the BCCC hosted an evangelization concert featuring The Friends of Jesus Passover (FJOP), a Catholic singing group that flew in from China to perform.

The concert, which was held at the communitys home parish of St. James the Greater in Chinatown, attracted more than 700 people. Every Catholic was encouraged to bring a non-Christian friend or relative to the event.

We are excited that we have a wonderful community, but we want to reach out and bring the good news to those who have not known God and so this year we have done a number of things including inviting priests from other cities to talk about how to do better evangelization, and our efforts culminate in this concert, explained Peter Chan, a member of the BCCC, which was established 41 years ago. Members of the BCCC come from all over Boston and from outside the city as well, including Malden, Quincy, Lexington, Brockton and towns along the New Hampshire border. There are about 500 registered families and the primary language is Cantonese.

Chan explained that earlier in the year the BCCC was approached by members of The FJOP--a group composed of approximately 25 Chinese young people--to host the concert and provide meals and accommodations while the group is in Boston. He said that members of the community were excited because The FJOP is a well-known group in the Chinese community.

The FJOP was started by Father John Giampietro, an Italian missionary priest who has been doing missionary work in China, primarily Hong Kong, for the past 50 years. For the last 10 years Father Giampietro has taken the group on tour to major cities around the world. The FJOP visits five or six cities during every tour; this year they will perform in Honolulu, Los Angeles, Boston and Winnipeg and Emmington in Canada.

The theme of the concert was Moments of Light and was focused on sharing faith through songs and prayer. The FJOP provided the bulk of the performance, with St. James the Greater parishioners performing short skits, leading prayers and giving testimonies on how their lives have been changed by God.

Father Giampietro explained that in Chinese the theme literally means that the floating lotus plants in a pond move around and separate and then come together again. The theme is a beautiful Chinese saying that the water plants come together and they part and this is a plan of God, explained Father Giampietro. In these moments when we are united accidentally, God will give us the gift of faith because faith comes from meeting a person or talking to someone who is a Christian.

These moments of light are always happening, he continued. We come from all over the world and we meet accidentally, but this concert is a moment of light for all of us to pray together and receive this gift of faith.

The theme was powerful, said Chan, because as individual believers we strive to have holiness in our life, but that is not enough. We need to be brothers and sisters to each other, he continued. This theme resonates with us and is in communion with the love of God. We are always trying to renew ourselves and having this event is one way to continuously renew our faith community.