PROPAGATION OF FAITH
OFFICIAL MAKES 52 000 MILE TRIP AND REPORTS FINANCIAL STATE OF MISSIONS IN THE ORIENT DEPLORABLE (By N.C.W.C. News Service).
Washington, Dec 14.—Lack of catehists is preventing large mass conversions to the Catholic Church in Missions jf the Orient, the Rev. James Troy, Field Secretary of the Pontifical Society for the Propagation of the Faith, revealed in an interview given here this week. Father Troy has just returned from a year's tour of Missions in the Orient, in the course of which he traveled 52,000 miles.
The purpose of Father Troy's tour was to acquire first-hand information concerning the position of the Missions, and he will tell of his experiences in a series of .lectures he plans to give throughout the United States. He found the Missions in desperate want of financial aid, he said.
Father Troy travelled 15,000 miles in visiting the Missions in India, his first stop. He found mass conversion movements in many places, especially in aboriginal territory, he said. He spoke particularly of this movement in the areas served by American Jesuits in Patna, by the American Holy Cross Fathers in Dacca, and bf the Belgian Jesuits of Chota Nagpur. Among the Hindus some 50,000 in the Diocese of Nelore have applied for catechists to instruct them in the Catholic Faith, Father Troy said.
STAFF OF CATECHISTS.
So impressive is the fact that the lack catechists is preventing large group conversions, Father Troy said, that it may be set down as an axiom that where yea have a strong cateehist movement there you have a strong conversion movement, and that the presence or absence of large group conversions is directly related to the presence or absence of an adequate staff of catechists. He found this same axiom to apply throughout all of the Orient, he added.
In a rewote district of Chota Nagpur, where he spent some time, Father Troy said, tigers and leopards could be heard throughout the nights, roaring in the jungles surrounding the mission. Father Julius, an Indian priest in charge of the mission, had shot ten tigers and a large number of leopards at the time of his arrival, and only a week before a tiger had come into Father Julius' hut and made off with his dog, Father Troy said. On another occasion, Father Julius was interrupted in the celebration of Mass, when a krait, most venomous of India's snake's was discovered coiled on the altar.
At another mission which he visited, Father Troy continued, the missionary bad killed three cobras in a week, and a fourth was killed within the confines of tjbe compound the night of his arrival. Christians throughout India are very 4evout in the practice of their religion, the priest said.
PEOPLE EXTREMELY POOR.
Father Troy went from India to Burma, to the Malay States, to China, pending five months in the interior of the last-named country, and travelling miles -there. On the missions which he visited in China, Father Trey declared, he found that the ordinary difficulties of a missionary are there added to by the extreme poverty of the people, the total lack of hygienic facilities, famine and recurring floods, and continued strife. Different dialects in different parts of the country and taxation also add to the heavy cares of the missionary, he said, pointing out that the cheapest bottle of altar wine, purchased for 25 cents in Canton, costs $1.25 when it arrives at Kanchow, because of the taxes that have been imposed. Father Troy told of visiting the mission of the famous Father George Erbe, American Vincentian, where a strong conversion movement is in evidence, largely through the work of Father Erbe. Among Father Erb's converts at Ta-ho- Li, said Father Troy, is a former Communist who took part in the slaying of a Salesian missionary, and who himself cut out the missionary's heart and ate it. A woman convert there was formerly head of the divorce court in the Chinese Chiangsi Soviet, he added.
One of the_ most impressive things of his entire tour Rather Troy said, was his visit to Bishop John O'Shea, CM., Vicar Apostolic of Kanchow. This visit grew out of Father Troy's meeting with Father Daniel McGillicuddy, another Vincentian, who told him that no white man except the missionaries had gone up to Kanchow from Canton for six years, and that Bishop O'Shea had not been out of Kanchow for that length of time. It took him nearly two months to go to Kanchow and return, traveling by a none too inviting railroad, sampan, muleback, and a chair carried by four native porters. Most of the journey was made by chair, and for long periods at a time his life pas constantly in danger, because of the perilous route traversed.
TROOPS SLAY LEPERS.
In the Province of Kiangsi, Father Troy said, the military authorities issued a proclamation in which all the lepers in the vicinity were invited to assemble at a point outside Kanchow, where, it was promised, food and clothing would be supplied them. When several hundred lepers had assembled at the appointed place, troops turned machine guns on them, killing them all, and tossing their bodies into a pit.
Observations at missions conducted by American Maryknoll Fathers in China only served to confirm his conviction concerning the importance of catechists to mass conversion movements. It is clear, Father Troy said, that only the lack of a sufficient number of catechists is depriving the Maryknoll Fathers of a large number of conversions in the Prefecture of Woochow.
To illustrate the straightened financial circumstances Of missionaries in the Orient, Father Troy cited the example of a priest of the Society of St. Columbans for Missions in China, whose station is the parish of Tsan Dan Kow. This priest, his assistant and his catechists instructed 980 adults whom they baptized « last year conducted 20 small schools throughout the whole mission district, and carried on the numerous other activities of th-if parish on the sum of $700 for the year, which was all their Bishop could make available to them.
- Malaya Catholic Leader, January 19th, 1935 (1935.pdf pp28)