Catholic Vancouver July 5, 2018

Calligraphy, dance part of Catholic response to Chinese newcomers

By Agnieszka Ruck

Lunar New Year celebration at Holy Name of Jesus Parish in Vancouver. (Photos courtesy Father Paul Chu)

This is the second article in a mini-series on Chinese Ministry.

As the number of Chinese newcomers continues to climb in the Lower Mainland, Catholic parishes are finding innovative new ways to welcome them.

St. Francis Xavier and Canadian Martyrs, for example, have started offering free calligraphy, dance, language, and photography classes.

“These things are not religious, but we offer the opportunity for them to come together in the church,” said Father Paul Chu, head of the archdiocese’s Chinese Ministry. “They know the Church cares for them.”

In all, six parishes offer programs and Masses in Cantonese or Mandarin for people of Chinese origin, the largest visible minority group in the Lower Mainland.

St. Francis Xavier Church, established in Vancouver’s Chinatown in 1933, has been around the longest. St. Theresa’s Parish has been serving Chinese Catholics in Burnaby since 1977, and Corpus Christi Parish in Vancouver began offering Masses in Cantonese in 1994.

One year later, Canadian Martyrs in Richmond started hosting Masses and social events in Cantonese and Mandarin. Chinese Catholics in the Tri-Cities area have been served since Our Lady of Fatima began offering Sunday afternoon Masses in Cantonese in 2007.

And as of last year, St. John the Apostle has been running programs for Chinese Catholics in Vancouver’s west side. Father Anthony Ho said the need is there, and interest has been steadily increasing.

“In the first few months, I think there were around 40-50 people,” and now up to 70 show up for Mass in Cantonese. When he started a private faith study, about two dozen people started coming out, and another 30-50 come to his monthly mini-retreats.

It’s significant, considering the relatively small size of the parish: about 400 people attend weekly Mass, and a total of about 100 of them come to one of the various faith formation programs.

“There’s a good response,” said Father Ho. “In our parish, both for the English and Chinese language, we are big in spiritual formation.”

More on other ministries and groups here.


Masses offered in Cantonese:


4:00 St. John the Apostle Parish


8:00 St. Francis Xavier

8:15 Canadian Martyrs

9:30 St. Francis Xavier

10:00 Canadian Martyrs

2:30 Our Lady of Fatima (Coquitlam)

3:00 Corpus Christi

Masses offered in Mandarin:


5:00 Canadian Martyrs

5:30 St. Francis Xavier


12:00 St. Theresa’s (only second and fourth Sundays of the month)

4:30 St. Francis Xavier

Mass on the World Day of Prayer for the Church in China.