Mainland China priest leaps at chance at Perth chaplaincy

25 Mar 2009

By The Record

The newly-arrived chaplain for the Chinese Catholic Community, Fr Wang Hai Bo, lived as a child in a village where most of the people are Catholics and always wanted to be a priest.

Fr Wang Hai Bo

Fr Wang arrived from Jailin Diocese in the province of the same name north-east of Beijing on February 26 with a four-year visa to work in Australia.
He said that his grandmother on his father’s side led the family in prayer twice a day, with special emphasis on evening prayer.
His mother’s brother and his own elder brother went to the seminary and became priests, and as a boy he accompanied the local priest as an altar server.
“Becoming a priest seemed like good work to do,” he said.
One of his strongest childhood memories was preparing a long stool on which he would pretend to say Mass. Many of his young friends used to ask him to bless their toys. In due course he went to the seminary and was ordained in September 1999.
He was particularly happy to be invited to WA because he wanted to learn how to go about pastoral work in a multi-cultural community like Australia, experience which would help him in China.
He was proud that as a Chinese priest he could serve Chinese Catholics overseas.
Fr Wang was chosen by the Chinese Catholic Community after a lengthy selection process involving the Church in China and eventually the approval of Archbishop Hickey.
The chairman of the community, Mr William Suseno, said that the CCC invited applications from priests in various dioceses interested in the appointment.
There were eight, and each one had to have a letter from his bishop saying, among other things, that he would be free to take up the appointment.
A member of the CCC executive, Mr Peter Hoe, had gone to China at his own expense to initiate the evaluation process.
The former chaplain, Fr Dominic Su, SDS, also had contact with Fr Wang, and finally a former chairman of the community, Mr Augustin Li, went to see the Bishop of Jailin, Bishop Tamasus Zhang Han Min.
Fr Wang had applied for the post in April 2008, obtained his visa in January 2009, and arrived in Perth on February 26.
For his first two weeks he concelebrated the Chinese Mass with Fr Chuang, SDS, who is studying in Perth, and was the main celebrant for the first time last Sunday.
The Chinese Community celebrates Mass at the Holy Family Church, Como, at 4pm every Sunday.
Mr Suseno is an Indonesian-born Chinese (his Chinese name is Xue Lai Gui). Between 2000 and 2003 when he was chairman of the Indonesian Catholic Community he made the arrangements for it to become an Association of Christ’s Faithful.
Subsequently, he was invited to do the same work for the Chinese Catholic Community.
As well as their social and other work for their own people, both communities regularly present candidates and catechumens for admission to the Church at Easter at the end of the RCIA program.