Wednesday, October 13, 2010
ASIA: CHINA: DEATH OF MISSIONARY BENEDICTINE: AB. TIM KELLY
UCAN REPORT - Catholics in mainland China are mourning the loss of a Benedictine monk and friend who they say contributed to theology and seminary education in the country.
Abbot Timothy Kelly, who seven months ago was diagnosed with cancer of the esophagus, died on Oct. 7. He was 76 . His funeral was held on Oct. 13 at his Benedictine order’s St. John’s Abbey in the United States.
“All major seminaries have held requiem Masses for a great friend of the China Church,” said Sister Yu Chunjing, coordinator of a translation project supported by Abbot Kelly to response to China’s lack of theology books.
Abbot Kelly helped establish the Fund for Theological Translation for the project, which is a grant program of the US Catholic China Bureau. The project is coordinated by the Shijiazhuang-based Faith Institute for Cultural Studies in Hebei province, northern China.
He also co-founded the Benedictine Commission for China, mandated by the Abbots’ Congress in 1996. The commission met yearly to discuss apostolic service to China.
“He never stopped thinking about ways to assist the Church due to his love for the Chinese,” said Abbot John Klassen of St. John’s Abbey. Abbot Kelly, who was based in Minnesota, United States, often visited China.
Father John Chen Binshan recalled Abbot Kelly’s concern about the China Church’s publication and seminary education. “He had persuaded US publishers to donate books to China’s major seminaries,” said the dean of studies of the National Seminary in Beijing.
Others who knew Abbot Kelly recalled him saying that the split of the China Church “had no easy answer” and that his order’s duty was to “promote reconciliation, not to condemn due to lack of understanding.”
In the US, Abbot Kelly did a lot of work to help American Catholics understand China better.
He also began the Benedictine order’s cooperation with the Maryknoll congregation in accepting mainland priests, nuns and seminarians to study at the Benedictine-run St. John’s University.
Father Anthony Yao Shun of Jining (Wumeng), who studied there in 1996, recalled Abbot Kelly as an “easygoing, humble and holy man” and was “my model as a priest.”