Monday, 30 March 2015

From Navan to China: The Story of a Chinese Irishman

Absolute thrilling book read for Lent.

This book is the story of Fr Aedan McGrath, whose ordination into the Catholic priesthood in 1929, was the first step in an adventure that would take him half way around the world and back again.

Through his involvement in The Legion of Mary, he was sent to China shortly after ordination to engage in missionary work. This would be his life for the next twenty years. He learned about the Chinese people, their proud culture and history, first hand. He also shared in their trials tribulations against the backdrop of civil war, Japanese invasion and World War.

Christianity was first introduced to China by the Nestorians in 635 AD. They were followed by the Franciscans. In 1368 as the Ming Dynasty set out to abolish Christianity but in 1582 the Jesuits managed to re-introduce it. Later centuries built on the efforts of the Jesuits. By the 20th century, numerous orders of priests and nuns were running schools, hospitals and orphanages throughout the country. It was in this context that many Columbans set off for China and Aedan McGrath was one such priest.

With the establishment of the People's Republic of China, in 1949, the Legion of Mary would ultimately become a proscribed organisation. Fr McGrath suffered because of his association and his activities on their behalf. He endured a period of imprisonment. Upon his release and return to Ireland, he was greeted upon arrival by President Sean T. O'Kelly, Taoiseach Eamon De Valera, John A. Costello among other dignataries.

He spent the remaining 50 years of his life promoting the work of the Legion of Mary.

From Navan to China: the Story of a 'Chinese Irishman' by Fr Aedan McGrath. Compiled and edited by Fr Eamonn McCarthy and Michael Walsh.

Non-fiction, biography/autobiography, historical. 325 pages with black and white photo illustrations.

First published in Ireland in 2008.

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