Centennial of China Mission Celebrated in Perryvile

This article originally appeard in the winter 2023 issue of our quarterly newsletter, The Vincentian

On Sept. 23, 2023, the Congregation of the Mission Western Province celebrated the 100th anniversary of the China mission by the American provinces following World War I. The provinces answered a call by Pope Benedict to conduct foreign missions around the world, sending priests, seminarians, and Daughters of Charity to serve as missionaries in China.

The celebration, held at St. Mary’s of the Barrens in Perryville, MO, started with a Mass at the Shrine of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal, celebrated by Fr. Hugh O’Donnell, C.M., who served as Provincial of the Province of China (in Taiwan) for seven years, starting in 1993. He had been captivated by China in his younger years and jumped at the chance to go when approached by the Superior General.

“It was one of the greatest graces and gifts of my life,” he said during a homily in which he relayed stories from his time in Taiwan and prior to that, when the Vincentians were serving on the Chinese mainland.

During his homily, Fr. O’Donnell noted that the missionaries to China may have returned home, but they left their hearts there.

The Mass was followed by a solemn graveside service, led by Fr. Jim Osendorf, C.M., at the Vincentian cemetery, where several of the China missionaries are interred. Assisting was Fr. Ferdinand Labitag, C.M., Visitor for the Province of China, who came to Perryville for the event.

At a luncheon following the service, video greetings were played by current Superior General Fr. Tomaz Mavric, C.M., and former Super General Fr. Robert Maloney, C.M. Both said the China mission serves as a reminder of the Vincentians continuing call to go where they are needed, anywhere in the world. Fr. Mavric’s video can be viewed HERE, and Fr. Maloney’s video can be viewed HERE.