Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Trappist Monks in Communist China (excerpt)

On June 24, 2012, "Enemies of the State" won top Los Angeles Press Club Journalism Award in the News Feature Category

Judges' comments: "Writer knows her audience and provides well-researched details to paint a riveting tale. Magazine-quality story on an interesting topic."

To read the whole story, purchase
"Blood of the Martyrs:
Trappist Monks in Communist China ."


Enemies of the State:
Catholic Priests Communist China

by Theresa Marie MoreauFirst published in The Remnant Newspaper, April, May, June 2011

Eritis mihi testes. (You shall be my witnesses.)
– Acts of the Apostles 1:8

Distant gunfire in the dead of night startled the Trappist monks from their slumber. Inside the darkened monastery, they listened as Chinese Communist soldiers viciously attacked a city only a few miles to the north.
Suddenly, the far-off explosions drew nearer. Red soldiers running from the city of Chengtingfu headed south, straight for Our Lady of Joy, the Trappist monastery situated on a 300-acre alluvial island that parted the waters of Hutuo River.
The moon, nearly full that April 4, 1947, highlighted the soldiers in an eerie chiaroscuro of gray, as they bolted toward the North Bridge, the railroad trestle that crossed the north strand of the river. Continuing southward along the railroad tracks that paralleled the monastery’s enclosure wall, the Red guerilla warriors raised their weapons and aimed toward the cloister. Explosions from the barrels sent bullets flying. Dirt puffed up gray dust clouds. Craters dimpled mud brick walls. A single shot entered the shoulder of Father Benedictus-Josephus Labre Chao, but exited through the other, without even nicking a bone. The Communist combatants continued along the tracks, crossed the South Bridge and headed toward the city of Shihchiachuang, several miles to the south. And just as suddenly as they had appeared, they disappeared.
Madness passed. Calmness returned. In the quiet of the early morning, at 3:30 a.m., the assigned monk rang the bell to signal the hour for Matins. Alerted by the clanging, the guerilla soldiers – dressed in civilian clothing – returned to the island, clambered over the enclosure wall and swarmed the monastery. They thought the bell had been a signal to their enemy in the Chinese Civil War.
“Where are the Nationalists?” demanded the soldiers, as they grabbed a few of the closest monks, roughing them up.
“I don’t know,” the monks answered. It was the truth. It was also the safest answer.
Again, the irregular troops left just as suddenly.

Following the attack on their Community, the monks held a meeting to discuss its future. Stay or evacuate were the two options that Father Prior Paulinus Li offered each one. He forced no one to stay. He forced no one to leave. For some of the 60-or-so monks, it seemed impossible to stay. For others, it seemed impossible to leave. But, leave? To where? Prior Paulinus thought of Bishop Jacques-Victor-Marius Rouchouse (Society of Foreign Missions of Paris).

To read the whole story, purchase
"Blood of the Martyrs:
Trappist Monks in Communist China."


Theresa Marie Moreau can be reached at

No comments:

Post a Comment