Father Zhu Shude, S.J. (1913-1983)


After Mao Tse-Tung (1893–1976) declared the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949, missionaries and Chinese clergy flooded out of mainland China to escape the coming anti-Christian persecutions. There were some clergy, however, who remained with their beleaguered flock, such as the American Jesuit, Father Charles McCarthy, S.J., (1911–1991) and the Chinese Jesuit, Father Zhu Shude, S.J. (1913–1983).

In 1949, Father Zhu was in Hong Kong receiving his fellow Jesuits fleeing the mainland, and he decided that the Christians in Shanghai needed him to remain with them through the storm. Despite the entreaties from his fellow priests to stay in the safety of Hong Kong, Zhu boarded a plane for Shanghai. In a poignant letter left for his brother, he wrote:

Every day many people are escaping from China to Hong Kong. Yet I cannot find anyone, apart from myself, who is preparing to leave Hong Kong for China. Everyone laughs at me for being a fool. In the eyes of the world I am indeed the biggest fool ever born! When a merchant cannot make a profit in one place, he will move somewhere else. Yet I am a priest, and the life of a priest is to serve his flock. As long as there are Christians left in Shanghai, I must return there. Because I am a priest. I represent Christ and his Church. Wherever I am, the Church is. I am willing to stay in Shanghai, to let the communist party know that the Catholic faith is still alive.

Zhu was arrested in 1953, and finally died in a labour camp in 1983 after thirty years of hardship and torment. He remains a heroic example among Chinese Catholics today of what it means to love Christ, the Church, and China.

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