Family: Father – John Mathias Freinademetz - farmer Mother – Ana Maria Sottvalgiarai-house wife Family of 13 children – Joseph - “Ujöp” 4th child “They lived poor and had to work hard. For the fields and transport they had a horse. They had a dozen of cows and pigs more for sale.”
Prayers in the family Daily rosary before the family altar. Devotion to the Sacred Heart Regular pilgrimage to the chapel of the Holy Cross - Kreuzkofel
The subtle voice of God urging him to be a missionary came to him through the diocesan newspaper and Joseph prayed ardently for clarity about this call.
January 1878 edition of the monthly diocesan bulletin “Kirchenblatt” brings the news about Mission House of Steyl and its missionary objective: “Priests will also be accepted whether they wish to become missionaries themselves or are simply dedicate themselves to the training of future missionaries.” During the next few weeks he prayed fervently more than ever. He felt more and more deep within – Paratum, cor meum! My heart is ready! Mission Call
“Little children go begging for bread; no one spares a scrap for them” (Lam. 4:4). These words which he heard in the Liturgy of Good Friday gave him no rest. He felt as though he was hearing the cry of the pagan children.
“I have often sought counsel in prayer to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus. My desire to be a missionary becomes stronger in such moments: I take this as a sign of God’s call for me to this sublime vocation.” (28 February 1878) Letter to Arnold Janssen
“As Bishop of Brixen, I say NO; but as a Catholic Bishop, I say YES. Take my son and make him a good missionary. But by giving him to you, I’m entrusting to you the pearl of my diocese” July 4, 1878 – letter of release from the Diocese. “In perpetuum dimissus” “Released permanently” FROM HIS BISHOP, MGSR. GASSER
On 20 April 1879 Joseph set foot on the soil of China. Joseph received his new name – “Fu Shen-fu”, which means “Lucky priest”.
a)Height of European colonialism. b)Missionaries were associated with the colonial powers who gave them protection. c)Hatred against the foreign colonial powers and missionaries as “foreign European devils or dogs”. d)Being Christian was considered a betrayal of their Chinese beliefs and traditions. e)Converts were hated because they enjoyed certain privileges and protection. f)Controversy rites – Prohibition by 1704 Clement; 1742 Benedict till 1939 lifted by Pius XII. Challenges of Mission
“ Of myself nothing interesting can be said, except perhaps that for the past three weeks, I am wearing Chinese garb, with white socks, short white pants, Chinese toga and a shaved head.” (Hong Kong 1880) Joseph wished to become as soon as possible “all things to all”. He made serious efforts to learn Chinese.
Cultural Schock Temples as “houses of the devil” where sacrifices are offered! Religious feasts – festivals of the devil honored by fire- crackers and cannon. Smoke of roasted pigs to the gods; the meat for the Chinese to eat.
Cult of the dead offering food “The Chinese eat rice and always more rice, even on their deathbed” Chinese are incapable of higher motives - materialistic. “China is truly an empire of the devil. He came with the idea of preaching, converting, baptizing crowds the whole day, building churches…but only indifference.
Joseph found that to adapt outwardly was not so difficult. “The main thing still remains to be done: the transformation of the inner man, the study of the Chinese world view, customs and practices, the study of the Chinese character and psychology. That is not the work of a day nor even of a year; neither does it take place without many a painful operation… The religious indifference of the people is and remains most incomprehensible and painful. …The young missionary feels this most bitterly.” （ Letter to his brother, 15 Dec.1880 ）
He got to know the region of South Shandong especially the people. He studied the Chinese, their way of thought, their customs and usages, their character and disposition. And this was the beginning of his inner transformation.
“The greatest task of a missionary: the inner transformation of oneself” “Up to now what I saw, heard and lived is a violent contrast with the way I used to see and think.” “The dialect is difficult but the conversion of the Chinese is more difficult”. “When you do not know what to do in China, do the contrary of what would you do in Europe”.
“As if awakening up from a deep sleep, I suddenly found myself in a totally new world and what a world!” “There is a barrier, a wall of separation between us and the Chinese, our ignorance or our imperfect and faulty knowledge of the language. “The missionary is hated by everyone, supported by few and loved by nobody.” “The missionary is often alone, frequently lonely. He does not know where he would cry because of an inner hurt or shout for great joy, and so he does both.”
People are converted only through the grace of God and ‑ may we add ‑ by our love. Only when our relationships are based on genuine Christian love will we be effective presence and witnesses where God has placed us. Just as the buds open in the warmth of the sun and close again when the darkness of night descends, in the same way human hearts open or close up when someone gives them a smile or a frown. MISSIONARY SPIRIT OF LOVE
“Now that I have no difficulty with the language and know the people and their way of life better, China has become not only my homeland but also for which I will give my life” Becoming a Chinese to the Chinese – “Transformation of the inner self.”
November 1, 1897: Murder of two SVD missionaries – Fr. Nies and Fr. Henle Attacks and assaults against missionaries. Boxers’ Uprising in 1900: evacuation of foreign missionaries to Shanghai and Qingdao. Joseph decided to stay. “Once the Boxers came to cut my throat and I had to flee in the dead of the night. All missionaries thought I was doomed, the situation was so hazardous.” TWO BLOODY & VIOLENT EVENTS
Joseph was a man of prayer and a deeply spiritual person. “Payer was his life element and life’s joy, it was the source from which he lived” Bishop Henninghaus, SVD The success of the mission was the triumph of grace, but possible only with the good effort and hard work of the missionaries
Carpentry Family Orphanage Community Missionary Response
Formation of Catechists and Leaders Evangelizers and Apostles of Christ
MISSIONARY APPROACH Contact visits Formation of cell groups Initiation to Faith/Life Prayer life liturgical life Formation of Catechists and leaders Mission follow up Formation of Christian Communities Formation of Christian Communities
“For the children not simply to be taught but also to be educated.” Also as “feeders for seminary and for good catechists.” Mission School
“I love my Chinese. I take China, its people and its language as my native country. I would die for them a thousand times over. I want to be buried with them…I want to be still Chinese in heaven.” 28 January 1908 – Died of Typhus “May heaven reunite us for all eternity.”
“The only language understood by people everywhere is the language of love.”
“ All Christians considered Joseph Freinademetz a living saint…He was always friendly, modest, humble. He spoke Chinese well. Whoever came in contact with him was deeply impressed and somehow drew comfort from his very presence. A catechist, who hardly had a good word to say about the foreign missionaries, said about Joseph: ‘Fu-Shenfu is a saint. He is different from others’. TESTIMONY – CARDINAL TIEN, SVD
“For us Chinese the manner of other missionaries was somewhat too aggressive and often too inconsiderate. This was not the case of Joseph. He was always available to others and sacrificed himself selflessly for others to the utmost of self-forgetfulness. It was a powerful experience to see him in prayer before the tabernacle. His piety was natural and attractive”
“His most outstanding characteristic was his immensely amiable goodness. He was endowed with those traits so necessary to the missionary, that is, a permanent gentleness and kindness, which win hearts and a tireless patience, which is the incomparable charity of one who forgets oneself. He was always in a cheerful mood.” Bishop Henninghaus, SVD
A praying missionary in every moment. On fire for the mission of God With a heart of the Good Shepherd who lays down his life. Who learned to love the people and who became one with them Caught up in the redeeming love of God – the cross. Aware that everything is God’s grace. “I do not regard being a missionary as a sacrifice offered to God but as a grace that God gave me.” “ Champion of evangelization” John Paul II
“ With the tenacity typical of mountain people, this generous ‘witness of love’ dedicated himself wholly to the Chinese people of Shandong. Through love and with love, he embraced their conditions of life, in line with the advice that he himself gave to his missionaries: ‘Missionary work is in vain if we do not love and are not loved.’ He was an exemplary model of evangelical inculturation.” John Paul II