Chicagoland

Deacon baptizes his mom during Easter Vigil

By Joyce Duriga | Editor
April 10, 2018

Deacon baptizes his mom during Easter Vigil

Deacon Christian Shiu baptized his mother Monica Shiu during the Easter Vigil at St Therese Chinese Mission in Chinatown March 31, 2018. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
Seminarian and transitional Deacon Christian Shiu holds the pascal candle while Father Francis Li prepares it during the Easter Vigil at St Therese Chinese Mission in Chinatown March 31. During the Mass Deacon Shiu would baptize his mother Monica Shiu. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
(Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
Deacon Shiu sings the exsultet at the start of the vigil. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
Deacon Shiu inserts the pascal candle into the holy water at Father Li blesses the water. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
Deacon Shiu baptizes a catechumen. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
Deacon Shiu shares a lighthearted moment with his mother Monica Shiu before baptizing her. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
(Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
(Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
(Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
Father Li prays over the newly baptized. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
Father Li confirms Monica Shiu. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
(Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)

When Deacon Christian Shiu baptized adults during the Easter Vigil at St. Therese Chinese Catholic Church on March 31 there was a special catechumen in line: his mother, Monica Shiu. 

It was a unique moment not just for their family but for the church community. Deacon Christian will be ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of Chicago on May 19. He was encouraged by Father Francis Li, pastor of St. Therese, to baptize his mother. 

Monica Shiu was a practicing Buddhist. As her son converted to Catholicism and her mother in Hong Kong became a Christian some years back, she started to think about things like the afterlife. 

The Sunday following her son’s diaconate ordination in May 2017, Monica was approached after Mass by Perry Lau, one of the parish’s directors for the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults. 

“I never talked to her before. I just approached her and asked her, ‘Maybe you want to know about the faith?’” Lau said. “Her immediate reply was ‘yes.’” 

Before RCIA classes started in the fall, Monica told her son. 

“It was a complete shock when my mom shared that with me at dinner,” Christian said. “I didn’t expect it to be this soon.”

But it was not totally a surprise, he said. 

“Along the way I really have seen the Holy Spirit working in not only my own life but in the life of my family,” he said.

Right before Monica started RCIA classes she still wasn’t 100 percent sure God was calling her to be a Catholic, so, like many people do, she put him to a test. She owned a building in Chinatown that she had been trying to sell for almost 10 years.

“One day I talked to God in my heart. I said, ‘God, if you help me to sell the building I will become a Catholic,’” Monica said. 

She didn’t share her request with anyone. The next thing she knew, she had a buyer. Monica said it was a sign that God was calling her.

“I said to myself, ‘I’m going to do it. I’m becoming a Catholic.’”

Monica attended Lau’s RCIA classes that are taught in Cantonese. Lau himself is a former Buddhist who converted to Catholicism while studying at Illinois Institute for Technology.

Their shared faith background helped Lau explain Catholicism to Monica since there are similarities between the faiths.

“I knew where she was coming from,” Lau said. “Monica has a good understanding of Buddhist beliefs and shared them during RCIA classes. It actually made it really easy for me to make the point about our Catholic faith because she already had that in her mind. But it’s probably deeper and more meaningful now.”

Monica was one of 11 people baptized at the Easter Vigil and 12 who were confirmed. All but one were Chinese Americans. This isn’t surprising because while other Chinatowns across the United States are seeing a decline in population, Chicago’s is growing, according to news reports. The growth is evident as more Chinese people move into neighboring communities such as Bridgeport and Canaryville.

The parish is home to the archdiocese’s Chinese apostolate, which has outreach programs such as RCIA in Mandarin and Cantonese. 

Topics:

  • baptism
  • easter vigil

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