The Holy Spirit Study Centre (HSSC) is an organ of the Diocese of Hong Kong. It was established in 1980 by the late Cardinal John Baptist Wu as an expression of pastoral concern for China and the Church in China. It is a research institute whose primary practical task has been to gather, store and analyze pertinent data about China that will serve to broaden understanding of the Mainland’s rapidly changing situation, and to effect appropriate Christian responses. Facilities at the Centre, which is housed in a wing of the Holy Spirit Seminary in Aberdeen, include offices for its full-time staff and research associates, a library, archives for collected documentation, and meeting rooms. Material is gleaned from over 100 Chinese and English language periodicals and daily newspapers.
This provides both professional researchers and other interested people with a wealth of up-to-date information on what is happening in Mainland China and in the Church in China. The work of the Centre is of particular interest to the Hong Kong Diocese not only because it is the diocese with the largest number of Chinese Catholics in the world, but also because Hong Kong reverted to Chinese sovereignty on 1 July 1997 and has since been governed under the principle of “One Country, Two Systems.”
Tripod is the Centre’s bilingual publication. Published quarterly (since 2020, half-yearly), it is concerned with Christianity in China. Christian, ecumenical, and catholic in style and content, it encourages an open dialogue and free exchange of views. The word ‘tripod’ is the literal translation of the Chinese character ding, which is a traditional vessel used by ancient sages to offer sacrifice to Heaven; it connotes achieving harmony through wisdom and understanding.
Another of the Centre’s services is to assist Church related groups from abroad passing through Hong Kong en route to and from China. To enrich their visit, the Centre offers orientation seminars before they go to China and opportunities to evaluate their experiences after their return. Occasionally the Centre also sponsors its own trips to the Mainland.
As part of its educational responsibilities to the local Catholic community, the Centre also publishes a monthly one-page feature, China Bridge,? in the English diocesan weekly, the Sunday Examiner. Since March 1991, China Bridge has dealt with various issues or topics of interest related to China’s past or present.order now
The Centre takes an active part in forging close relationships with Mainland Christians. Members of its staff are frequent visitors to Mainland churches, where they share information and experiences with Catholic communities. The raison d’etre for such work is to promote a spirit of friendship, reconciliation and unity on both sides of the border.
The Centre also provides some assistance to seminaries and convents in China by securing library equipment, books, teaching materials, etc. Such assistance is supportive and advisory, and one way the Centre can make a contribution to the formation of China’s future priests and religious.
Although the object of the HSSC is China and the Church in China, located in Hong Kong the Centre is also affected to various degrees by what happens in Hong Kong. Despite uncertainties and political changes since the handover, the Centre’s work continues uninterrupted with no perceptible change. HSSC staff members still write, publish, travel, give talks, and make comments as before.
The Centre maintains close contact with Church people in China in both the registered and unregistered churches. Staff members make frequent trips to China in many different capacities, both formally and informally. Some present papers at conferences while others visit churches, convents, and social centres to meet a variety of people. Some manage to teach short periods in seminaries or to give talks to Sisters in convents. Just meeting with the Catholics is a great encouragement for them. One of the key services of the Centre is its ability to provide a communications link between the Church in China and the Church outside. This is particularly usefully for funding agencies and other related institutions.
After 40 years of service, the Centre is all the more aware of its unique opportunity to be of service to the Church in China and the world outside. It is also mindful of its responsibility to further the cause of reconciliation and unity within the China Church and to contribute in any way possible to its on-going development.