22 February 2008

DUFEM to launch Chinese immigrant report

The Dublin University Far Eastern Mission (DUFEM) was founded in 1886 to engage TCD students with Christianity in China. The Archbishops of Armagh and Dublin are Patrons of DUFEM, which is chaired by the Revd Canon Patrick Comerford. DUFEM has had a long and distinguished history of supporting the Church in China through education, friendship and material care. The context of DUFEM’s work has changed since its foundation and the organisation now engages in ecumenical and secular endeavours without losing sight of our founders’ original concerns.

In recent years, DUFEM has developed a Summer Placement Scheme that helps young students from TCD to travel to China and to work there with Shanghai YMCA, learning about life in this exciting and different context. When they return to Trinity, these students share their experiences with the community in college.

DUFEM is also engaged with the Fuzhou Foreign Language School, a division of the Chinese Middle School system in Fuzhou, Fujian, providing the opportunity for recently-graduated Irish teachers to teach in China. The Middle School was founded as Trinity College Fuzhou in 1907.

DUFEM supports theological education in China through an exchange programme between the Church of Ireland Theological College and Ming Hua Theological College in Hong Kong. DUFEM is also engaged in examining the status of immigrants to Ireland from mainland China. These people constitute a significant minority in both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. Many report experiences of racism and of discrimination. It is unclear what their spiritual and their social needs are and how they are being met.

The Dublin University Far Eastern Mission and the China Educational and Cultural Liaison Committee, representing Roman Catholic agencies with an interest in China, recently commissioned a sociological study into the religious values of the Chinese people in Ireland. This was carried out as a first step in determining the pastoral care the Churches might offer and in uncovering issues which the Churches might not be able to directly address but which our whole society needs to respond to.

The report, Mainland Chinese Students and Immigrants in Ireland and Their Engagement with Christianity, Churches And Irish Society, by Dr Richard O’Leary of Queen’s University Belfastand Dr Lan Li of University College Dublin, will be launched on Thursday 6 March at 6.15 p.m. in the Chapel in Trinity College Dublin, following Choral Evensong at 5.15 p.m.

As an ecumenical space within a secular university, the chapel reflects the ethos of DUFEM as it strives towards greater understanding through education and engagement.

For more information about the launch please click here.

To view the executive summary of the report click here.

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