FROM EAST TO WEST. 1-Return to Community Life. On their return to Chefoo, the Marists felt like people who have left behind a world of phantasms and worries, and entered into the joy of the hearth, so longed for during the captivity. With the sea breezes, the well known coast-line, the brotherly life and the reopening of the school classes, they breathed again as if they had come to a new life. It was the time of the Chinese New Year, and after the winter holidays, they felt the excitement of the school life. However these were partly only hopes, like spring flowers turned wane by the communist frost. Let us accompany our hero in his disillusionments.
Entering the Chefoo community of seven religious, the Superior, Brother Philip, found a community broken up by the ruling regime. The Brothers were there, but what they had suffered was beyond understanding. Brother Philip showed great tact in dealing with the situation. He proposed to all those who were there and those who had recently come out of the course in the university, a three-day retreat to repair the inevitable negligence and resume regular observance. And he added: “We all know what the Communist auto-accusation means. We have made it. I believe it convenient that we make another one with different sentiments… before our confreres, that with this act of humility we may begin a new religious life.”
The Chapter of Faults of all the Brothers gathered there was held on the first day of the spiritual exercises. The Superior of Chefoo, Brother Philip Wu, was the first one to make a confession of his faults. This example was followed by Brother Josaphat, director-superior of Wei Hai Wei College and community. When Joche Albert’s turn came, he fell on his knees, and he started his accusation, his voice failed him and he burst into tears; so abundant were his tears and sighs that he was unable to proffer a single sentence. Brother Superior consoled him with paternal affection, while all the confreres were greatly impressed. He asked him to stand and requested the others to proceed with their own accusations. When Brother Albert had gotten control of himself, he made his accusation after all the others. (Philip Wu).
Under the Red regime the Chinese New Year celebration was to be discontinued. Already before the Regime became master of the republic, the school holidays of the New Year were curtailed because the nation was to be transformed forcibly; and in the head of the mentors, systems were boiling that were opposed to the “imperialistic ostracism of times gone by”. One was to remove from the class-rooms religious teaching and its influence; and if the Marists were working in Chefoo, the management did not belong to them. The teaching and management had already been snatched away from them. But as the Marist were by now familiar with suffering, they could now stomach anything.
If in Yen Tai the outcome looked abominable, in Wei Hai Wei it had knocked the bottom. Shortly after the end of the university course and having had a little rest in Yen Tai, the superior of the “Stella Maris” School in that port-city returned to his desolate community. The older students organized a series of purely Soviet events against him: during the school assembly they flogged their director in a most vile and cruel way; they did not forget the customary speeches and shouts of “He must die!” They then dressed him in a most infamous sanbenito, throwing on his head a huge hat and a show bill with the so called crimes on his back; thus vilified and abused, he was paraded through the mains streets of the town in the midst of an infernal hullabaloo. As a concluding gesture, he was thrown out of his own school and he was peremptorily and promptly forced to become a hawker trudging along the streets in order to earn his daily meagre pittance through the peddling of his wares and other trifles. And he still wrote to his Provincial: “I am happy to be treated like Our Lord Jesus Christ, being scourged and paraded through the streets of Jerusalem.”