Finding my Ignatian Family Through the Xavier Youth Project

sun and his family
Jian Ming Sun, his wife Jing and their daughters. 

Jian Ming Sun, his wife and children are a family unit, but they are also part of the global Ignatian family network.

Jian Ming Sun is a young Chinese man who underwent training in the Jesuit Xavier Youth Project and now works in for a church charity institute that focuses on development in China and reaching out to individuals and groups in Chinese society who are facing challenges like ill-health or poverty. He describes his journey from his family of origin, to a family that he and his wife Jing created, and their integration into the wider family of the Jesuit community in China and abroad.

As a student, Jian Ming had different ideas for his life but things changed when he met his future wife, Jing, through the university’s Catholic student group who encouraged him to take part in the Xavier Youth Programme, as she had. He credits both with changing the course of his life.

Xavier Youth Service

The Xavier Youth Service offers an intensive, four-month, full-time programme to four-year university students from all over China. Participants become core team members who on completion, either volunteer for two years in youth ministry or become facilitators for organising youth groups and activities in their parishes. To date, the programme has trained more than 200 young people who are now active in the church. The course has modules that cover the spiritual aspects of ministry, and also offers practical skills to life organising and facilitating youth activities and retreats and strategy planning.

Having completed the programme, they both worked as youth ministry volunteers for a year and it was then that they began to consider the possibilities for their future relationship. They prayed and went on retreat to reflect, and three years later decided to have a family while devoting their lives to family ministry. Jian Ming works in the charity institute (Jinde Charities) and also assists his wife Jing in her family ministry, where she offers helps to parents to improve their relationship with their children and married couples to relate to each other.

Family Togetherness

Jian Ming and Jing have a very happy relationship with each other and enjoy their life together with their daughters. They express their spirituality by doing the Ignatian Examen prayer before bed each day, hand-in-hand. In the prayer, they acknowledge God’s presence and invitation in their life, give thanks for the blessings they have received and ask for strength. They have been working in the charity and family ministry for nearly five years and get a lot of spiritual benefits from their work.

Family Estrangement

Unfortunately, everything has not always been so happy for them. Jian Ming’s father and some of his extended family thought he and his wife were crazy to choose this path and stopped speaking to them for a time. The Catholic Church in China is under pressure from the Government and they worried that he would not be able to get by on the low wages and donations that are necessary to be a layperson working in this area. He and his wife were deeply hurt by the family’s failure to understand but now they find that their passion for their work is being recognised gradually and those relationships are being mended.

The Jesuit Family

The Suns are grateful to the Xavier Youth Program for building their faith and trust in God and encouraging them to pursue their vocations. Jian Ming and Jing are sure they are undertaking God’s call for us and will continue to do their work with faith and trust. They feel part of the Ignatian, or Jesuit family which is a global community.

Jinde Charities

The organisation Jing Ming Sun works for is Jinde Charities, which was founded in 1997 as the first domestic Catholic NGO in China. Its initiatives include disaster relief, education and scholarships, HIV/AIDS prevention, care for the elderly, and anti-trafficking projects.

Author: Jian Ming Sun works as Youth Ministry Volunteer at the Jinde Charities. August 16, 2018