With the presence of a shenfu

Written by: mark escobar

A community gathers in faith,
celebrates and gives worship to the Lord;
their songs and offerings resemble -
joy in their hearts, gratitude to God.

The readings and homily given
by a shenfu who cares for their lives;
someone who prays and leads –
these people who walk with faith.

Right at the center of the altar,
he stands to pray for everyone;
at the consecration where he invokes
and remembers God as the author.

His presence with them is a gift,
a gift of leadership in the context of service;
he’s a servant leader and a man of God
two metaphors for a shenfu often identified.

He may be an alter episcopus  but,
he remains also as an alter Christus 
configured to Christ as the head
with his mission and ministry to all.

He preaches the gospel as God’s good news
teaches and heals through the sacraments.
called and commissioned to save their souls
indeed, his role makes a big difference.

Somehow along the line emerges,
his other image of being a catalyst in general.
with a collaborative ministry and collegiality,
it’s an important task that seeks unity
especially in the context of lay ministry.

Worship, proclamation of the word,
community building and service to all;
these are the main ministries he echoes every day
as a shenfu or priest committed to his people.


Shenfu means “spiritual father.’  It is the word used in Chinese to address a priest.