José She

The ten years that José She lived as an ordained priest are enough to capture his integrity and strength of mind, faith in adversity, and missionary zeal.

José She was born on January 28, 1920 in the village of Seliulou, in the subprefecture of Zhecheng, a subprefecture that in 1932 Monsignor José Tacconi would hand over to the Augustinian Recollects in exchange for that of Kaocheng, passing Seliulou from that moment to be part of the Augustinian-Recollect mission. Seliulou was a small town away from every vital point and away from any means of communication, where the Little José, almost 12 years old, would meet the first Recollect he knew, Father José Martínez.

In 1934 he entered the Kweiteh/Shangqiu seminary together with Nicholas. She is also a native of Seliulou. After the bombing of the city by the Japanese on May 29, 1939, Father Francisco Javier Ochoa, superior of the mission, sent the seminarians with Father Pedro Colomo, who was a doctor, to Seliulou, the hometown of Nicholas She and Joseph She, was one of the most secluded areas, where there was less danger and where due to the capacity of the local, could have been better installed and attended to. It was feared that by staying in Kweiteh, most of them being already robust and tall young men, the Japanese, upon entering the city, they would have been taken for Chinese soldiers, at the risk of their lives.

After the sacking of Kweiteh, when it was seen that the Japanese cyclone had passed, on the 15th in August 1938, Father Joaquín Peña, rector of the Seminary, ordered that the seminarians return to the Central House again.

José She studied humanities and Latin in Kweiteh until 1939 when he went to Kaifeng Regional Seminary to study philosophy until 1942. He returned to Kweiteh where he completed the Novitiate starting on July 7, 1943, doing the religious profession on July 8, 1944. He studied theology at the seminary of Kweiteh, where he also made his solemn profession on July 8, 1947.

On July 30 April of the following year, he was ordained deacon in Suchowfou together with Lucas Wang. On June 29, 1948, he was ordained a priest without having finished his theological studies. He went with the seminarians to Hong Kong to complete them. In December 1949 he moved to Manila.

When Monsignor Arturo Quintanilla assumed the mission, he observed that the communists in the town of Kweiteh had not bothered the missionaries and allowed religious celebrations. Based on this information, the bishop asked the superiors to send the five back to the mission Chinese priests residing in Manila, among them José She. Although superiors agreed to the request, the communists prevented José and his companions moved to other locations, frustrating the wishes of Monsignor Quintanilla to assign them vacant missionary positions. Thus, his return resulted in vain and they could not exercise their priestly ministry or care for the faithful.

In Seliulou there was a missionary center, but Father Jose could not settle in the mission house or work as a priest, having to live with his family, helping them in agricultural tasks. He was imprisoned for three months (from March 5th to June 2nd, 1951) with chains on his feet for suspicion of having belonged to the nationalist party. After his release, he was under strict surveillance and control in all his movements. Probably in 1954, he was granted permission to travel to Shanghai and visit his brother, who was the caretaker of the procurement of the Recollects. He spent a couple of weeks with the friars and was able to return to the town comforted and encouraged by him.

In September-October 1955, he was imprisoned again for two years and sentenced to five years of corrective labor in the city of Minchuang. Sadly, in 1958 he died due to lack of food and exhaustion.

Father She was recognized as an exemplary and fearless priest in his faith, and used to repeat the phrase: “A good priest if he is not in the church, he will be in the jail.”