LA RÉUNION-FRANCE-CHINA The new bishop of La Réunion has Chinese ancestry

Bishop Pascal Chane-Teng was appointed by the Pope to lead the Church in the French overseas territory in the Indian Ocean. He belongs to a family originally from Guangdong. As vicar general he also followed the local Chinese Catholic community, made up of descendants of immigrants who arrived from the 19th century.

La Réunion ( / Agencies) – The new bishop of the diocese of La Réunion, the French overseas territory off the coast of Africa in the Indian Ocean, has a Chinese name. It is about Mons. Pascal Chane-Teng, who is a descendant of immigrants from Guangdong and serves as vicar general for the diocese. The prelate was appointed by Pope Francis as successor to Mons. Gilbert Aubry, who led this local Church for 47 years.

Bishop Chane-Teng was born on July 4, 1971 in Saint-Pierre, on the island of La Réunion and belongs to the diocesan clergy. He comes from a family of Chinese origin of Hakka culture, who immigrated to the Indian Ocean at the end of the 19th century and settled in Réunion in 1923. The family hails from Meizhou prefecture in eastern Guangdong and still maintains frequent ties with his town of origin. The prelate’s original Chinese name is 曾慶輝 (Zeng Qìng hui), or, Frenchified, Chane-Teng.

An estimated 25,000 Chinese (also called “Sinwa”) live on the island of Reunion, descendants of workers who moved mainly from Guangdong and Fujian in search of fortune. The first arrived around 1840, even before the abolition of slavery, to work on the sugar cane plantations. Emigration continued, with various movements, including in the 20th century.

Mgr Pascal Chane-Teng entered the seminary after earning two degrees in Law and Art History at Clermont-Ferrant. He was ordained a priest in 2004. He completed his studies in Rome at the Gregorian and Urbaniana universities, before carrying out his pastoral service in La Réunion. Member of the theological and pastoral commission of the Episcopal Conference of the Indian Ocean (CEDOI, which brings together the bishops of the archipelagos of Comoros, Mauritius, La Réunion, Mayotte and Seychelle) in La Réunion, he is also coordinator of the masses for the New Year Chinese and by ancestors of Chinese origin. At the university he teaches courses on Chinese folk religion.

After receiving the news of his appointment, Mons. Pascal Chane-Teng sent a message to his diocese and thanked “for all the people that the Lord has placed in my path to build me up as a man and as a Christian.” Commending himself to the intercession of the entire diocese in this new ministry, he also invited them to “continue praying for vocations, for fragile and sick people, for our island and for our country.”

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