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The Biography of Mons Teodoro Labrador Fraile OP


   At 5:40 on November 22nd, 1951(The 62nd year of Republic Era), a gray haired elderly arrived in Taiwan after hours of long-distance flight from Spain in the dusk of the evening. His health did  not allow him to travel long distances, but a strong force│spiritual power generated by the desire to love China and want to live with the Chinese as soon as possible, has supported him in completing this  long journey. The first sentence he spoke when he got off the plane was: "China is my second motherland, and I will never be separated from this land again." At that special moment Cardinal Yu Bin went to the airport to greet him. He hugged the gray-haired old man and said: "Welcome the veteran back!" This is indeed an veteran│ a missionary who has contributed to the Chinese Church, a member of the Holy Order of the Chinese Church, an heir of Apostle, a Dominican priest, and the founder of the Congregation │Archbishop Zhao Bingwen.

  Bishop Zhao was born in the province of Valencia, Spain. He was born on November 11, 1888 (25years Before the year of Republic Era), and on December 10, 1906 (when the bishop was 18 years old) he entered the Order of Dominican in Avila Novitiate, the Province of Rosa and began to live a religious life; five years later (September 23, 1911), went to Louisiana to study theology; on August 1914, he studied at the University of St. Thomas in Manila, and was ordained priest in Manila on October 2nd of the same year, at the age of 26. He came to China on June 23rd the following year and began his mission of preaching the good news of Salvation. First, he taught at Foochow Yangguang Middle School, it was founded by the Dominicans, and also taught French at the Public School. He was also the pastor of the foreigner laities for six years. Father Gao Shiqian was studying at Yangguang School at that time when he was fifteen years old. After class, he often played with our founder on the playground,such as football, or practiced riding bicycles. One time when the founder helped him with the bicycle, he suddenly let go of the bicycle with a push. Father Gao fell off the bicycle, but since then, Father Gao has the courage to ride the bicycle. Our Founder sometimes taught him Spanish, and he also taught the founder local Foochow language (Foochownese).The teacher and student develped a strong relationship. Father Gao converted to the Catholicism after receiving the teaching of our founder, and later, was received the sacrament of priesthood. Ten years later, in 1925, our founder took over as the principal of Yangguang Middle School. The Foochow Municipal Government hired him as a member of Huayang Disaster Relief and Poor Relief Committee. In addition to education, he began his charity missions. Because of the work, he met a lot of friends and gained people's popularity. On May 10, 1926, Pope Pius XI demarcated the old Funing Prefecture of Fuzhou diocese from five counties in eastern Fujian and established a new diocese. With the title of Bishop "Fusala", our founder was ordained in Fuzhou on October 26. He arrived in Fu’an on November 18 and took office. Because the cathedral and the public office had not yet built an official residence, so he visited the parishes for one year, carried out the sacrament of Confirmation that has been suspended for many years, and study the various situations of the new diocese. Draw up a plan and prepared to vigorously promote educational affairs. The founder knew that the urgent need to promote the teaching affairs was to establish a seminary and train local clergy. So they used the old parish house in front of the post pavilion to simply set up a minor seminary, enrolling 30 seminarians.

  The seminarians built their own sportsground and did not have a bathroom, so they had to bathe by the well. Although life was difficult, but there were 14 seminarians who later ordained as priests. Five years later, to commemorate Luo Gongwenzao, he started to build a new seminary in his hometown│Luojiaxiang. In addition to the above-mentioned 20 seminarians, another 60 new students were recruited. But because the impact of the war, there were only two ordained to priesthood. When the bishop visited the parish, he found that the faithful of Fu-An were extremely enthusiastic. And there were six Dominican martyrs. In addition, Miss Chen Zidong from the third congregation of the Dominican who was guided by the blessed Fransicus Capilla. She became the first sacred flower in Bamin, and showed many miracles after death. Affected by it, Fu'an County has more than a thousand virgins, and they have made great contributions to assisting the mission. When the bishop saw this, he was determined to establish a local congregation, to train these women who were determined to be religious. When the Sandu’ao Bishop’s Office and the cathedral were completed, the nun’s convent was built at the foot of the mountain in front of the church. To be cautious, only six people were admitted in the first group. The bishop worked extremely hard to establish this congregation. He went to Rome twice for the congregation. He also invited Spanish nuns to assist him.

     On September 19th, 1932, five sisters of the Dominican Order of the Province of Rosa arrived in Fu'an from Spain. This is the origin of our │Funing Dominican Order. The first five nuns had firm faith and outstanding performance. After the fall of the mainland, they were able to keep their vows and remain unswerving.

      In 1939, the bishop ordained the first seven priests of Funing diocese. "Fr. Wang Dao was one of them." Thirteen years after the ordination to the bishop, the bishop witnessed the emergence of new blood cultivated by himself. Seeing that there were already more than 30 sisters in this congregation, he felt infinitely happy. During his 25-year tenure in the Funing Diocese, the bishop took the initiative to maintain the church affairs of the parish. And  because of the generosity and enthusiasm of the faithful, our bishop was able to devote himself to the construction works. A total of 19 churches, five small churches, and two orphanages were built. Four schools, three hospitals, in the war to educate the children of the Chinese people, to find a safe place for the displaced, to serve the disabled and suffering. This good work lead many people deeply into the mercy of the good shepherd - our Lord Jesus .

      At the end of the Anti-Japanese War, the coastal ports were blocked by the Japanese army. There was a shortage of materials, the diocese’s funding was difficult, and the agricultural production was poor. The convents were unable to maintain their food. Someone suggested to dismiss the community, but our Bishop said:"Have faith! when St. Teresa of Avila was on her way, the car fell into the mud, but the saint sang loudly. The fellow nun blamed her for not knowing her interest, but the saint said: "I have seen the cross, the affair must be Success!" No matter how hard we suffer, we must continue in our faith. Brother and sister seminarians are the foundation of the diocese and must not be dismissed again!"

     In order to maintain life in the seminary, the bishop sold part of the land in Sandu and his personal possessions, including the bath towels and embroidered pillows given by the faithful, and dismissed the workers, he cultivated by himselve and ate the vegetables and sweet potatoes he grew. Although he suffered so much, he took great care of the religious congregation he founded by himself. Some laity  gave him chickens and eggs, but he was reluctant to eat them, and asked someone to give all the food to the sisters. Someone brought white rice, and the bishop's first thought was giving it to the sisters, even though he was criticized, he didn’t care about it. Once, he gave some peanuts to the sisters. The sisters was overjoyed when they got this good thing because the lack of supplies. But due to the silence regulation, sisters ate the peanuts in silence, there's only the sound of chewing peanuts. Seeing this scene, the founder couldn't help but jokingly said: "It's really like a group of little mice."

    Humor, kindness, and compassion were the portrayal of our bishop. His care for the sisters also showed the spirit of Saint Dominic. In the predicament after coming to Taiwan, the seven sisters of this congregation did not fear rebelliousness and insisted on their vocations, all because of founder's good morality.

     One day in 1943, the Japanese plane blasted bombs and fired wildly over Sandu'o. Everyone was trying to escape from the danger. However, the bishop was afraid that the cathedral and the convent would be destroyed. So he raise both hands just like Moses did, in a cross-like prayer in the back of the convent field until the enemy plane retreats. At that time, various institutions, schools, shops and private houses were completely unrecognizable, and the vicinity of the cathedral and seminary were also shot, but not even a piece of glass was broken. Everyone exclaimed a miracle! This alone showed the bishop’s spirit of "martyrdom" and "shepherd of the people."

      In 1945, the Holy See announced the establishment of the Chinese Catholic Church Hierarchy. the country was changed to an official diocese. The bishop was ordained to Bishop of Funing. In 1946, he was Archbishop of Fuzhou and the Auxiliary Bishop of Funing Diocese, also in charge of the Diocese of Taiwan. This was when he was sixty years old. During his three years as the Archbishop of Fuzhou, the bishop built two churches, two hospitals, and a girls’ missionary school. Minister Li Peili once urged him to set up the "Fujian United Minor Seminary" in Fuzhou, everything was ready but because the CCP entered Fujian and it could not be achieved. In 1948, seven priests of nationality were ordained in Fuzhou. In the same year, Bishop Niu Huiqing of the diocese of Yanggu, Shandong, took over as Auxiliary bishop of Funing. The world has changed like the wind blow on a white cloud,who would have thought: after twenty-six years, the gray-haired bishop Zhao will settle in the Chiayi diocese started by bishop Niu! God's plan is unpredictable.
      In 1950, the situation was getting tighter, and the bishop sent 13 young sisters and postulants from this congregation to Taiwan through Hong Kong. In September 1951, the bishop was arrested by the CCP on the grounds that he "advocated the Army of Our Lady" and spent two weeks in prison. Six months later, he was sentenced to deportation. The 65-year-old bishop and two priests from the same district walked from Fuzhou to Guangzhou for five days, and then took a car from Guangzhou to Hong Kong. In the exhibition of my country's bandit information, there was a photo of the bishop carring a bag arriving at Luohu. After arriving in Hong Kong, the bishop was admitted to the hospital due to physical weakness. On February 13, 1952, the bishop recovered and visited the priest and sisters. The sisters cried and cried when they saw him. He seemed to understand the sisters ’thoughts and calmly said: "Don’t cry, the external pain and shock It’s like rain, but it doesn’t penetrate your heart. I’m afraid that your heart is broken. how sad would that be.” The bishop only stayed in Taiwan for two weeks, and then flew back to Spain via Manila. Since then, it’s been more than 20 years. Although the bishop was abroad, his attachment to the sisters of this congregation was endless, and the construction of Fu'an Hospital and the convent were completed by the help of his funding.

From 1952 to 1972, the bishop served as the acting judge in the canonization cases of priests, nuns, and church members during the Spanish Civil War.

    In 1958, the construction of the convent was completed. Sister Lai Juzi, the mother General at the time, was grateful for the kindness of the Founder for helping the development of the congregation. She really wanted to invite Founder back and live with the sisters, so sisters could took good care of him in his old age. In 1967, Father Lin Shaocang went to Europe to visit the bishop in Madrid. At that time, due to the reconstruction of the Dominican Convent, the bishop had to stay in the small room on the fourth floor of the Franciscan House. The 80-year-old bishop had to carry his luggage and washing clothes by himself. He still wore the old gown, and he could easily tripped by his long clothes. Recalling the old days in Fu'an, the faithful regarded bishop as grandfather, and they would enthusiastically served him, and  meticulously care for him. But now there was no one at his side to take good care for him. But the bishop was calm and did not complain. Seeing this, the priest sighed with emotion and insisted that the bishop consider coming to Taiwan. Unfortunately, because the holy ministry, he was not allowed to make the trip. With repeated urges but no avail, the sisters in Taiwan could only wait eagerly day and night, praying for God’s blessings and reunion.

      In late August 1973, the first International Dominican Missionary Conference was held in Madrid. Sister Huang Bixia attended the conference as the representative. The venue was set in the Dominican Major Seminary where the bishop lived. When the bishop saw Sister Huang, he couldn’t help but shed tears of joy. For he haven't seen his own sisters that he himself founded for twenty years, and now they were met. How could they not had mixed sadness and joy? During the two-week session, Sister Huang, on behalf of all the sisters, took care of their father figure, the most reverent Founder and Bishop. The bishop tirelessly asked questions about the sisters. The desire of coming to Taiwan was written all over his face. In Madrid, the bishop offered a special mass for our congregation. Sister Huang was the only participant. Bishop looked at his daughters' representative and said: "Although you are the only one participating in this holy sacrifice, I seem to see you all, there is not a day when I was not praying for you. I always ask the kind Father to bless you, so that you can faithfully serve the Lord in the Chinese Church and benefit the crowd..." A few words spoke out the heart of the bishop, It also fully expressed his feelings of caring for the congregation. Sister Huang had never met the bishop before, but she was so affectionate by his kindness and she had an excellent impression of the founder. She accompanied the bishop during Adoration. Seeing that the bishop wore a Dominican habit with a long gray beard, kneeling in front of the Eucharist, he looked like he was floating. His peaceful and tranquil appearance was deeply impressed in the heart of Sister Huang.

     The bishop took Sister Huang to visit the downtown area of ​​Madrid, and he was delighted to introduce her to an old friend. That kind of gratification and contentment made his daughter even more proud of being a Chinese sister. The most unforgettable thing is that the bishop mysteriously led Sister Huang to a bank, and withdraw all the money he had and gave all the eight thousand dollars to her, and said gently: "Next time you come out by yourself, use the money to buy some small gifts for you and sisters and take it back and give it to each sister as a souvenir." Sister Huang chose a set of sacrificial vessels and a pack of needles for each sister according to the bishop's wishes. When the bishop saw the group of exquisite vessels he was satisfied. Stroking the long beard, he laughed when he saw the needles, and said humorously: "Child, you give the needles to the sisters, it must has a symbolic meaning!" Indeed! The sisters could use the needle to appreciate the bishop's morals, imitate his enthusiasm and love, weave and embroider into a beautiful work in daily life, beautify the church and society. The bishop often took the opportunity to educate and give the younger generations appropriate teaching according to the time and place. Once he took Sister Huang to see the fig tree and asked her to learn the spirit of the fig: "Look, she looks too inconspicuous but she grows fruit. Covered with large leaves, the fruit is small and delicious, I hope you think about it.” This is the words of a wise man, simple but meaningful; if the sisters often have the opportunity to get along with the founder, they would be nurtured by it. They would surely change their temperament and increase spiritual cultivation. Unfortunately, Spain and Taiwan are thousands of miles away, and they could not listen to the bishop’s instructions. The bishop spent the day and night with Sister Huang during the meeting. He must had recalled the scene of the founding of the congregation in Fu'an, and his sincere enthusiasm for his daughter has deepened! This matter could  be known from his meeting with Cardinal Rossi of the Congregatio pro Gentium Evangelizatione and his deep desire to come to Taiwan. In addition to expressing his wishes the bishop wrote a five-page report to the holy ministry.

      In 1974, the Bishop of the Evangelical Ministry of Peoples in Rome allowed the bishop to settle in Taiwan. On October 17, the bishop left Spain. However, he was forced to return to Spain when he arrived in Rome because of a chronic gastric ulcer. If this is a test, our bishop had passed the test. He rested for a while and flew directly to Taiwan from Spain again in late November. Arriving at Taipei Songshan Airport on November 22, Cardinal Yu Bin led bishops, priests, nuns and faithful representatives to greet him. The bishop, coming back in this difficult time to go through the troubles with the people, it could be regarded as big news! At that time, a press conference was held at the airport. The Archbishop stood on the land of China, which had been in violation for more than 20 years, with tears of excitement and joy in his eyes. He repeatedly said: China is his hometown, and he wants to rest in this land. At 3 pm on November 23, the bishop arrived in Dounan and was warmly welcomed by the mayor, faithful and sisters. From then on, the bishop and the daughters he missed so much were finally able to get together day and night and never parted.

    The Bishop settled in Dounan for nearly six years. We celebrated his 60th ordination and his 90th birthday. On January 2, 1975, guests from Dounan Church gathered to celebrate the bishop’s eighty-eighth birthday and sixty years of ordination. Bishop Jia, Bishop Zheng, and more than ten priests co celebrated the mass.There were 54 priests in the audience, and many nuns and faithful participated in this big event. The bishop had lived alone in Spain for twenty years, and now he was so loved and congratulated by everyone in Taiwan. we believe that in his golden days he  would feel gratified. The two ceremonies left warm memories for the bishops and sisters. The following two couplets were the best memories. "wise elderly will not grow old, and the great years coming has been renewed." "The ninety-years-old has a heart for the rivers and mountains of China, and the rivers and mountains live together; a generation of good shepherd misses the faithful in Taiwan and Fujian, and the faithful are the same." In those six years, the sisters had a deeper understanding and love for him. These six years were really given by God's love for us. Although the bishop had no external accomplishments, he prayed and meditated and recited the Rosary every day. His contemplative mind and peaceful manners deeply attracted the people around him. We believed that because of his piety, he blessed  the Diocese of Chiayi and China. The church had earned a lot of blessings and graces from him. Now, let us pay tribute to the Founder's spiritual that had marked in every sister's heart.

 1. Loving Jesus and the Virgin:
There is a statue of the Sacred Heart of Jesus on the door of the founder’s bedroom. Every time the founder goes in and out, he will kiss it no less than dozens of times a day, he often recited a short chant: "Jesus, I Believe in you, I hope in you, I love you." He spent most of his time in contemplation of God every day; his rosary was always there, especially in the last two years, he completely ignored mundane affairs, only think about things in heaven. every time someone visited him, they see him reciting the rosary. Through the simple prayers of contemplation, he was immersed in God. It was always felt to see him praying: people could feel the presence of God, so quiet and so peaceful, it made people feel like they were in heaven. The solemn and piety of the Founder's participation in the rituals was even more amazing. During the big festivals, he always wnet to the Dounan Church to spend time with the faithful. The Mass was more than an hour, he had never wiggled his body or swung his body or change posture. "Pious participation in ritual" is the spirit of the Dominican spirituality which was fully demonstrated in our Founder!

2. Humility:
  This is exactly what the founder told us in his will: "One of the most important qualities I suggest to you is humility." His own life is a mirror of humility. Although he was the archbishop and founder of the congregation, he always first consult the General no matter how big or small the matter was. If the General agreed, he smiled happily, rejected he also accepted. He never complained, he was always considerate of others, did not cause trouble to others.  He was not only humbly to the elders, but also "obedient" to the little sisters. Sometimes he ate snacks in the afternoon and was still not hungry at dinner, but the sisters believed that he should eat more to have physical strength. He always looked at the sisters and then Obediently went to dinning room. "Compassionate and humble" were the most appreciated virtues of the founder. In spiritual practice, he often uses the sacrament of reconciliation to maintain deep communication with God; he often confess after Mass, sometimes several times a week. Isn't this a sign of humility? Once, because of his old age and poor mobility, he hoped that God would call him back as soon as possible. A priest replied
"It is God's holy will for you to live a few more years." Hearing this, he immediately showed a tame and acceptance attitude. "Either life or death, it is all for God" This is the highest humility. He liked to celebrate mass and Eucharist with the sisters. These words and deeds are derived from years of humble cultivation.

3. Poverty and carefulness:

Most of the luggage he brought to Taiwan was passed through and used when he was in the mainland. Although it was old, he did not discarded it; if the things used could be divided into two times, he would never used it up for just once; for convenience, the sisters often left the light on for him in the room, but he always reminded the sisters to turn off the light every time he left. He was very simple, but he had good things to share with others, seeing the sisters's happy face he smiled. Wasn't it also a sign of poverty when you sell your belongings and cultivate yourself in the mainland to maintain the existence of the seminary? In addition to the divine poverty, he was also very careful. Others forget to close the door due to negligence, and he often closed it. When in the mainland, he once saw dust on the sister's clothes, he immediately picked up the brush and cleaned it. He often noticed The needs of others never neglect the care for each sister.

4. Affinity and humor:
 He never considered himself as someone important. He always responded cordially. On the day he first arrived in Dounan, even though he was exhausted, he still hugged and kissed constantly. The caring heart and kind eyes made people feel deeply warmth. He had a heart of innocence and loves children. He always had candies in his pocket. When it was convenient to move, he came down to play with the children every day. The number of sweets gradually decreased, and he sat down happily after all the candies were finished, and let the children pull and pull his beard, always not getting bored, caress the child’s face for a while, pats the child’s head for a while, and the children jumpped around him. This touching moment whoever saw it would had a heartfelt smile. He liked to listen to people singing, especially light and lively songs. Every time he listened, he tapped his two thumbs to show joy; he also had the sense of humor of Saint Dominic, and often joked along with the sisters. The sisters hold up a red scarf and he put up two fingers to be a bull, having a great time. The sisters loved to see him laugh, and often played with him. He always catered to the sisters and entertained himself; he's a neat person and often trims his long beard; stroking his silver and beautiful beard had become a great pleasure for the sisters. Sometimes when sisters pulled his beard too hard, he was not angry, just smiled and gestured.

In-depth spiritual practice and the Spaniard's optimistic temperament are the reasons why he was so popular. Before coming to Taiwan, he still had some scruples. Before he came to Taiwan, every time during his feast day or birthday, there was a celebration for him. Although most of the sisters had never seen him, they had already respected and loved him and wanted to see him personally; When people first met him, everyone was unconsciously attracted by this "man of God", and naturally showed infinite affection. When he settled in Dounan, what the sisters saw and learned from him was more and more practical. He was  like a lamp shining in the dark, shining silently, not loud or strong, but it made  people feel warm and comfortable, and endless aftertaste.

 In the afternoon of May 6,1980, our Founder passed away peacefully at 2 o'clock.  A week before May, he broke his leg. He offered up this pain as a sacrificed as he walked through the last part of his life. His cause was "pneumonia inhalation. The priests, nuns, and faithful were all looking at him. He said: I saw many people in heaven waiting for me and their words were good. " He kept calling for "Jesus, Mary, and Joseph" When the priest left, he said in Spanish: "Thank you very much!" The manner of being polite and respectful was maintained until the end.

He was peaceful without a trace of struggle or pain, as if he was asleep; looking at his kindly appearance, faith and hope for resurrection came spontaneously. The funeral ceremony was held at 2 pm on May 19th. All the bishops of all the dioceses in Taiwan attended the funeral, except for Archbishop Luo due to illness. The funeral mass was celebrated by Archbishop Yanwen. After the Mass, Bishop Di gave a speech of thanks, and Father Lin Shaocang of Dounan talked about Founder's life story.The funeral had 15 groups and the team is more than one kilometer long. Passing through the liveliest streets in Dounan, pedestrians stopped to pay their respects. This was the most grand Catholic funeral ceremony in Dounan. Once, the bishop's self-denial, loyalty and diligence during his lifetime, and now this grief and honor after death, could be said to complement each other. Dounan Holy Trinity Cemetery is the resting place for our Founder. It is not far from the congregation, where the sisters could come to pay their respects at any time. After the death of our Founder, Father Gao Shiqian offered mass and prayed together with the sisters. He recalled the past sixty years and felt that life was like a post. What could be nostalgic for? The Founder had been adhering to the spirit of God throughout his lives│Holding the truth, cherishing benevolence, and living diligently for the Lord for 92 years. Now he seeks benevolence and gains benevolence, and believes that God will give him the most glorious reward.

  Our Founder's love for China and for the congregation he founded is always here "I always pray for the benevolent Father to bless you, so that you can faithfully serve the Lord in the Chinese church and bless the people." This is what he said when he was in Spain. Now in heaven he must also be fruitful. He himself was a foreign priest, but he had dedicated his precious life to China. As a member of the congregation founded by him│Chinese Dominican Sisters, shouldn’t we imitate the spirit of the founder and dedicate ourselves to the Chinese church?  Offer our lives, work, preaching, charity, education, etc., to serve diligently on the land of China that God has arranged for us. May the founder's morals always exist in our hearts and be expressed in our lives; may the hope he left in his will be finally achieved│"May the people I know in this world gather together in heaven one day."

March 4, 1995