Macao (Agenzia Fides) - The Jesuits have been present in Macao for 450 years and continue today to carry out precious work of evangelization, human and Christian formation, social commitment and in the field of education. The "Society of Jesus" in 2012 celebrates 450 years of its presence in Macao.
On August 24, 1562, Fr. Luís Fróis SJ and Fr. Giovanni Battista Del Monte SJ arrived and settled here in Macao and started the work of the apostolate. The two Portuguese Jesuits arrived to help two diocesan priests engaged in pastoral service to 5,000 residents in Macao at the time, 600 were Portuguese. They arrived with Diego Pereira, a successful merchant, who was appointed Portuguese Ambassador to the Court of Peking. In 1565, the Provincial of the Jesuits, António de Quadros, gave instructions to build a permanent residence of the Society of Jesus in Macao. The first Bishop of Macao (1568 to 1581) was the Portuguese Jesuit Melchior M Carneiro, who founded a leper-house and the "Santa Casa de Misericordia".
Today, after the return of Macao to China in 1999, Catholics have the opportunity to weave fruitful relations with the Church in China and the Jesuits are committed to "building bridges" of dialogue and reconciliation. The territory of Macao (Special Administrative Region of the Chinese Popular Republic, with a regime of partial autonomy from China) constitutes the diocese of Macao, immediately subject to the Holy See. The Catholic population has about 20,000 people out of a total of 400,000 inhabitants. (PA) (Agenzia Fides 28/4/2012)