Augustinians of the Assumption

:: Quote of the Day ::

If you count simply on your own strength, you will certainly fall.
- Emmanuel d'Alzon

:: Prayer Request ::

You are invited to
Submit a Prayer Request

:: Photo Gallery ::


:: Follow us on... ::


Home WHO WE ARE Assumptionists Profiles Fr. JOSEPH ZHANG, A.A.



Fr. Joseph Zhang is a recently professed Assumptionist and the only one of two Chinese members of the Congregation at this time.  He is presently assigned to the Parish of St. Anne and St. Joachim in Sturbridge, Massachusetts, USA.  Fr. Claude Grenache, A.A., interviewed him.

- Joseph, we know that you came to us as a diocesan priest.  Can you tell us about your ministry in China?

-  I spent four years serving as the superior of a minor seminary and Pastor of three parishes. I was responsible for catechetical instruction in the Diocese. I also founded a youth group and served as chaplain for a convent of Sisters where I taught music.

That sounds like a very busy life.

- Yes, too busy.  I fell sick in 2007 and needed to take a year off.  I left everything behind and rented a room where I could read and pray.  I decided to study English to while away the time.  I did not know what God was preparing me for.

There are no Assumptionist communities in China.  So, how did you get to know us?

- That is a rather long and somewhat complex story. I got a chance to study English in Manila.  There I met Fr. Juan Carlos, A.A. who invited me to visit with the community.  I must say that I was reluctant to accept the invitation and I was not especially impressed when I finally went.  Then, as I was about to leave the Philippines and return to China, I went once more to the community.  I saw this “old” man on his knees washing the toilet.  I later realized that this was Fr. Bernard Holzer, A.A.  the superior of the community….I was shocked….and began to wonder what kind of spirituality animated these people who could live such a simple life.  Fr. Bernard told me that he was planning a trip to Beijing and would like to visit me there.  He gave me some books to read.  This was really an invitation from God and the seed of my call to religious life.  As we read in Psalm 139:  “For you formed my inward parts, you wove me in my mother’s womb.”

So you returned to China.  Did you resume your ministry there?

- No. In fact I fell sick again and needed hospital care.  That’s when I read the biography of Fr. d’Alzon, “Christ Is My Life”.  I needed to have the dictionary handy and didn’t understand much.  But I could not erase the image of that “old” man kneeling to clean the toilet.  I was extremely curious to find out more about what makes such a person tick.  I wanted to know more about the Congregation and the spirituality of the Assumptionists.   Another Psalm comes to mind:  “for your name’s sake you lead me and guide me.” (Ps 31:3)

But you were still far from any Assumptionist communities.  How did you keep in touch?

-  Well, as he had promised, Fr. Bernard called me from Beijing about two months later.  It was Pentecost Sunday.  I travelled seven hours to meet him.  He invited me to return to the Philippines and pursue my study of English there.  It took me a month to make up my mind and receive permission from the diocesan authorities.  I arrived in Manila on the last day of August, 2009.

I gather that this second experience with the Assumptionists solidified your vocation.

-  Yes.  I lived in the Martin Yen House, a residence for Asian students, and joined the community for meals and other activities.  I started to sense the spirituality of the Congregation and gradually began to understand that the “simplicity” I so admired was the result of efforts to be frank and open with each other.

- Is that when you decided to join?

- Yes.  Once I had received the authorization from my Diocese, I began the process and eventually made first profession on April 28, 2012.

Does it matter that we have no communities in China?

- My dream is to bring the spirituality of the Assumption to my country.  I tried to do that earlier but realized that I needed to have it before I could share it.  So I opened my heart to the Congregation and to Christ.  He brought the Kingdom of God to my heart through daily player, community life and the vows.  This has enabled me to surrender totally to Christ until I am formed by him.  I have studied the history of the Assumptionists in China and I dream of founding communities there in the future.

For the moment you are here in the USA working in a Parish.  How are you doing with this new assignment?

-  Let me quote another Psalm:  “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you.” (Ps 32)  I am here in order to experience the apostolic community life and service to the people.  The Congregation provides me a very special space for integrating my formation and my mission in Jesus Christ.

Thank you for this very honest and enlightening discussion.  Do you have a final word?

-  Yes.  I would like to take the words from 2 Corinthians 9:15:  “Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift.”  And respond with the words of Mary, the Mother of God:  “May it be done according to your word” and the motto of our Congregation:  “Your Kingdom come.”

© 2005-2018 Augustinians of the Assumption | 330 Market Street, Brighton, MA 02135 | Tel. 617-783-0400 | Fax 617-783-8030 | E-mail: