From China to Ireland – Frt Yanbo Chen SVD

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I’m Yanbo Chen. Chen is my surname, and Yanbo is my first name. According to the traditional culture of China, we always put the surname before the given name, so you can also call me Chen Yanbo. Moreover, some of my friends prefer to call me Joseph which is my baptismal name.

I joined the Society of the Divine Word (SVD) in Shijiazhuang, the capital of my province Hebei, China, in 2010 at the age of 23. Unfortunately, I was all alone, but professed my first vows in 2012. In September of the same year, I was sent to a seminary to complete a year’s theology study in my home city. Then on 9th April 2014 I came to Maynooth to study English and then continue my unfinished theology.


I stayed at our Language School in Maynooth for a year. On the whole, it was a bittersweet time for me, because language studying is always a tough thing for me. However, apart from studying the language in class, I also got to learn a lot about this country and its traditional culture through the visits and excursions to many different places organized by the school. On the other hand, however, I found sometimes there were also moments of spiritual loneliness and helplessness during this period. There wasn’t a particular person who was responsible for my formation at that time. Therefore, after a couple of months staying in Maynooth in our house, Fr. Vincent Twomey, who is the rector of Maynooth community, sent me to live in St. Patrick’s College, saying that it would be better for me to live with some young people. I was glad because I was living together with another Chinese confrere in the college as a tiny “community” of SVD. Then once I started my theological study, a person was appointed as a formator to look after me and Joseph as well. Unfortunately, just one year later, the new formator Fr. Timothy Lehane was elected to be the Provincial of IBP Province. So, Congratulations! However, during this year of formation, Fr. Tim did his job very responsibly and effectively. And everything is going well so far in terms of our formation.

Now, I am doing my last year of theological study, and there is also a new formator Fr. Bartłomiej Parys, who was appointed in 2016.  So, I am very grateful to the IBP Province for all the efforts and work which have gone into my formation. 

  • Frt. Joseph with his SVD friends from China.
  • Featured Photo: China, Church in Wangzhuang built in 183 © Jan Zwolski (

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