Sister Li Ching (Lekheng) Chen

Sister Li Ching Lekheng, M.M.

Current Ministry Location-Tanzania

Sister Li Ching, from Chang Hua, Taiwan, entered Maryknoll in 1979. She grew up in a traditional religious family that was a mixture of Dao and Buddhism  When she was 21, she encountered Christianity. Inspired by the story of Jesus, she chose to follow in His footsteps. Maryknoll Sisters were her companions in her journey. “They witnessed that they had Jesus’ DNA in their blood and compassion flowed through their feelings of tenderness, passion, tears and profound prayer. In my search for deeper religious life, I was drawn to the Maryknoll Sisters because I felt I could share the common humanity of who I was/am.”

Sister Li Ching was a bookkeeper and catechist before she entered Maryknoll. She studied at a catechetical and social training center in Taiwan and at Xavier University in the Philippines. She earned a B.A. in religious studies from the College of Our Lady of the Elms, with a minor in art therapy.

Sister Li Ching went to Tanzania in 1981. She was a teacher in primary schools and gave domestic science courses and visited and supported women who suffered from being ostracized because of witchcraft. Sister Li Ching also trained religion teachers and encouraged young women to further their secondary education. She was one of the pioneer Sisters in Kalebejo who started Project VEMA, an integrated approach to education, development and health for village people. She also trained AIDS workers and gave AIDS prevention education with her staff, visiting people and listening to them and praying with them.

Sister Li Ching supervised a drop-in center for the well-being of the children in the Chabilisa refugee camp in 1994, when more than half a million Rwandans, mostly Hutu, fled to Tanzania. She helped unaccompanied minors to be fostered in the camp, and through the International Red Cross, to be reunited with their families in other camps.

“My life was more intense and my faith was challenged,” Sister Lekheng said. “I sang lamentations to God each day, and it was God’s grace that sustained me through each day’s difficulties.” Sister Li Ching trained the refugee youth to be community workers and teachers. The drop-in center was operated as a study center, and emphasis was placed on helping the youth remember their roots. Art was used to generate income and as a way of communication. Sister Li Ching reflected, “Do the Rwandans still believe in God, still seek God? Yes, they believe in God, the God they are seeking is the God who is forgiving and comforting.” Sister Li Ching was commended by the Secretary General of the Tanzania Episcopal Conference for doing an excellent job in running the Center.

Sister Li Ching went to Hawaii in 2002 and took clinical pastoral education at the Pacific Health Ministry. She returned to Tanzania and worked as a trainer for student supervisors in Bugando Hospital. She also worked with other Maryknoll Sisters in Mwanza, Tanzania. At the Shalom AIDS outreach center, she facilitated the AIDS teachers training program and a workshop for youth.

Sister Li Ching joined another Maryknoll Sister in Morogoro, Tanzania, in 2009, and she is there today working with deaf children.