“The superior man is active and vigilant all the day ...”


- Ceremony in Honor of Fr. Prof. Dr. Roman Malek, S.V.D.

On 3 October Fr. Prof. Dr. Roman Malek, S.V.D. celebrated his 65th birthday. His academic work was appraised in a ceremony held by the Monumenta Serica Institute in Sankt Augustin on 7 October.

“The superior man is active and vigilant all the day ...” – this quote from the Yijing (Book of Changes) provided an apt description of the impressive scholarly achievements of Fr. Roman Malek, S.V.D., which was presented and honored in a ceremony held on 7 October at the Divine Word Missionary Seminary, Sankt Augustin (Germany).

The work of Fr. Roman Malek is closely connected to two China-related institutions located at the Divine Word campus. From 1988–1998, he was Director of the China-Zentrum, a nonprofit organization for promoting exchange with the Catholic Church in the Chinese-speaking world. For almost twenty years, until he suffered a severe stroke in 2011, Fr. Roman Malek was at the helm of the Monumenta Serica Institute both as Director and Editor-in-chief of its publications. It was his academic endeavors and industrious net-working that established Sankt Augustin as the first point of call in Germany for sinological research on the historiography of Christianity in China and the formation of priests and nuns of the Chinese Catholic Church.

The very positive reception of the invitation to the ceremony testified to Fr. Malek’s worldwide contacts: Fr. Piotr Adamek, the successor of Fr. Malek as Director of the Monumenta Serica Institute, was delighted to welcome about 80 guests at this event, some of them coming from Austria, Switzerland, Italy, Belgium, the UK, Poland and even China to offer their best wishes to Fr. Roman Malek in person.

Keynote speaker Prof. Dr. Roderich Ptak (Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München) introduced the audience to the mysteries of a “Dog country” to be found on the world map of Matteo Ricci, S.J. (1552–1610). This lecture was followed by words of appreciation for Fr. Malek, including a presentation of photos illustrating his manifold academic activities, offered by the Editor-in-chief of the Monumenta Serica Institute, Fr. Zbigniew Wesołowski, S.V.D. and his collaborating editors of the Festschrift, Barbara Hoster and Dirk Kuhlmann. As a conclusion to the ceremony, the jubilarian received a preliminary copy of the two-volume publication. Father Malek delivered a short speech after that, expressing his gratitude to all contributors of the Festschrift as well as to the editors, the organizers of the ceremony, and to everyone present at this occasion.

The Festschrift Rooted in Hope. China – Religion – Christianity / In der Hoffnung verwurzelt. China – Religion – Christentum reflects the multiple research interests of Fr. Roman Malek: 40 authors from the academia and the Church provided various insights into the fields of Chinese intellectual history, the history of Christianity in China as well as its present state there, other religions in China, Chinese language and literature, and the cultural encounters between East and West. The contributions are in English (26 articles), German (12), and Chinese (2). The Festschrift will be published with Routledge in the first half of 2017.

Pictures Copyright ©  Ren Dayuan and Wolfgang Finke


The jubilarian, Fr. Roman Malek, was born in Bytów (Kashubia, Poland) on 3 October 1951. He entered the Society of the Divine Word (S.V.D.) in 1969. He moved to the S.V.D. Mission house at Sankt Augustin in 1976 to pursue a degree in Sinology, Japanology, Comparative religious studies and Church history at the nearby University of Bonn. He finished his studies in 1984 receiving a doctoral degree in Sinology. In 1998, Fr. Malek was appointed Professor of the History of Religions at the Philosophical-Theological Faculty S.V.D., St. Augustin. After completing his post-doctoral work (Habilitationsschrift) at the University of Bonn in 2003, he was engaged as a lecturer for Sinology there and at other universities until 2011.