Radio Veritas Asia was established primarily for the Silent Churches. In 1958, when the bishops of Southeast Asia met, conditions of extreme religious restrictions in China impelled them to put up a shortwave radio station to further the cause of evangelization. Thus the conception of RVA began.
Radio Veritas Asia was inaugurated on April 11, 1969. Two months later, the Mandarin Service was born. The fledgling radio station operated for more than three years. By June 1972, one of the shortwave transmitters broke down completely and had to remain defunct due to the lack of spare parts. On the 18th of August, 1973 the remaining transmitter went dead and the Overseas Department of Radio Veritas was officially declared close.
Rehabilitation work for the re-establishment of the Mandarin Service began in 1974. In the same year, the new Archbishop of Manila, Jaime Cardinal Sin requested Fr. Ismael Zuloaga to put back the Mandarin Service in the airwaves. Throughout his ministry as Archbishop of Manila, Cardinal Sin has given unconditional support to the broadcast.
Fr. Ismael Zuloaga, in his concern for the Silent Churches, was to become the Shepherd and the patriarch of the re-born Mandarin Service.
In 1949, the Communist regime took over Mainland China. The authorities forbade religious freedom resulting into the expulsion of foreign Missionaries in 1952. Restrictions on the practice of faith was severely imposed. It was primarily for this reason that Radio Veritas Asia was established – April 11, 1969 – and two months after the station’s inauguration, the Mandarin Service began its initial broadcast.
A historical snippet, taken from a Radio Overseas Newsletter, dated May 1969, describes the new broadcast – “A Chinese program would be on the air soon, starting June 15… a new program will be aired daily for fifteen minutes. The broadcast will be under the Overseas Department and will all be in Chinese – ranging from Mandarin, Cantonese, Amoy to Fukienese. Each program will last for 15 minutes. They will be non-political, mainly religious, cultural and educational. The producer will be Mrs. Lim, a Chinese-born economics graduate from the Peking University. Mrs. Lim was recommended to Radio Veritas Overseas by Msgr. Tsao, parish priest of St. Jude.”
Unfortunately in the year 1973, the Overseas broadcasts of Radio Veritas ceased operations due to technical problems.
In September 1973, The Apostolic Nuncio to the Philippines, Msgr. Bruno Torpigliani initiated moves for the revival of Radio Veritas. Rehabilitation work began in 1974.
In the same year, during which time the Cultural Revolution was about to end in China, Cardinal Jaime Sin, the newly appointed Archbishop of Manila requested Fr. Ismael Zuloaga to produce again Chinese programs for Mainland China Christians. Significantly, Fr. Zuloaga was to become the Shepherd and patriarch of the broadcast that sought to reach millions of listeners. Out of concern for the Silent Church in China, he was able to find interested and committed overseas Chinese parishioners in Manila. They worked to put back the Mandarin Service in the airwaves. It was the second birth of the Mandarin broadcast.
It was on September 15, 1976 that test broadcasts for the Mandarin Service began. The programs were beamed to Southeast Asia.
With the success of the Mandarin broadcast to Southeast Asia, a meeting was held to prepare for a program to be beamed to Continental China. People with knowledge and experience in this apostolate were invited from Hong Kong and Taiwan, and some from the Philippines also joined in the discussions. The initiative for this project was taken by His Eminence Jaime L. Cardinal Sin, who throughout his ministry as the Archbishop of Manila, has lent substantial support to the radio apostolate. On November 5, 1978 test broadcasts were launched for the Mandarin service for East Asia. On December 1, 1978, it became a full program.
Aware of the importance of the Mandarin program in the life of Catholics in China, Fr. Zuloaga invited producers from Hong Kong and Taiwan in July 1977 to work together for the programs. In 1984, due to the lack of personnel in Manila, the Jesuits in Taiwan assumed more responsibility in the production of the programs, especially the post-Vatican theological formation programs for the Church leaders in China.
The Jesuits also helped to set up the Mandarin Production Center in the Kuangchi Program Service, located in Taipei, Taiwan. In 1992, the Production Center was moved to Tien Educational Center, Taipei. There, the Jesuits continued to supervise the program productions until members of the Society of Divine Word took over in 1996. From that time on, until the present, the congregation of the SVDs has generously supported the Mandarin Service. A work place for the production of programs has also been provided in Hsientien, Taipei.
In 2004, the daily Church News Program was added to the broadcast. Some Chinese seminarians and nuns who are studying in Manila are actively involved in the preparation of this program.
The main goal of the RVA Mandarin Service to broadcast programs to all Christian listeners in Mainland China to introduce ,sustain and nurture the faith that is being quelled since the Communist take-over in 1949. All foreign missionaries in China were expelled in 1952.