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China embraces the Year of Faith

BEIJING (Agencies): Dioceses throughout China have embraced the challenge of Pope Benedict XVI to take up the study of the documents of Vatican II, which, because the country was living under a communication lockout during the days the council was taking place in the early to mid-1960s, is perhaps a bigger challenge than it is for any other Church.

The Constitution of the Church in the Modern World and the Decree on the Missionary Activity of the Church, two important documents of the Second Vatican Council, were taken as the subject of the second formation course of the Year of Faith in the diocese of Wenzhou, held on January 26.

Fides reported that 430 catechists and laypeople active in parish life took part in the day, together with priests and diocesan seminarians.

Five priests of the diocese explained the history of the council, the meaning of the two documents, the Creed, the meaning of the cross and the concept of evangelisation in the context of the Year of Faith.

In addition, priests and lay catechists were invited to deepen their own faith first and then transmit it to others.

According to the vicar general of the diocese, “There will be several formation courses for catechists and laypeople, because they are the guiding lights of the life of the Church in the Year of Faith. The revival of the Church depends on the laity.”

The first formation course was held on 24 November 2012, at the opening of the Year of Faith.

In Xianwen parish in Beijing, an in-depth catechetical formation for the seven sacraments and the importance of charitable works was held with a view to celebrating the Lunar New Year.

Fides reported that after a long and intensive preparation, 15 children received their first communion during a celebration on January 27.

The sister who supervised their formation emphasised, “Children are the future of the Church and therefore we will continue their formation even after their first communion to promote the future of the Church.”

On the previous day, January 26, the parish officially started its usual commitment of visits to families in need prior to the Lunar New Year, which was celebrated on February 10.

Despite the heavy snowfall, the parishioners, armed with three trucks loaded with supplies and under the guidance of the parish priest, started the visitation of 40 needy families in the remote areas of the countryside.

According to the pastor, “Our works are not limited to feasts or to a particular group of people. Each year we reach all needy families to bring the love of God.”

The parish of Xianwen has 400 years of history. For various reasons, the crumbling old church was demolished in 2001 and rebuilt in the middle of an industrial area, close to the Olympic Sports Centre.

The new church was consecrated on 24 April 2011 and officially opened on June 1 in the same year. The priest urged the people to “take advantage of our prime geographical position to bring the gospel among the people. Together with the other parishes we re-launch evangelisation.”

At Miraculous Medal parish in Beijing (West Church), every parishioner has made a commitment to donate two copies of the bible a month to a non-Christian during the Year of Faith to mark the special time.

Fides reported that by Christmas Eve, the first 700 copies of the bible were already in the hands of their recipients, along with a parish bulletin on the Church and other material.

The response has come already, with many of those who received a bible enrolling in the parish catechetical course.

The gift of the bible to a non-Christian is one of the parish initiatives that will last throughout the Year of Faith. The parish has also organised a concert, Light of Faith, for the promotion of vocations for the first 100 days of the Year of Faith.

In the second phase, around Easter, the main theme will be the promotion of the consecrated life of a sister. The third section will cover the life of the parish and parishioners have expressed the desire to celebrate it in collaboration with other parishes.

The parish was built in 1723 by Father Teodoricus Pedrini (1670 to 1746), a Vincentian missionary, who was dedicated to the Miraculous Medal, which is celebrated on July 16.

In Xingtai, in Hebei province, university students met under the theme of, Here I am Lord, from January 26 to 28.

Fides reported that a group of about 50 university students, made up of Catholic people and their guests from 40 universities in the province, followed a spiritual reflection on faith under the guidance of priests assisted by local seminarians.

“They made us feel the presence of the Lord among us,” one participant said. “They also helped us to understand the gifts that the Lord has given us to create a strong network of faith and how each element in this network is an effective tool for evangelisation, to increasingly expand this network of faith.”

The second day focussed on the personal experience of the life of faith in the light of the word of God—how to be a guide of basic ecclesial communities, so that these university students can become the guiding lights of their own communities and the environment in which they live.

During a Mass, personal and communal adoration and prayer, the priests helped young people to pray and to get closer to the Lord.

In the end, the students, full of spiritual strength and faith, committed themselves to another meeting and made a resolution to embark on an intense spiritual journey during the Year of Faith.

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