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Holy Doors close around China

SHIJIAZHUANG (SE): “The Holy Door is closed, but the mercy of the Lord is upon us forever; the proclamation of the Lord’s mercy continues; the door of mercy in our hearts remains open forever; the work of mercy continues,” Fides reported in describing the spirit in which the Church in China ended the Jubilee of Mercy on 13 November.

Fides reported that from the immense steppes of Inner Mongolia, where six parishes held a special ceremony, to the south of Hubei and from the north of Hebei to the east coast of Wenzhou numerous initiatives took place during the Year of Mercy.

Faith Press said that the rite of the closing of the Holy Door became an occasion to make a brief summary of the activities during the Year of Mercy and express an ongoing commitment to continue the witness of mercy in everyday life.

Bishop An Shuxin, from Baoding in Hebei, presided at a solemn closing of the Holy Door ceremony at the popular Marian Shrine of Donglu, in the presence of thousands of people. It is one of the three designated shrines in the diocese for the Year of Mercy.

Bishop An described the gifts of mercy as being conversion, forgiveness and charitable outreach. “When we opened the Holy Door, the door of our hearts opened and will remain forever open thanks to the constant nourishment of the mercy of the Lord which filled us.”

He continued, “It purified us, strengthened us in faith and converted us. It has made us missionaries of his mercy. We, therefore, bring the message of the good news to all brothers and sisters, because the closing of the Holy Door indicates a new horizon in the life of the Church.”

In Jinan, the closing of the Holy Door was accompanied by the presentation of diplomas to the catechists in the diocese that had completed their three-year training course.

Bishop Zhang Xianwang recalled, “We opened five Holy Doors, organised pilgrimages, celebrated the first diocesan Youth Day, carried out numerous works of mercy and undertook many other initiatives.”

Bishop Zhang then prayed that in the future every word, every action may become a testimony to the mercy of God that has been bestowed on the people of the diocese.

In Yichang, Hubei province, it was recalled during the closing of the Holy Door that during the year 40 pilgrim groups had been organised, while other groups had travelled abroad to the Holy Land, Rome, France and Poland.

On top of that, hundreds of visits had been made to the sick, as well as to and elderly people, while a reception committee had been on hand at the entrance of the Cathedral of St. Francis for 24 hours a day right through the year to welcome people.

Suzhou, in Jiangsu province, has a special reason to celebrate, as during a pilgrimage to Rome a group had been received by Pope Francis in St. Peter’s Square. The group described it as “an extraordinary grace of God.”

In Inner Mongolia more than 30,000 people had crossed the threshold of the Holy Door and over 6,000 made a pilgrimage abroad, mostly to Rome or the Holy Land.

A series of testimonies marked the closing of the Holy Door in Hanzhong, Sha’anxi. They confirmed their determination to be missionaries of mercy in their lives so that the door of mercy in our hearts may remain open forever.

In Xichang, in the province of Sichuan, the closing ceremony of the Holy Door was marked with the conferral of a missionary mandate to all missionaries of mercy gathered for the occasion.

In Handan, over 10,000 people attended the Mass marking the closing of the Jubilee at the parish of Our Lady of the Graces Church.

Bishop Joseph Sunjigen, together with the retired Bishop Stephen Yang, presided at a ceremony in which four deacons were ordained priests.

AsiaNews reported that the parents of the newly-ordained priests were moved when they saw their sons prostrated on the floor. “Children are God’s gifts and we are not afraid to offer them to him,” they said.

Two of them had studied theology in Manila and the other two did all their formation in Handan and Hebei.

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