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Mainland welcomes Year of Faith


BEIJING (SE): The opening of the Year of Faith in Catholic communities on the mainland has been marked with reflections on the martyrs of the past and the work done by missionaries in the founding of the Church in the country.

The diocese of Taiyuan marked the occasion with a Mass attended by over 2,000 people celebrated by Bishop Paulo Meng Ningyou and about 50 concelebrants on October 14, Fides reported.

The bishop’s pastoral letter for the Year of Faith was read out and a brief history of the five martyrs of the last century was given as an example of heroism in witnessing to the faith.

UCA News reported that special mention was made of Belgian Lazarist Father Vincent Lebbe, who arrived in China in 1910 and was the vicar general of the diocese, which marks its centenary this year.

A seminar was attended by around 100 scholars to discuss the impact of Father Lebbe’s life on the local Church, as he championed the call for the Church to give up its foreign protection and become a truly Chinese body.

Known by the name of Lei Mingyuan, his advocacy led to the 1919 missionary encyclical, Before he returned (Maxim Illud), by Pope Benedict XV, calling on missionaries to remember that their goal is to establish a local Church with local clergy, a task which must be done selflessly.

Father Lebbe also published the first Catholic newspaper in China, the Yishi Bao (Social Welfare Newspaper), which earned a reputation for accuracy and was widely read in the north part of the country.

It played a role in what is called the Lao Xikai Incident of 1916, when Father Lebbe denounced an attempt by the French consul to expand his country’s concession into Taijin.

The Yishi Bao was instrumental in having him sent back to France and getting Church authorities to support his resistance.

Father Francis Li, from Shaanxi Catholic Seminary, said that Father Lebbe gives a strong reminder that it is people who are central to development.

“There is an urgent need for the Catholic Church to expand its social influence and raise up… ethics to enhance peoples’ morality,” he noted.

Meanwhile, Fides reported that although it is the harvest season in the village of Xiaohan, many people left their fields to attend the opening of the Year of Faith.

Over 700 people in Xi’an attended the opening of the blessed year at a Mass celebrated by Bishop Joseph Dang Mingyan on the evening of October 11. Bishop Dang explained the meaning of the Year of Faith and the faith itself, as he presented the diocesan pastoral plan for this year and delivered a guide for the Year of Faith.

Harbin marked the occasion as Pope Benedict XVI offered the opening Mass at the Vatican on October 11.

The celebration included a seminar on the Year of Faith. The diocese has prepared plenty of material on the subject, including a special collection of all the documents from the pope and the Holy See for the year.

In the diocese of Haimen, in Jiangsu province, 445 people received the sacrament of confirmation on October 14, at a ceremony to mark the opening of the Year of Faith, Fides reported.

Bishop Joseph Shenbin celebrated a Mass for more than 1,000 people in the oldest church in the area, St. Paul’s.

The bishop said, “We made this choice in order to remember our journey of faith and the continuity of faith, which manifests itself in words, but also in gestures and concrete evidence, guided by the word of God. During the Year of Faith we need to strengthen our faith, to be salt of the earth and the light of the world.”

Haimen has over 400 years of history of the Catholic faith. It received one of the original six Chinese bishops ordained by Pope Pius XI at the Vatican in 1926.

Today, the diocese has more than 30,000 people, 10 priests and about 20 sisters of the Congregation of St. Therese, spread over 22 parishes.


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