FENGXIANG (SE): Faith and evangelisation were the key words used by Bishop Lucas Li Jing Feng at a Mass celebrating the 80th anniversary of the foundation of the diocese of Fengxiang in the province of Shaanxi on November 17.
Fides reported that the festivities began on the evening of November 17 with prayer, adoration of the blessed sacrament and a procession around the church compound.
Forty-three priests joined Bishop Li at the concelebrated Mass, which was attended by around 800 people, including 43 seminarians and around the same number of sisters.
The bishop stressed the significance of celebrating the anniversary during the Year of Faith, as he traced the 80-year history of the diocese as being distinguished by its missionary zeal.
The bishop urged everyone present to continue their journey of faith in communion with the universal Church and to live the Year of Faith in the footsteps of the heroic missionaries who have left their footprints on the history of the diocese.
The apostolic prefecture of Fengxiang was erected on 5 November 1932. It became an apostolic vicariate on 9 July 1942 and a fully fledged diocese in 1946, the year the first Chinese bishops were ordained in Rome.
It is known for being the first prefecture to have a Chinese bishop in charge. Today, the diocese is divided into seven deaneries and 28 parishes. It has 19,876 Catholics on its books (2010), 38 priests, 18 of whom are religious, and 63 sisters from three congregations, the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary, Sisters of the Sacred Heart and Little Sisters of St. Therese.
The diocese was founded as a Franciscan mission and maintains a special devotion to St. Francis of Assisi. It houses two Marian shrines and a cemetery for priests.
The diocese also manages several social service agencies, including clinics and orphanages.