New earthquake in China affects Catholic buildings in region of Sichuan

.- UCA News agency reported this week that the Diocese of Xichang in the Chinese province of Sichuan is helping victims and assessing damage to Catholic buildings after a 6.1 magnitude earthquake hit the region on August 30.

UCA news reported that the epicenter of the August 30 earthquake “was where Panzhihua city and Huili county meet in southern Sichuan, near the border with Yunnan province.

The official China Earthquake Administration reported on September 1 that the  Panzhihua-Huili earthquake had killed 36 people and injured another 506.

Xichang diocese, based in the city of the same name, 1,890 kilometers southwest of Beijing, covers the affected area.”  Father John Lei Jiapei, diocesan administrator, told UCA News that parish priests at Panzhihua and Huili “have gone to remote rural areas to check on the situation of local Catholics.”

Father Joseph visited the century-old church in Mugu on September 2 and said it had suffered some damage during the quake.  About 700 Catholics live nearby, and the priest holds Mass for them once a month.

Father John Wang Shengjun, a parish priest in Panzhihua, told UCA the Catholic community in Datian had been seriously affected by the quake. A number of homes were destroyed, although no one was hurt.

The community center was damaged in the quake and the priest's dormitory next to it is tilted, Father Wang reported. None of the 500 Catholics were injured, but a dozen of their homes were damaged or collapsed, he said.  Father Wang holds Mass once a month at Datian, but local Catholics gather on their own for the Way of the Cross on Fridays and prayer services on Sundays. "It is lucky that there was no Church activity when the quake hit," he said.

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