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Ordinations end Shanghai Diocese's celebration of 400 years of evangelization

.- Shanghai diocese capped its nine-month celebration of the 400th anniversary of Catholicism's arrival with the ordination of two priests.  During the ordination, the bishop reminded the congregation, that though the anniversary celebration has ended, Catholics in China must continue to "spread the Gospel to those who have never heard of it."

Auxiliary Bishop Joseph Xing Wenzhi of Shanghai ordained Fathers Joseph Li Gangyao and Joseph Xu Ruhao on Dec. 6 at St. Ignatius Cathedral in the downtown Xujiahui district of the city, 1,080 kilometers southeast of Beijing. Both graduated from Sheshan Regional Seminary on the outskirts of Shanghai, reports UCANews.

About 2,000 Catholics, including relatives of the new priests, attended the ordination Mass, which 87 priests from local and neighboring dioceses concelebrated.

With the ordination of Father Li, Shanghai diocese now has 75 diocesan priests. Father Xu was ordained for Anhui diocese, to the west.

Bishop Xing told the congregation that although the anniversary celebrations have come to a close, "our mission does not end today, but rather it marks a new impetus for us to spread the Gospel to those who have never heard of it."

Noting that the universal Church is now in the midst of celebrating a Pauline Year, Bishop Xing urged the congregation to model themselves after Saint Paul the Apostle in evangelizing zeal.

Pope Benedict XVI declared June 28, 2008, to June 29, 2009, as the Year of Saint Paul.

During the ordination rite, Bishop Xing encouraged the new priests to learn to be good shepherds like Jesus Christ, who "comes not to be served but to serve, and to search for the lost."

Father Li told UCA News two days later that he knows many Catholics have been praying for him and will "work hard to evangelize as a gesture of thanks." He added that he would look toward the early missioners to China as role models.

Bishop Aloysius Jin Luxian of Shanghai had asked Catholics to intensify evangelization efforts to mark this year's landmark anniversary. In a pastoral letter he issued in December 2007 to announce the celebration, he also urged them to renew themselves spiritually, especially in response to the pope's call for prayers to Our Lady of Sheshan on May 24, the feast day of the Sheshan Marian shrine.

The elderly bishop is currently in poor health.

The Catholic Church began in Shanghai in 1608, when Paul Xu Guangqi, the first Shanghai Catholic, invited Italian Jesuit Father Lazare Cattaneo to preach here. About 200 people received baptism during the priest's two-year stay, and the first Catholic church was built near Xujiahui.

The diocesan celebrations of the anniversary, which began on March 1, included pilgrimages to the Sheshan shrine in May and a seminar on evangelization in September.

On Oct. 30, an exhibition of about 100 photos linked to local Church history opened at the cathedral. Tours to 30 parishes that will go until May 30, 2009, were also launched.

Another anniversary event, the first-ever diocesan choral concert, was staged at the cathedral on Nov. 15, the diocesan website reported. About 1,000 laypeople, priests, seminarians and nuns, as well as local and foreign tourists, attended the performance.

Father Antonius Li Xiaowei, the organizer of the concert, told UCA News each of the diocese six deaneries, or parish groupings, sent a choir to participate. The hymns were grouped under three themes: Remembering the Past, Expressing Thanks for the Present and Looking to the Future.

As examples of songs in the first category, he cited the Latin hymn Sicut Cervus (as the deer), performed by a youth choir, and the Chinese Shepherd Song, sung by some priests. These hymns depicted how the early missioners "brought the Good News to China, but were at times barred from entering the country," he explained. "We Chinese became thirsty for God, just like the deer that searches for the spring."

Today, he said, the Chinese people are still thirsty for God, a sentiment that was expressed in Chinese hymns such as Thirst for God and God Reads My Heart.

Before the anniversary celebrations began in March, the diocese had already launched a one-year evangelization formation program for 80 lay Catholics. On Jan. 19, each participant received a certificate after completing courses on the Bible, Church dogma and history, liturgy and evangelization skills.

The original article can be found here: http://www.ucanews.com/2008/12/10/ordinations-end-shanghai-dioceses-celebration-of-400-years-of-evangelization/

Printed with permission from UCANews: http://www.ucanews.com/


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