Beijing (Agenzia Fides) - Eliminate the worldly evils of which priests have contaminated themselves in the midst of society and return to the flock to exude the fragrance of the shepherd: these are the recommendations that Monsignor Joseph Shen Bin, Bishop of the Diocese of Haimen (Nantong), in the province of Jiangsu, in mainland China, addressed to his priests during the spiritual retreat in view of Christmas. During the four days of intense spiritual retreat, from December 14 to 17, the diocesan priests reflected and meditated on the priestly vocation, each starting from their own experience. They then addressed the theme of their relationship with God, with the community, with the faithful, with the Bishop and with their confreres. Furthermore, they also faced the excessive search for money, power, physical well-being of some priests. All the themes were the object of discernment, in the awareness of their own priestly vocation. The retreat was a spiritual renewal for everyone, according to the testimonies of the participants, who now feel ready to start again with the strength received from these intense days of encounter with the Lord, with the brothers in priesthood and with their Bishop, Monsignor Shen Bin.
The Diocese of Haimen (Nantong) is located in the eastern part of Jiangsu Province. It has recently celebrated the 95 years of its foundation and also the 95 years of the consecration of its first Bishop, Monsignor Simon Zhu Kaimin, who was one of the first 6 Bishops of Chinese origin consecrated by Pope Pius XI in St. Peter, on October 28, 1926, fruit of the intense pastoral work of Monsignor Celso Costantini, the first Apostolic Delegate to China. In his 30 years of episcopal ministry, Monsignor Simon Zhu built 156 churches (almost one for each village and district), as well as a hospital, school, home for the elderly, orphanage and many other social services, such as tools of evangelization. In July 1931 he also founded the congregation of the Sisters of Saint Teresa of the Child Jesus, which today has about thirty nuns active in the parishes, in the health and social fields. He was defined as "the apostle of Jesus, pillar of the Church". Currently this ecclesiastical district has more than 30,000 faithful, divided into 24 parishes, with 15 priests and about twenty religious. Even today, the diocese of Haimen is one of the most active communities in the pastoral and evangelization field. (NZ) (Agenzia Fides, 22/12/2021)