Zhouzhi (Agenzia Fides) - On the day when the Catholic Church celebrates the liturgical memory of Saint Thomas Aquinas, great theologian and Doctor of the Church, the Catholics of the diocese of Zhouzhi, in the Chinese province of Shaanxi, experienced with joy and gratitude the ordination of three new deacons, who will soon be ordained priests and will be able to fully live their priestly vocation at the service of their brothers and sisters and the entire local population.
The ordination liturgy of the three new deacons, celebrated in the cathedral on Saturday January 28, was presided over by Martin Wu, Bishop of Zhouzhi, who was appointed by the Holy See in 2005 and officially installed at the head of the diocese ten years after his ordination. About fifty priests took part in the liturgical concelebration, as well as parents of newly ordained deacons and numerous seminarians, nuns and lay people from the surrounding dioceses.
Two of the new deacons are only child. All three entered the Seminary after having had professional experience. Last September, the three new deacons had obtained their baccalaureate at the diocesan Seminary of the diocese of Beijing. After the ordination ceremony, all three thanked their families, the community and the entire Catholic Church in China for the many forms of support and comfort they received throughout their journey of formation and vocation, asking that the prayers of all continue to contribute to keeping alive in them the desire to work with joy and generosity to spread the proclamation of the Gospel and bear witness to faith in Christ in the places and environments where they will be called to exercise their pastoral work.
Currently, 57 priests serve some 70,000 baptized people in Zhouzhi Diocese. The life of the community revolves around pastoral initiatives, masses celebrated and the sacraments administered in 173 churches. In recent decades, the diocese has also distinguished itself by its missionary fervor: 290 priests and seminarians and 208 sisters from the diocese of Zhouzhi are currently working to announce the Gospel in other diocesan communities in the country. Ten continue their formation abroad, in France, Germany, Italy, the United States, England and the Philippines.
In the region which today constitutes the diocese of Zhouzhi, the famous "Nestorian stele" was discovered in 1625. It attests to the arrival of the Christian proclamation in China by the missionary monks of the Church of the East (of Nestorian ancestry) as early as 635 AD. The Shrine of the Mount of the Cross and the Shrine of Our Lady in China are located in the diocese.
On June 17, 1932, Pope Pius XI created the Apostolic Prefecture of Zhouzhi. In 1951, five years after the establishment of the Catholic Hierarchy in China, the ecclesiastical district of Zhouzhi was elevated to the rank of diocese. At that time there were 16 priests throughout the diocese, 14,000 baptized Catholics, 29 churches and 56 chapels. Zhouzhi Cathedral is dedicated to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. (NZ) (Agenzia Fides, 30/1/2023)