ASIA/CHINA - Pope Francis erects the diocese of Weifang. New Bishop consecrated today

Monday, 29 January 2024

Weifang (Agenzia Fides) - "Thank the Lord, everything went very well"! That was the first reaction of many Catholic faithful in the diocese of Weifang, the new diocese erected by Pope Francis. Today, Monday, January 29, Anthony Sun Wenjun was consecrated Bishop of the new Diocese. The Bishop of Linyi, John Fang Xingyao, presided over the solemn consecration, which was concelebrated by the Bishop of Zhoucun, Joseph Yang Yongqiang, and the Archbishop of Jinang, Joseph Zhang Xianwang. The Bishop of Yanzhou, John Lu Peisen, and the Bishop of Qingdao, Thomas Chen Tianhao, also took part in the consecration mass. The five bishops lead the dioceses in Shandong Province. 44 priests and more than 330 religious and lay faithful also took part in the consecration liturgy.
"In the desire to promote the pastoral care of the Lord's flock and to attend more effectively to its spiritual good", reads the statement released by the Holy See Press Office, "the Supreme Pontiff Francis decided to suppress in mainland China the Apostolic Prefecture of Yiduxian, which was erected on June 16, 1931 by Pope Pius XI, by carving out its territory from the Apostolic Vicariate of Zhifu (now the diocese of Yantai) and at the same time to erect the new diocese of Weifang, suffragan in Jinan, Shandong Province, with its episcopal see in the Cathedral Church of Christ the King".
In this context, "the Supreme Pontiff appointed Rev. Anthony Sun Wenjun, Diocesan Administrator of the same Circumscription as the first Bishop of the new diocese". "In the framework of the Provisional Agreement between the Holy See and the People's Republic of China", Rev. Anthony Sun Wenjun was appointed "Bishop of Weifang, Shandong Province of China by the Holy Father on April 20, 2023".

Who is the new Bishop

Anthony Sun Wenjun is the second Catholic Bishop to be ordained in the People's Republic of China in the last five days. He was born in November 1970. He studied at Sheshan Seminary in Shanghai from 1989 to 1994. He was ordained a priest in 1995 at the Beijing Cathedral. He then undertook pastoral service in Shandong from 2005 to 2007. Between 2007 and 2008, he stayed in Ireland to continue his formation. He later returned to Weifang and continued his ministry here.

The intense ecclesial life of the diocese

The history of the Diocese of Weifang, former Apostolic Prefecture of Yiduxian since 1931, is linked to the evangelizing mission carried out there by the French Franciscans. The diocese had been without a bishop ("sede vacante") since 2008.
During the years of vacancy of the episcopal see, the diocesan ecclesial community continued to lively express, in a spirit of unity, its following of Christ and its passion for the proclamation of the Gospel in communion with the Pope and the Church of Rome.
During the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy, proclaimed by Pope Francis (December 8, 2015 - November 20, 2016), the community focused on the reading of the Holy Scripture. Bible courses were organized throughout the year, attended by people of all ages.
'Contests on the Word of God' and 'Concerts of Mercy' were also organized in that Jubilee Year.
The diocesan female Congregation of the Sisters of the Immaculate Conception is active in the diocese and is very present in the pastoral care of parishes and in the promotion of social works.
In 2005, some of them participated in the Meeting of the Chinese Catholic Commission for Charitable Work and Social Services, entitled 'Taking Care of Society'. On that occasion, Sister Zong Huaiying emphasized that despite the difficulties and lack of resources, it was still possible to carry out good social work "with God's blessing". (Agenzia Fides, 29/1/2024)