ASIA/CHINA - Because of the grain harvest: Bishop Sun Jigeng celebrates the Feast of the Sacred Heart in the village of Chaizhuangcun "in advance"

Thursday, 6 June 2024 local churches   sacraments   inculturation   farmers  

Handan (Agenzia Fides) - In Chaizhuangcun, a small village in the Chinese province of Hebei, the small Catholic community has already celebrated the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, which according to the liturgical calendar falls tomorrow, Friday, June 7. The Bishop of the Diocese of Yongnian (now Handan), Joseph Sun Jigeng, celebrated a Mass on Wednesday, June 5, with about a hundred parishioners in the Church of the Sacred Heart (see photo). "We are few," said the bishop in his homily, "but you have prepared the new altar, the ambo, the tabernacle and also the new baptismal font to express our faith and our desire to always work according to the will of the Lord Jesus and his Sacred Heart." The decision to celebrate the Feast of the Sacred Heart two days earlier in the church dedicated to him was made to meet the pastoral needs related to the beginning of the agricultural harvest season. Five priests concelebrated together with Bishop Joseph Sun and the new altar was also consecrated during the liturgy. The bishop was moved by the spirituality of the small community in the rural village, where everyone stopped the grain harvest for a day to attend the Mass on the occasion of the parish's patronal feast. The bishop also administered the sacrament of the anointing of the sick to the elderly present.

Since the beginning of June, farmers throughout Hebei Province have begun harvesting wheat. All pastoral practices are adapted to the rhythm of agricultural work.
The Diocese of Yongnian (now Handan) is a vibrant community with great missionary zeal. It is one of the largest dioceses in the province and one of the diocesan communities that has experienced significant growth in recent times. More than 190,000 Catholics live there, out of a population of 9.4 million. The proclamation of the Gospel in this area dates back to the Jesuit missionary Father Matteo Ricci. Yongnian was elevated to the rank of diocese in 1946. Currently, the diocese has more than 150 churches and chapels, around 150 priests and over 200 nuns from various congregations. In addition, the diocese runs several health centers, clinics and social facilities. (NZ) (Agenzia Fides, 6/6/2024)