ASIA/CHINA - Flourishing of vocations: Beijing seminary awards degrees to thirteen theology and seven philosophy students

Tuesday, 9 July 2024

Beijing (Agenzia Fides) - At the end of the 2023/2024 academic year, the Beijing seminary awarded degrees to thirteen theology and seven philosophy students.

According to official information from the seminary, the 13 seminarians of the year 2016 have completed a total of eight years of study. Another seven students of the Faculty of Philosophy began their studies in the 2021 academic year.

The ceremonial award of the degree included a concert with the theme of Thanksgiving as a synodal sign, a solemn Eucharist and the closing ceremony presided over by Auxiliary Bishop Joseph Li Shan.
The Bishop of the Diocese of Hanzhou (Shaanxi Province), Stephen Xu Hongwei, and 10 diocesan vocation officers concelebrated together with Bishop Li Shan. In community with those attending the service, the sending of the seminarians into the mission was celebrated on Sunday, July 7.

Through the musical narration of their vocational journey, the seminarians expressed their gratitude to the Lord, the bishops, the priests and the faithful who have accompanied them all these years with prayer and concrete spiritual and material help. All the students expressed their gratitude for the commitment of the Diocese of Beijing.

During the closing Mass of the school year, Bishop Joseph Li Shan awarded the 20 new graduates their diplomas and the four seminarians who passed the self-study exam specializing in Chinese language and literature at the National High School for Adults their diplomas.

The homily focused on the themes of "gratitude" and "perseverance" in reference to the Gospel text "You did not choose me, but I chose you" (John 15:16). At the end of the course, the vocational path continues, even becoming more difficult. "Only with gratitude and perseverance can we entrust our past to the mercy of God, our present to the love of God and our future to the providence of God."

The seminarians come from different dioceses, so representatives and officials of the respective dioceses attended the awarding of the diplomas. For example, Bishop Stephen Xu, who gave the solemn missionary mandate to the seminary graduates during the Sunday Mass on July 7.

In 1980, shortly after the reopening of the church, which had been closed for about 20 years, the preparatory seminary of the Diocese of Beijing resumed its activities in the small courtyard of the parish (then cathedral) of the Immaculate Conception, the church built by the Jesuit missionary Father Matteo Ricci. About a dozen young men were welcomed at that time, ready to consecrate themselves to the Lord. In 1989, faced with the growing number of vocations, the seminary was transferred to the Cathedral of the Savior in Beijing, and in 1992 it was moved again to another location for the same reason. Finally, in 2001, the current building of 476 square meters was built and inaugurated. According to the statistics provided by the seminary in 2021 - the year of its 40th anniversary - the Beijing seminary has formed a total of more than 320 seminarians, not counting those who will graduate in the current year, and ordained 187 priests and three bishops.
Currently, 70 seminarians are studying theology, three of them abroad.

In addition to the normal courses for seminarians, the seminary also offers numerous formation courses for religious sisters and lay people. Academic activities are also numerous. The area where the seminary is located is called the "university district" of Beijing. (NZ) (Agenzia Fides, 9/7/2024)