Taiyuan (AsiaNews) - Bishop Paul Meng Ningyou, 47, is the new coadjutor bishop of the diocese of Taiyuan (Shanxi). He was ordained this morning in the city cathedral by his ordinary, Bishop Li Jiantang. The new pastor tells AsiaNews that "the most important task for our diocese is formation. We once built big churches, and now it’s time we build the Church in our heart. "
The ceremony was attended by at least 120 priests - from Shanxi, Hunan, Hebei, Henan, Beijing, Shanghai and more than 5,000 faithful crowded the cathedral and outside courtyard.
Concelebrating with Mgr. Li Jiantang, were, Mgr. Huo Cheng of Fenyang bishop, Mgr. Li Jing of Ningxia, Mgr. Wang Jin Yuci (Jinzhong) Mgr. Meng Qinglu of Hohhot. All the bishops are recognized by the Holy See and the government. Bishop Meng is the seventh bishop to be ordained this year with the approval of the Holy See and Beijing.
During the ceremony, the newly ordained thanked his family for their support and urged all priests to be united among themselves. He also promised to undertake to govern his diocese in communion with the universal Church.
Mgr. Meng told AsiaNews that he hopes to develop more interest in faith and religion among people.
As Mgr. Li (ordinary) is quite elderly, since February 2010 Mgr. Meng has assumed increasing responsibility in leading the diocese.
He is very famous because he is perhaps the only priest that carried the Olympic torch during its journey to Beijing for the 2008 Olympics.
A native of Taiyuan, Mgr. Meng entered the minor seminary in 1984. He then studied at the seminary in Shanxi and the national seminary in Beijing. In 1991 he was ordained a priest and spent a long time teaching in the national seminary. Between 1994 and 1995 he was part of a Catholic Chinese delegation visiting Belgium, France, Hong Kong and South Korea to prepare study exchange programs among priests and formation workshops.
In 1996 he led a delegation of Catholics to Taiwan, breaking down the traditional division between Catholics on both sides of the Strait, which had lasted 47 years.
In 1999 the national seminary and the council of bishops sent him to study in Ireland and the University of Louvain (Belgium). Returning in 2004, he continued teaching in the national seminary.
In 2006 he was appointed vicar general and pastor of the Cathedral of Taiyuan. In 2007 he visited South Korea along with a delegation.
Taiyuan diocese has 25 parishes, 90 churches and chapels, 62 serving priests, including three elderly, two deacons, 23 sisters and 17 seminarians. There is around 80 thousand Catholic faithful.
In the diocese, there are two Marian pilgrimage sites: in Bansishan and a shrine dedicated to Our Lady of the Seven Sorrows, visited by pilgrims from different dioceses each year.
Evangelization began in Taiyuan in 1633. Taiyuan is also known for its martyrs. In 1900, during the the Boxers revolt, Franciscan bishops Gregory Grassi and Francesco Fogolla were killed, along with dozens of the faithful. They were beatified in 1947 and canonized in 2000.