02/02/2011, 00.00
CHINA
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Chinese Catholics celebrate the Year of the Rabbit with candlelight vigils and prayer

by Zhen Yuan
The vigil for the New Year begins this evening. The community of Taiyuan (Shanxi) braves the cold and a procession to bring Jesus among the people.

Taiyuan (AsiaNews)-Despite the bitter cold of the New Year, Msgr. Ningyou Meng, coadjutor bishop of Taiyuan (Shanxi) and his community, prepared a candle-light procession to symbolize the witness to Jesus among people.

Chinese zodiac is based on a cycle of 12 years and each year is assigned an animal. 2011 is the Year of the Rabbit, which starts tomorrow and ends in 2012.

Msgr. Meng was ordained a bishop in September 2010. The prelate told AsiaNews that this evening, the diocese will celebrate a Mass of thanksgiving for the past year. It will start at 6pm with adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, followed by a torchlight procession through the streets of the city and ends with the celebration of the Eucharist in the cathedral.

"Tomorrow, the first day of Lunar New Year, we will celebrate five Masses - says the prelate - Many Catholics will go to church to give thanks for the new year and exchange greetings." It 's always nice to meet our people - he adds - especially those working or studying in other cities. "

Msgr. Meng has been bishop for about five months and admits that his new life so far has been full of joy, happiness and difficulties. The prelate says that the responsibilities are heavy, but he is determined to address all issues. In recent months, five  formation courses for priests and lay people were carried out and many others will be held in the new year.

"I only do my best to provide formation for young priests and lay people - the bishop - hoping that the seeds planted now will develop better in the future. Moreover, unity and communion among priests and lay Catholics is very important for the Church even if it is not easy. "

Many dioceses, including Taiyuan, have organized teams of volunteers these days to visit the sick and poor, by distributing food and clothes. Other communities have also visited the parents of priests, seminarians and nuns, thanking them for giving their children to serve the Church.

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