03/30/2016, 11.58
CHINA
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Easter in China: Baptisms, staging the Passion, lunch for the poor

by John Ai

Despite a tense political climate, the country is celebrating thousands of new Catholics: at least 400 in Beijing alone, the same number in Wenzhou (where the crosses were torn down and churches destroyed). The young people of Tangshan stage the last hours of Christ in front of hundreds of moved spectators; the diocese of Xian provides a meal and a gift to the homeless: "The Church is my home and my light." Photos of the celebrations.

Beijing (AsiaNews) - Despite a very tense political climate, Easter this year saw thousands of baptisms throughout China. In Beijing alone 400 were celebrated in the four major diocesan churches: the Church of the Saviour (Bei Tang), the Immaculate Conception (Nan Tang Cathedral), the parish of Our Lady of Mount Carmel (Xi Tang) and the church of St. Joseph (Dong Tang). The highest number of baptisms wasin the northern province of Hebei, the Catholic "stronghold" of country.

In the diocese of Wenzhou - the eastern province of Zhejiang, infamous for the Party’s campaign to demolish crosses - 400 baptisms were celebrated. After several months of study and reflection, the catechumens were accompanied to the sacrament: most of them about 20 years old and from a Christian family. The Catholic community is very active in preaching the Gospel and in introducing people to the Church. Some, however, find their own way: a mother and her daughter say they looked online fir the address of the nearest parish, "and now we are surprised and joyful. Faith has brought us a happiness that we never felt before".

The diocese of Xian has also chosen this year to carry on its "culinary" tradition of offering lunch to hundreds of homeless people. They also prepared a small gift for their guests: Easter eggs, apples, candles and rosaries. The Catholic volunteers explained the meaning of the great celebration and that of the Cross, handing out colored cards to their guests who responded by writing their best wishes and expressing their love for God.

One of them wrote: "The Catholic Church is my home and my light. I wish all Christians a long and healthy life". Since it was first started the service "Sunday Love Kitchen" of the diocese provides a meal to the homeless every Sunday of the year, with special dishes and gifts during the holidays.

The Triduum liturgies were also packed. Priests from across China washed  the feet of the elderly, children and disabled people during Mass "in Cena Domini" on Holy Thursday, while young people of Nan Tang Xian church staged the Passion of Christ on Good Friday . The performance was organized by a youth theater company and greatly moved the audience. Even in Tangshan, Hebei province, local Catholics represented the Christ’s last hours of Calvary for hundreds of spectators.

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