05/09/2016, 16.58
CHINA
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Three new priests for Wenzhou diocese

by Maria Yuan

Retiring Mgr Zhu Weifang, 90, ordains three new priests who plan to focus on families, vocations, seniors, the sick, and reach out to non-Christians.

Wenzhou (AsiaNews) – The diocese of Wenzhou (Zhejiang) has three new priests whose pastoral work will centre on new vocations, helping families, and reaching out to those do not believe.

Elderly Bishop Zhu Weifang led the ordination ceremony of Cai Zhengyou, Lin Yi and Song Shanxun on 30 April. More than 4,000 people attended the service, including representatives of the diocese.

Mgr Zhu and his priests have often spoken out against the campaign of destruction of the crosses and churches in Zhejiang.

Fr Ma Xianshi, the vicar general, and Fr Lin Shenli assisted the bishop in the liturgy, concelebrated by at least 35 priests. On 23 March, Mgr Zhu, 90, announced his retirement and delegated Church affairs to Fr Ma.

The new priests’ preparation followed a tortuous path. They began their studies in Tailaiqiao, on the outskirts of Shanghai, and then entered the regional seminary in Sheshan.

However, after the ordination of Mgr Thaddeus Ma Daqin and his resignation from the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association, the Sheshan seminary was closed, until further notice.

For this reason, the new priests had to continue their studies at the Hebei seminary until 2015. In all, their training lasted 11 years.

Still, “Today is a day of glory and the start of a mission with a heavy cross,” said newly ordained Fr Song. For this reason, he asked “the faithful to pray for them and show care and support” as they set off on their path of pastoral work.

Fr Lin said that his focus will be on families, who face great challenges in society, and married couples, providing counselling and pastoral outreach.

Fr Cai said that he wants to centre his work on hospice care and bereavement, especially among non-Catholics, to help people cope with such difficult moment.

All three new priests are from old Catholic families”, and their faith was passed on from their parents and ancestors. This has made them very conscious of the need to foster priestly vocations. Indeed, the seeds of vocation were sown in their hearts early on in their life under the guidance of priests.

Their spiritual director from Wenzhou diocese, and their teachers at Sheshan and Hebei seminaries attended the ordination liturgy, happy to express their joy at their students’ ordination.

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