09/19/2023, 17.31
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In Xi'an Franciscan Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart celebrate their centenary

Founded in 1923 on the day in which the stigmata of Saint Francis are remembered, the institute is the first female religious order in Shaanxi. Despite the many trials experienced in the 20th century, it has kept its charism alive. Currently, it has 240 members in various Chinese provinces. Bishop Dang Mingyan urges them to carry out their mission “starting afresh from the Sacred Heart of Jesus.”

Xi'an (AsiaNews/Agencies) – In Xi'an (Shaanxi province), the Franciscan Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus celebrated the centenary of their foundation last Saturday.

Xinde, a Chinese-language Catholic website, reports that almost a thousand people joined in the event, including seven of Shaanxi’s bishops, 120 priests and over 240 Sisters, who  also minister in other Chinese provinces.

The Franciscan Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus were founded on 17 September 1923, the day on which the stigmata of Saint Francis of Assisi are remembered, by will Bishop Eugenio Massi, an Italian Franciscan then apostolic vicar in Shaanxi, and Mary Wang Wenqing, a Chinese Sister.

The order was the first female religious congregation in this Chinese province and could count on the great help of Blessed Armida Barelli from Italy in its first steps.

“She is a 28-year-old young [. . .] endowed with a true spirit of apostolate and sacrifice, and is providential for the foundation, management and life of the charity,” Bishop Massi said about the first superior.

“She never worries about the congregation’s poverty; on the contrary, she encourages us by saying: ‘Don't worry, monsignor, at least in the beginning sacrifices must be made. We are all happy with this poverty, and we want to profess it not only with the spirit but with the facts.’”

The Franciscan Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus survived the horrific trials of the 20th century in China, keeping their charism alive despite many difficulties. Now they minister in Shaanxi’s eight dioceses, as well as Shanzi, Shenzhen, Hubei, Guizhou and elsewhere.

In his homily, Bishop Anthony Dang Mingyan of Xi'an went over the congregation’s hundred years, encouraging its members to continue their journey.

“Continue your efforts,” he said, “living your institute’s charism, taking charge of the great mission of evangelisation, starting afresh from the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Know how to put new wine in new wineskins so that one day we may celebrate another centenary.”

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