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Catholics shrug off heat for Assumption

City Catholics welcome rural co-worshippers

An Assumption feast Mass in Changzhi diocese, in Shanxi province 

An Assumption feast Mass in Changzhi diocese, in Shanxi province
  • ucanews.com reporters, Bazhong and Xingtai
  • China
  • August 16, 2011
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At this time of year in Sichuan province, daytime temperatures can hit 39 degrees and air-conditioned churches are few and far between. But this does not deter the many Catholics who want to celebrate the feast of the Assumption.

Rural Chinese Catholics have a great love for the Blessed Mother and this is clearly evident on Assumption Day, one of China’s four main Church festivals.

“It’s also the most tiring time for our priests who have several parishes to manage, because transport is far from satisfactory in the Sichuan Basin. In general, it takes them a week to complete the celebrations in the different parishes,” said Teresa Wang, a Church worker in Nanchong diocese.

Although these practicalities extend the times of the feast, Catholics do try to get to church on Assumption Day itself, August 15. Many wake before dawn, while it is still relatively cool, to get to morning Mass.

This year in Bazhong parish, about 60 to 70 people left home the day before to be sure of reaching the nearest church on time. The city of Bazhong is in a mountainous region, as much as 2,500 meters above sea level, and the majority of its Catholics live in the remotest areas.

“It’s not easy for them to celebrate a feast day together,” said Father Peter Luo Bing, the parish priest. “Another difficulty is that the church does not have sufficient places for overnight accommodation.”

“But this year, for the first time, parishioners in the city took the initiative to invite their brothers and sisters to stay at their homes,” he said. “It showed the city Catholics’ care for their rural fellows and gave everyone an opportunity for exchange and friendship.”

The priest, who was ordained last year, hopes the city parishioners will be inspired to perform more loving acts after this experience. And Teresa, who is a city dweller, echoed his hopes. “We should show more concern to our fellow Catholics in the rural areas,” she said. “This should not be limited to helping their faith to grow but also helping their needs in life.”

“By reaching out with hands of friendship, this is the best gift for God,” she said.

In another example of Assumption Day devotion,  Father Joseph Liang Chongbo and a group of catechists welcomed 20 catechumen to the Kongxiaoying parish in Hebei province, so they could all celebrate the feast together.

“Our catechists are highly motivated in their evangelization,” said Father Liang. “They woke up at four in the morning and drove their mini vans to pick up all the catechists who live in faraway villages, so they could come for morning Mass.”

END

Related reports:

Lone woman brings Tibetans to Catholicism

Catholics mourn on Assumption Day

Assumption Day praise for Chinese laywomen
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