Chinese delegates prepare for trip to World Youth Day
First group from China since 1995
China's 16-member delegation to World Youth Day in Rio de Janeiro visits Hong Kong Cathedral on Tuesday
A group of Chinese Catholic delegates to World Youth Day in Brazil gathered today in Hong Kong for formation exercises ahead of their departure tomorrow for Rio de Janeiro.
A group of 16 delegates from 10 dioceses across China will attend the event, which runs from July 23-28.
“It is the first time that such a delegation has attended from China,” said organizer Elizabeth Zhang.
An official Chinese delegation attended the World Youth Day in Manila in 1995 but withdrew prior to celebrating Mass with then Pope John Paul II after complaints over the presence of Republic of China flags brought by the Taiwanese delegation.
The delegates were selected via registration through a website, by personal referral, and by nomination by local bishops and youth groups, Zhang said.
“We call ourselves a ‘communion group’ because we get along well together even though we have members from both the ‘unregistered’ and ‘open’ Catholic communities,” she said, referring to communities recognized by Rome and those sanctioned by the government.
Zhang said she attended her first World Youth Day in Sydney five years ago but was dismayed at not seeing any Chinese flags while on stage during the papal welcoming ceremony.
“I really hope more fellow youth can join this magnificent festival,” she said, adding that she had hoped to send a delegation to Madrid in 2011 but failed because of poor preparation and a lack of help.
“This year, I succeeded with assistance from several parties, including a missionary society and the Diocesan Youth Commission of Hong Kong.”
Father Joseph Wang of Nanchong in Sichuan province, who will also be attending the festivities, said he looks forward to “experiencing his faith in a universal context” and to learn from exchanges with participants from around the world.
Father Zhao, another participant from Shanxi province, said he has waited a long time for the opportunity to attend the event.
“I had heard of the WYD since I was a seminarian. I can finally join it now, many years after being ordained a priest.”
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