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Non-Catholics welcome to matchmaking day

Shenzhen Church throws open doors to spread the Word

Non-Catholics welcome to matchmaking day
Games help young people get to know each other at a Church-organized match-making activity in Shenzhen reporter, Shenzhen

January 13, 2011

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The Baoan Parish in Shenzhen city in southern China, has admitted non-Catholics to its social gathering for the first time. Nearly 70 young people from local Guangdong and outer provinces took part in the Church-run matchmaking program. The parish had opened the event to others as a way to spread the Gospel, said Joseph Peng, an organizer. The previous three gatherings, that are held twice a year, were limited to Catholic youth to prevent it becoming a secular match-making activity, Peng said. To ensure the event maintained its Catholic nature, non-Christian participants must be recommended by parishioners. Thirty-four men aged 22-32 and 35 women aged 21-30 got to know each other through games, self-introduction and sharing session in the Jan. 2 activity. Father Joseph Hu Qinghua, the parish priest, also explained the essence of Catholic marriage to them. Primary school teacher Vivian Peng said she was curious why her aunt always looked cheerful after going to church and joined the gathering because “having a religion makes one’s mind feel better and life more colorful.” She would be willing to join the Church if she could find a Catholic partner. “I wish to have my wedding in a church, which is holy, solemn and romantic,” she said. Many other participants felt lucky to know God and Catholic faithful. Li Bijun is one. His car broke down outside the Baoan Church on Nov. 18, the day of the church’s consecration. He went into the building out of curiosity. Since then he has been attracted by God and feels peaceful in the church, he recalled. Now, he goes to church every Sunday to attend Mass, do voluntary service and learn catechism. “Ever since I have a religious belief, my friends say I have changed a lot. Our parishioners are righteous and I am happy to get along with them.” In a big city like Shenzhen, where interpersonal relationship is cool and lack of trust, young people often feel insecure and confused when choosing a partner, said Joseph Peng. So in 2009, the Baoan Parish established the match-making service group as a platform to help the young people find partners or friends of the same faith. Most of them were born after 1980 and left their rural hometowns to find jobs in Shenzhen and neighboring areas. Related reports Changing work ethic hinders evangelization Migrant workers face unmarried futures Church struggles to serve growing population CH12836.1636
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