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Yan’an coadjutor succeeds sick bishop

New ordinary bishop promises to bring new activities to diocese

Yan’an coadjutor succeeds sick bishop
A lay representative vows to obey Bishop John Baptist Yang Xiaoting of Yan reporter, Yulin

March 29, 2011

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Coadjutor Bishop John Baptist Yang Xiaoting of Yan’an (Yulin) has become the fifth ordinary bishop of the vast diocese in northern Shaanxi province. The installation Mass took place at Zhangjiapan Our Lady of China Cathedral on March 25, the Annunciation of the Lord. Bishops from neighboring dioceses, including Bishops Paul Meng Qinglu of Hohhot, Nicholas Han Jide of Pingliang, Matthias Du Jiang of Bameng (Shaanba) and Joseph Li Jing of Ningxia concelebrated the Mass with 30 priests. Liu Yuanlong, secretary-general of the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association, and other government officials were among almost 1,000 Mass attendees who witnessed the event. Retired Bishop Francis Tong Hui of Yan’an, 77, who suffers from Alzheimer’s disease, also made a brief appearance. Bishop Yang, who turns 47 next month, thanked him for his leadership and episcopal ministry over the past 16 years. According to Bishop Yang, activities in the diocese have been at a standstill for many years. He says he plans to convene the board of diocesan consultors, establish various diocesan commissions, and open a diocese center and a social service organization in the near future. “Above all, my deepest concern is the formation of clergy and faithful,” he said. Yan’an, which was once an important Communist revolutionary base, has 20 priests, 12 seminarians and 26 nuns serving 60,000 Catholics scattered across 80,000 square kilometers. Bishop Yang was ordained a bishop with both papal approval and government recognition in July 2010. During the National Congress of Catholic Representatives last December, he was elected a vice president of the Bishops’ Conference of the Catholic Church in China and director of the bishops’ theological study committee. He was the first mainland clergyman to receive a doctorate among priests ordained since the Church began to revive in the late 1970s. He obtained a doctorate in sacred theology in Rome in 1999 and later earned a master’s degree in socio-religious studies in Washington DC. Since 2002, he has taught and served as deputy rector at the Shaanxi Catholic seminary. He has also headed a formation center and a research center. CH13785.1647
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