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CHURCH, ONCE CATHEDRAL OF MARYKNOLL BISHOP WALSH, RE-OPENS IN JIANGMEN, CHINA

  • China
  • August 27 1986
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Immaculate Heart of Mary Church in Bei Tei (Pakkau), China, the Jiangmen diocese cathedral, was rededicated Aug. 22 with a Mass celebrated by China-appointed Bishop Peter Li of Jiangmen.

Jiangmen was once the vicariate of the late Maryknoll Bishops James E. Walsh and Adolph Paschang. Bishop Walsh was later imprisoned by the Communists and Bishop Paschang was expelled in 1951.

About 500 Jiangmen diocese Catholics from Taishan, Poshan, Zhaoqing, Kaiping at Tianton, Yangyang, Chikkai and Jiangmen City participated with Catholic visitors from neighboring Guangzhou (Canton), and Hong Kong and Macau dioceses.

Other visitors included five Maryknoll priests and six Maryknoll seminarians who participated in the rededication ceremony. The church was the cathedral of the formerly Maryknoll-administered diocese.

Bishop Li celebrated a simple "Missa cantata" for the feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. He wore no miter, ring or other bishop´s paraphernalia, and carried no crozier.

The Maryknollers and Hong Kong and Macau visitors were seated in pews on either side of the sanctuary. Officials of the provincial and local United Front and Religious Affairs Bureau were also present.

Mass was followed by Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament, and the final hymn was "Te Deum." The 10 a.m. ceremony lasted about an hour and 25 minutes.

Bei Tei, 10 km from Jiangmen City, was the center of Bishop Walsh´s diocese. It was established as a prefecture in 1924 and then-Monsignor Walsh became the first prefect. He was later named its first bishop.

When Bishop Walsh became Maryknoll superior general in 1936, Bishop Paschang became its second bishop.

Only some of several buildings in the compound have been returned for church use. Tenants of other church property pay a nominal rent to the church.

About 60 delegates of Catholic communities throughout the diocese, including Foshan, Zhaoqing, Faishan and Jiangmen, met on the two days before the event.

They established a Jiangmen chapter of the Church Administrative Commission. Father Paul Liao, Jiangmen church pastor, was elected chairman and Father Linus Wong was elected vice chairman. Previously Jiangmen had no chapter.

The Bei Tei church is the seventh opened in Jiangmen diocese. Others are in Jiangmen City and Taishan. Six more are being renovated for future opening.

Of the original Jiangmen diocesan priests, only three remain: Fathers Liao, Wang and Wa -- two in Jiangmen and one in Wanfuo.

The present expanded diocese has seven priests, including two in Zhaoqing, one in Panyu and Bishop Li in Shiqi (Zhongshan county).

After Mass, local Catholics asked about Bishop Paschang and Fathers Burke, Rechsteiner, Quinn, Bauer, Toyce, Winkels, Chatigny and others by name -- all names of Maryknoll priests they knew long ago.

Some remembered receiving confirmation from Bishop Walsh.

A banquet for guests filled 16 tables at Feng Tiang Hotel in Jiangmen.

At the rededication Mass, Father Liao spoke on the Blessed Mother.

"Today is the feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary," Father Liao said. "The name of the Jiangmen church is also Immaculate Heart of Mary.

"On the cross when Jesus said to the Apostle John, ´Behold, your mother,´ John represented all of us. So, Mary is really our mother.

"She is concerned about us. To show her concern, she has appeared throughout history, for instance at Lourdes and Fatima. This feast, The Immaculate Heart of Mary, also shows Mary´s love for mankind.

"The response of us Christians should be to love God and love our neighbor. We also ought always to pray to Mary to help us fulfill this Christian duty."

Father Liao is pastor of the newly dedicated Bei Tei church, and Father Wong is assistant parish priest, the same posts they serve in Jiangmen City.

The Jiangmen church has more than 100 families, while 30 families attend Mass in the Bei Tei church.

END

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