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Diocese of Jilin

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Diocese of Jilin
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In a land area of 187,400 square kilometers, the diocesan territory, according to the open Church authorities, covers almost the whole Province of Jilin in northeastern China. According to the Vatican, the Diocese of Kirin (Jilin) Szepingkai and Yanji in Jilin province are suffragan of the Archdiocese of Mukden or Fengtien (Shenyang).


In Jilin Province, the population is 27.09 million at end of 2008. (The population of the whole country is 1,33 billion.) Major cities in this province include Changchun, Jilin City, Baishan, Baicheng, Siping, Yanji, Songyuan,Tonghua and Liaoyuan. Jilin is inhabited by Han Chinese (90 percent), Manchus, Hui, Mongols and Xibe. Most ethnic Koreans live in the Yanbian Korean Autonomous Prefecture. This region has about 12,000 Catholics at present.


In 1840, MEP Father Pierre Duhart started his mission at Xiaobajia, a village of Nong'an county in Jilin Province. He was the first foreign missionary who began to spread the Gospel in the area. Four years later, the Latin seminary was built at Xiaobajia to train Chinese clergy.

What is now Jilin Diocese was erected as Vicariate Apostolic of Northern Manchuria on May 10, 1898. Father Pierre-Marie-Franéois Lalouyer, M.E.P., was the Vicar Apostolic from May 16, 1898 to Feb. 17, 1923, when he died. He was succeeded by Auguste-Ernest-Dçsirç-Marie Gaspais, M.E.P., the same day. Since Dec. 20, 1920, Father Gaspais had been the Coadjutor Vicar Apostolic.

On Dec. 3, 1924, the Vicariate changed its name into Vicariate Apostolic of Kirin (Jilin). Yanji apostolic prefecture was split from Kirin in 1928 and Szepingkai apostolic prefecture was split partly from the Vicariate Apostolic of Shenyang and partly from the Vicariate Apostolic of Jehor in 1929.

Father Charles-Joseph Lemaire, M.E.P. , became Coadjutor Vicar Apostolic of Kirin on July 11, 1939. He resigned on Nov. 16, 1945 to take up the post of superior general of the M.E.P.. The Vicariate was elevated to Diocese of Kirin (Jilin) on April 11, 1946. The Apostolic Vicar Auguste-Ernest-Dçsirç-Marie Gaspais became bishop of the newly created diocese the same day. He died on Oct. 21, 1952.

In 1949, the Diocese of Kirin (Jilin) had 35,000 baptized Catholics. They were served by 33 diocesan priests and 223 Religious women according to the Vatican Yearbook Annuario Pontificio 2006.

The former diocesan office was located in Jilin and the Sacred Heart Churchwas the cathedral then. Father Victor Yan Taijuan moved the bishop office to Changchun and the St. Teresa's Church (PHOTO ON TOP, from Wikipedia), which built as a parish church by French missionaries in 1930, became the cathedral. The patron saint is the Mary of Lourdes. On Dec. 4, 2008, the cathedral was reopened after extensive renovation.

The Missionary Benedictines of St. Ottilien, Germany, were able to provide competent advisors from the Bayerische Landesamt fuer Denkmalpflege, the Bavarian Office of Cultural Patrimony. An expert on neogothic architecture advised local decision makers in view of understanding and respecting the principles of gothic architecture. The renovated cathedral is a small gem and a visible testimony to the faith and resilience of the Catholics in this province which comprises Yanji diocese, former mission territory of the Missionary Benedictines.


There are over 35,000 kilometers of highways, including over 500 kilometers of expressways. The province has an excellent rail network with Changchun as its main hub. There are 4 major airports in the area: Changchun International Airport, Jilin Airport, Yanji Airport and Tonghua Liuhe Airport.


Jilin has a northerly continental monsoon climate, with long, cold winters and short, warm summers. Average January temperatures range from -20 to -14 degrees Celsius. Rainfall averages at 350 to 1000 mm.


Industry in Jilin is concentrated on automobiles, train carriages, and iron alloy. The automotive and petrochemical industries play an important role nationwide. Jilin's agricultural production is centered upon rice, maize, and sorghum. The center of Jilin Province, located in the golden Corn Belt well known in the world, is gifted with flat land and fertile soil. The grain production capability has reached a historical level of 25 million tons. Relying on the abundant agricultural resources, the development of agro-industry is supported and the farm produce processing grows very fast.


Jilin is a province in the North East of China, part of what was once known as Manchuria. Jilin borders Heilongjiang Province the north east. To the east of there is a short border with the Far East of Russia. The south east border of Jilin abuts North Korea. To the south west lies the Chinese province of Liaoning and to the north east is Inner Mongolia. Jilin is drained by the Yalu and Tumen Rivers in the extreme southwest (which together form the border between the People's Republic of China and North Korea), by tributaries of the Liao River along the southern border, and by the Songhua and Nen rivers, both eventually flowing into the Amur.

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