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Celebrating the 500th Anniversary of Catholicism in the Philippines

“…500 years have passed since the Christian message first arrived in the Philippines. You received the joy of the Gospel... And this joy is evident in your people … We see it in your eyes, on your faces, in your songs and in your prayers. In the joy with which you bring your faith to other lands …”

~ Pope Francis said in his homily of the Mass at the Vatican on March 14, formally opening the yearlong celebrations marking the 500th anniversary of Catholicism’s arrival in the Philippines.

A country of 7,641 islands at the sea of southeast Asia with a population of 109 million, of which more than 10 million are migrants living in almost 100 countries across the world.

Why the Pope calls Filipinos “smugglers of faith”? What makes the local Church so unique?

What is the Catholic population in the country? How many dioceses, bishops are there?

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Diocese of Zhumadian

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Diocese of Zhumadian
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Zhumadian, in southern Henan Province, has been a communication hub since ancient times. As a post, messengers and officials passing by took some rest here, hence it got the name "Zhumadian" (a place where people rest themselves and their horses). In an area of 15,000 square kilometer, the prefecture-level city covers one district and nine counties under its administration. Urbanization in Zhumadian is around 35 percent. They are the counties of Queshan, Suiping, Xiping, Shangcai, Runan, Pingyu, Xincai , Zhengyang and Biyang and the district of Yicheng. 

Population

Zhumadian has 8.53 million populations in an area of 15,000 square kilometer.

Language

Mandarin and Zhengzhou dialect are in use in the diocesan territory.

History

The Apostolic Prefecture of Chumatien (Zhumadian) was erected in March 2, 1933. It was elevated into an Apostolic Vicariate in Nov. 9, 1944 and was elevated into a diocese four years later. 

In 1948, before the People's Republic of China was established, foreign missionaries understood that Luohe was going to be lost from their control, Bishop of Zhengzhou and Bishop Joseph Marie Yuan of Zhumadian reached an agreement that Luohe to be placed under Zhumadian diocese, which was the only diocese in Henan that was managed by Chinese clergy. During the Cultural Revolution, all the churches were closed and mostly destroyed. 

Since the open reform in late 1970s, the Church develops quickly. It has 19 priests, 15 major seminarians and 10 minor seminarians, 35 religious sisters serving 60,000 Catholics. Under the current leadership of Father Liu, there are now 27 Churches and mission stations. The diocese has also established a religious sister's congregation, a minor seminary and two eye clinics. 

The Our Lady, Queen of Peace Church was used as a barn during the Cultural Revolution and was thus, saved from destruction. It became the central point of the diocese after Church activities revived.

Transportation

The National Highway 107 and the Beijing-Guangdong railway pass through Zhumadian. About 100 kilometers to the north of it is the new Zhengzhou International Airport.

Climate

Situated in the mid-altitude zone and categorized as the transitional climate between northern subtropical zone and warm temperate zone, Zhumadian features clearly demarcated seasons, sufficient rainfall and plentiful sunlight. The average temperature is 14.6 to 15 degrees Celsius year-round.

Topography

Zhumadian is a prefecture-level city. It borders Xinyang to the south, Nanyang to the west, Pingdingshan to the northwest, Luohe to the north, Zhoukou to the northeast, and the province of Anhui to the east.

Education

Because of sufficient rainfall and plentiful sunlight, Zhumadian is extremely agreeable for the growth of crops and have made the place an important grain and oil production base of national level, regarded as "the grain store of the country", "the oil tank of Central China" and "the kingdom of sesame."

Culture

Zhumadian has a very old history. Some relics of the Old Stone Age were found in the area, showing that there was human activity in 18,000 years ago. It was one of the main war sites as well as the weapon manufacturing center in the Warring Period (around 475 BC-221 BC). Zhumadian was said to be the birthplaces of many famous people. It was believed to be hometown of Liang Shanbo and Zhu Yingtai, the characters in the legendary story "the Butterfly Lovers". The State Council has listed it as an intangible cultural heritage.

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