ucanews.com reporter, TianjinUpdated: January 21, 2012 08:45 AM GMT
Tianjin diocese has begun a year-long series of special celebrations marking 100 years of a permanent Catholic presence in the northern Chinese city. The opening Mass took place at the Charity Mansion, one of the oldest Catholic buildings in Tianjin which was rebuilt 200 meters from its original location a year ago. Father Leo Zhang Liang of Tianjin presided over the Mass, which was concelebrated by 17 other priests and attended by about 100 Catholics. They commemorated the founding of the Apostolic Vicariate of Coastal Chi-Li in 1912, which was renamed Tianjin in 1924. It was later elevated to a diocese in 1946 when the Holy See established the Church hierarchy in China. The event is divided into four seasons that will concentrate on prayer, sharing, life and communion respectively. As well as diocesan-level celebrations, every parish is encouraged to hold special prayer meeting, activities and formation classes connected to these themes. A diocesan priest, one of the organizers, said he feels gratified to be taking part in the celebrations. At this historic moment, “we should reflect on how to carry on our past heritage and open up the future.” He explained the significance of starting the celebrations in the small church. In 1866, when Catholicism was first introduced to Tianjin, nuns from the French Sisters of Charity of St Vincent de Paul order opened the Charity Mansion to serve the sick and orphans. He also said the 10 nuns were killed in the building by an anti-Catholic crowd during the Tianjin Massacre in 1870. The diocese, which covers Tianjin municipality, has two bishops, around 40 priests and more than 100,000 Catholics.