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Wenchin Parish marks anniversary

Spanish Dominicans relinquish control of basilica after 150 years

Margarita Chen, Wenchin

Margarita Chen, Wenchin

Updated: December 12, 2011 09:55 AM GMT
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Wenchin Parish marks anniversary
A procession of the statue of Our Lady of Wenchin
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Catholics commemorated 150 years of evangelization in Wenchin Parish on the Immaculate Conception Minor Basilica’s feast day yesterday. The event was marked by the annual Marian procession. The event in Pingtung county, southern Taiwan also marked the end of 150 years of management of the basilica, one of the oldest churches in Taiwan, by Spanish Dominicans. In a special ceremony, Archbishop Peter Liu Cheng-chung of Kaohsiung and Father Javier Gonzalez Izquierdo -- the Hong Kong-based Dominican prior provincial -- witnessed Spanish Fr Ruben Martinez hand over the parish’s baptism records to Chinese confrere Fr Anselm Shu. About 11,000 Catholics from across Taiwan attended the morning Mass presided over by Cardinal Paul Shan Kuo-hsi. Archbishop Liu, Monsignor Joseph Chiang, former representative of the Holy See to North America for the Chinese Apostolate, and 54 priests concelebrated the rite. Noting the high turnout, Archbishop Liu said: “Every Catholic is an apostle with a mission to lead 23 million Taiwan people to God.” He encouraged Catholics to learn from the example set by the Spanish Dominicans, who came to Wenchin in 1861 and made friends first with people who did not know God. In the afternoon, the prelate and other clergy led 12 men carrying a 200-kilogram Marian statue and 11 procession teams from all seven Taiwan dioceses in a march around the Catholic village in rain. Despite being religious in nature, the annual procession has become a tourist draw in recent years. The Pingtung county government is also attaching importance to it by hosting a month-long “Wenchin Christmas Season” and has turned on Christmas lights that will decorate all the streets of the village throughout December. Related reports: Kaohsiung church hosts triple celebration Kaohsiung to mark special birthday Bishops Issue pastoral letter to mark 150th anniversary of evangelization

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