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Several fissures appear on the belfry of the cathedral of Nanchong diocese in Sichuan following the 2008 quake

Catholics rush to help after Sichuan quake

February 01 2010

SUINING, China (UCAN) -- Catholics in Suining, Sichuan province, have gone to aid their neighbors in Tongnan county rocked by a 5.2-magnitude earthquake on Jan. 31.

Father Wang Jianzhong, parish priest of Suining Church, told UCA News three members of his parish's evangelization group went to Tongnan this morning (Feb. 1.) to visit those affected and undertake a preliminary study on what needs to be done for them.

International media reports the quake killed one person and injured 15 others. More than 100 houses collapsed in the quake and about 4,700 were damaged.

Of the 5,000 Catholics in Suining city in eastern Sichuan province, about 500 live in Tongnan.

Suining comes under Nanchong diocese and has a population of 3.8 million people.

Though the quake hit at dawn, Sunday Mass was held as usual with parishioners praying for the safety of those affected by the quake, said Father Wang.

The priest said he got up when the quake struck at 5.30am and felt the whole Church building  swaying.

Catholics do not seem to be disturbed in their faith because of this quake, Father Wang said, although some people "still need to others to console them." He attributed this to the formation program that the local Church provided after an 8.0-magnitude quake in the province in 2008 killed more than 80,000 people. The program helped Catholics cope with the horror of the disaster and from having lost their loved ones.

The quake on Sunday widened existing cracks on the walls of Suining Church left by the 2008 quake.

The wooden rectory in the Church compound, where late Bishop Michael Huang Woze used to reside before he died in 2004, had been repaired since the 2008 quake and was not affected this time, Father Wang said.

Some laypeople have reported damage to their homes, but the Church is still waiting for a more detailed report, Father Wang added.

CH08682.1587 February 1, 2010 31 EM-lines (308 words)

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