Monday, June 11, 2012

First priestly ordination for Hainan in 60 years

The Diocese of Hainan, which consists of a small island off the southern part of the continental mainland of China, held two memorable events in its history: For the first time in 60 years, a new priest was ordained for Hainan island, southern China, on May 17 and the newly finished Sacred Heart of Jesus Church was consecrated in the capital city, Haikou.

At a ceremony attended by around 600 people, Reverend Zhang Wenmin was ordained a priest by Bishop Joseph Gan Junqiu of Guangzhou, Guangdong province, who was joined by two other bishops from Guangdong province.

Father Zhang, who is from Tangshan in northern China, was sent to work in Hainan while a seminarian. He was asked to stay to monitor the construction of the new church, which began after the government granted just over two hectares of land for the project.

According to Father Yang Hailong, the diocesan administrator, the then-deacon was asked to remain because the diocese had been without a priest since the advent of communist rule. Hainan now has two priests and two religious sisters serving 5,000 people in eight churches on the island.

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