22,308 baptized at Easter in the 90 dioceses of mainland China,

ASIA/CHINA - fruit of the intense evangelization effort promoted by the Year of St. Paul
Beijing (Agenzia Fides) – According to statistics sent to Agenzia Fides from “Faith” - a Catholic newsletter on mainland China – there were 22,308 people baptized from the 90 dioceses on mainland China this Easter (2009). The great number has been in part thanks to the initiatives that have arisen in honor of the Year of St. Paul declared by the Holy Father Benedict XVI. Last year, at Easter time, Faith published statistics from 80 diocese, which had baptized a collective total of 13,608 people. This year, the statistics were taken from all of the 90 dioceses, in close collaboration with the local Church. The 22,308 new faithful are almost all fruits of the intensification of the mission of evangelization which has occurred in this Year of St. Paul.In the Dioceses of Beijing, Tian Jin, Shang Hai, and Chong Qing, four municipalities under government control, there were 2,465 baptisms. There were 400 in Beijing, with a large number of scholars and young people; 154 in Tian Jin, 311 in Shang Hai, nearly 1,400 in Chong Qing. In the Diocese of Beijing, there were over 2,000 baptisms in 2008.In the northeastern regions of mainland China, there were 1,300 baptisms; 1,580 in the northwest; 6,761 in the north; 1,776 in the central area; 3,488 in the east; 2,015 in the southwest; and 2,326 in the southeast.It is worth noting that the province of Si Chuan, heavily affected by the earthquake on May 12, 2008 in which over 80,000 died, is located in the southwestern area. There, over 2,000 baptisms were recorded. According to the local priest, “the earthquake destroyed our churches, but not our missionary spirit, nor our faith and hope. In fact, it has served to reinforce and reawaken the religious sensibilities of the people.” The Catholic Chinese stronghold of the province of He Bei has brought joy to the Church with over 3,700 baptisms. In the tiny Diocese of Fen Yang, in the predominantly Chinese Catholic province of Shan Xi, with a little over 20,000 faithful, celebrates the rite of the “missionary sending” of 100 catechists every week. (NZ) (Agenzia Fides 22/4/2009)

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