--A brief Review of Chong Qing Diocese
Reporter Words: In the Afternoon on Oct 30th 2004, Bei Fang Jin De (BFJD) ChongQing Disaster Relief Group visited the historical churches of ChongQing city. Fr. WenMing Liu, Fr. XiaoPing Zhao, Fr. Bangyong Xie, and some of the locals gave a brief introduction of the Church of Chongqing.
Brief information of ChongQing Diocese
The Catholic Church in ChongQing was founded by priests from Paris, and it has a history of over 300 years. Currently, there are about 200,000 Catholics, 12 priests, 7 Sisters, 5 seminarians, and 65 churches. They have two Nursing Homes, one rehabilitation center, one clinic, one hostel, and eleven cemetaries. One can also point out that they have a quarterly diocesan reader called Light and Salt.
Chong Qing Diocese has three offices connected to the diocese: the Self-management and Social Service Office (Fr. WenMing Liu), Educational Administration Office(Fr. XiaoPing Zhao), and General Office.
St. Joseph Church—A Peaceful Place in a Crowed City Center
The construction of the Church of St. Joseph began in 1879 and was finished in 1893. The church is located at the center of the City. It is an important historical site in ChongQing city and it is the Bishop's residence of the Diocese of Chong Qing as well. The main administration offices were located at the church. They had 17 parish priests working in the church, and each priest had to oversee several parishes. The pastor was Fr. WenMing Liu and there were about 5,000 Catholics in the Diocese of ChongQing.
In 1917, they completed a bell tower that was crowned with a cross and included a finely made bell. In 1927, the local Catholics raised some money and bought two golden bells and added them to the church. When the holidays approached the three bells woulld ring at the same time and people from several miles away could hear them ring.
The bell tower is over 30 meters high. Originally, there were 5 stories to the bell tower. However, the top one was torn down in the 60s because it was in poor condition. In May of 1950, the church, the school, the kindergarten, and the nursing home were all bombed by Japanese army planes. Fortunately, the bell tower avoided this disaster. In 1946, the church was repaired with the help of over 20,000,000 RMB in contributions. In 1979, St. Joseph Church was opened to the public once again.
Ren Ai Church in Yu Zhong(a district in ChongQing city)— which also has the best nursing home in YuZhong, was built in 1900 and has become an important historical site in ChongQing city. Along with the church building a hospital and rectory were also built in 1900. In order to manage the hospital, they built a convent in 1902. In 1941, Ren Ai church was opened to the public so that the local people could live out their faith life in communion with the sisters and priests that lived next to the church. In April of 1951, the South-western Chinese Army Force started to run the Ren Ai hospital and Ren Ai Professional Nursing School. In that time they took charge of the church and of all of the related property. In February of 2001, the church, rectory building, and seminary were returned to the Church. The total area of land was about 3000 square meters. On June 11th 2002, Ren Ai church was opened onceagain to the public after some simple repairs.
In December of 2001 the Ren Ai Nursing Home opened at the Sister's convent in order to serve the local seniors. There are 51 seniors currently living in the nursing home. There are 5 people in the nursing staff under the direction of Sr. Yun Xiao. A group from BFJD came to visit the Ren Ai Nursing Home on October 30th, 2004. The first thing that the group saw was 10 young people giving the seniors massage therapy. Sr. Xiao said that the youths were University students from the ChongQing Medical University. They come to Ren Ai Nursing Home once a month and check the health condition of the seniors. They also occationaly give the seniors massage therapy.
Ren Ai Nursing Home is one service site in the MaTi Jie Neighborhood Community. The local neighborhood community arranged for visitors to serve the seniors several times each year. They have parties together with the seniors with the hope of sharing their youthful joy with them.
The Catholic Community in ChongQing City also managed a visit to Ren Ai Nursing Home this year. They performed some programs and brought gifts for the seniors.
Ren Ai Nursing Home is a three-story building with over 40 rooms. It can serve more than 150 seniors. They just finished the decoration of the third floor, which includes a new wood floor and a fresh coat of paint on the wall. The corridor is about 4-5 meter wide so that the disabled seniors could take a walk in the corridor if they cannot go downstairs. Each room is well furnished for every individual. They include: a new single wood frame bed, clothing, a cabinet, a sofa, a table and other furniture. According Mr. DeShen Liu’s introducation, the repair and decoration work for the nursing home was divided into three phases because the local Catholic Church did not have enough money to do it all at once. The environment of that neighborhood is quite nice, but the sisters charge the lowest price possible because their main mission is to serve the local community through the nursing home
A local official from YuZhong said that“Ren Ai Nursing Home is the best one in YuZhong” after his visit.
St. Teresa Church in Jiang Bei( a place in ChongQing City)—A Pearl in the Business Center in Chong Qing City
St. Teresa church was built in 1927 and it is an important historical site in Jiang Bei. There are 14 paintings from Bible stories painted in the walls of the church; two walls have seven each. The music building, bell tower, and the bell were very wellkept. When the holidays come, the people living far away from the church could hear the bell. Currently there are over 10,000 Catholics in this parish. They have one Nursing Home where seniors as well as the general population is served. A clinic has one doctor and three nurses working there. The clinic mainly serves the seniors in the nursing home however, it is also opened to the public.
Based on the plans of the city's future, Jiang Bei will be the center of administration, business, culture, finance, and transportation in the city of ChongQing. According to the city plans, St. Teresa's church will be kept in the same place and it will have about 6 Mu land, including the church, rectory, office space, Catholics Education Center, nursing homes, clinic, cemetary, and etc. They will repair and maintain the church so that it retains the design of the old church. In the future, St. Teresa Church will be a bright site in the city.
Ci Mu Church in Nan An (a district of Chong Qing)—Is a Peaceful Retreate from the Bussiness of Citylife.
Ci Mu Church is 20 minutes from the city by car. Ci Mu church was built in 1911 and is located in the Ji Guan town in Nan An. It is surrounded by mountains and farms. The scene of the mountain is very beautiful and peaceful. It was said that St. Mary once appeared here. Its name “Ci Mu”is a way to say mother in Chinese. Ci Mu church is a popular place.
Ci Mu church is in the Romanesque style and it takes up about 3420 square meters. They have more than 80 rooms in the complex which includes the church. The highschool, minor, and major seminaries are all located in the same complex. More than 350 students graduated from here, over 80 of them were ordained priests. Bishop MingLiang Shi, Bishop ZongYu Liu, Bishop Beizhan Luo, Bishop YinMing Duan, and Bishop Xi Lan Yang all studied here. Ci Mu church is in the center of the complex. On the side of the church holds the pavilion of St. Mary. In the small pavilion, you can find the handwriting of Fr. GongBao Luo. In the back yard of the church, there are six huge jujube trees from Iraq. These jujube trees are the most valuable and rarest plants in Chong Qing City.
Due to the good geographic location and special architectural style, there many visitors come every year. In the summer of 1939, Mr. JieShi(Zhong Zheng) Jiang and his wife visited here. They praised this place, and said that it was a peaceful and positive place. Unfortunately, some parts were destroyed during the Culture Revolution. After 1987, the government corrected the religious policy and the number of the Catholics in this area is growing rapidly. Ci Mu Church became the only church in Nan An.
In July 2004, the Chong QIng Diocese set up a Catholic Education Center here. They have held 3 terms so far and the training program is popular with the local Catholics.
In addition, Chong Qing Diocese has the Diocese mausoleum within the church. It is named Ci Mu mausoleum. The priests will say a Mass in the mausoleum.(Translated by Ma Li)