Diocese of Chengdu
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Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan province, southwestern China, is about 1,500 kilometers southwest from Beijing. The diocese, based in Chengdu, covers 4 cities (Chengdu, Deyang, Guangyuan and Mianyang) and 37 districts and counties, in an area of 54,900 square kilometers.

Population

Once a city of 5 million people, Chengdu's population has expanded to 11.25 million in 2008. This population boom is expected to continue to 15 million in the next 5 years as residents of Sichuan move to Chengdu in search of jobs and a better quality of life. (The population of the whole country is about 1.3 billion).

Most residents in this area are ethnic Han people, contributing to 99.5% of its total population. There are another 55 ethnic groups in the territory like Hui, Yi, Tibetans, Tujia, Miao, Qiang and others. They comprise a group of about 5 million people who still maintain their own languages and cultures.

Language

The native language in Chengdu is Sichuanese, otherwise referred as Sichuan dialect. More precisely, "Chengdu Dialect" is widely used in lieu of "Sichuanese" due to the largely different accents of Sichuanese speakers residing elsewhere.

History

Catholicism was introduced to Chengdu as early as in 1640. Chengdu Diocese traces back to the Vicariate Apostolic of Se-Ciuen that had been erected in 1680. On April 2, 1856 it became the Vicariate Apostolic of Northwestern Szechwan. The name was changed again on Dec. 3, 1924, into Vicariate Apostolic of Chengtu (Chengdu). On April 11, 1946, the Vicariate was elevated to Diocese of Chengtu (Chengdu).

According to the Pontifical Yearbook, in 1950, the diocese had 40,240 baptized Catholics, representing 0.2 percent of all 20,000,000 people in the territory. There were 95 priests (73 diocesan and 22 Religious) serving then the Catholics in 52 parishes. There were 22 male Religious and 88 female Religious.

In 1904, the French Catholic missionary society Paris Foreign Missions (M.E.P.) constructed a cathedral in the city of Chengdu in a traditional Sichuan style. Today's cathedral was rebuilt and opened in 1984.

Also opened in the cathedral compound the same year was the Sichuan Catholic Seminary, which has an eventful history.

Before the founding of People's Republic of China in 1949 the, Annunciation Seminary in Shuyuan village of Bailu township, Pengzhou county, built by Paris Foreign Missions priests in 1908, was the cradle of priestly vocations in southwestern China. The seminary, also called Bailu Shangshuyuan (white deer higher college), was listed as a national heritage in 2006. The century-old seminary was completely collapsed in the 2008 earthquake just a week before its centenary celebration. The government is reconstructing the heritage in the shape as it was.

That seminary was forced to close down during political turmoil in 1950s. After the Cultural Revolution (1966-76), Church activities gradually revived and a regional seminary was reopened in the cathedral compound in 1984.

Five years later in 1989, the seminary dismissed all seminarians due to what was termed a "lack of discipline." Classes resumed in 1991, but the seminary was closed again in April 1994, when a majority of the seminarians protested against government interference. The government had appointed a provincial religious affairs official as deputy rector, replacing Bishop Joseph Xu Zhixuan of Wanxian (Wanzhou). In 1996, the seminary was moved to a small campus in Pi county that had only one classroom and a small dormitory. It moved in 2005 to the present 2.4-hectare campus in the same county. In June 2009, the seminary celebrated its 25th anniversary. At that time, there were seven priest-teachers and about 20 part-time teachers instructing 25 philosophy students and 28 theology students. Catholicism was introduced to Chengdu as early as in 1640. Chengdu Diocese traces back to the Vicariate Apostolic of Se-Ciuen that had been erected in 1680. On April 2, 1856 it became the Vicariate Apostolic of Northwestern Szechwan. The name was changed again on Dec. 3, 1924, into Vicariate Apostolic of Chengtu (Chengdu). On April 11, 1946, the Vicariate was elevated to Diocese of Chengtu (Chengdu).

According to the Pontifical Yearbook, in 1950, the diocese had 40,240 baptized Catholics, representing 0.2 percent of all 20,000,000 people in the territory. There were 95 priests (73 diocesan and 22 Religious) serving then the Catholics in 52 parishes. There were 22 male Religious and 88 female Religious.

In 1904, the French Catholic missionary society Paris Foreign Missions (M.E.P.) constructed a cathedral in the city of Chengdu in a traditional Sichuan style. Today's cathedral was rebuilt and opened in 1984.

Also opened in the cathedral compound the same year was the Sichuan Catholic Seminary, which has an eventful history.

Before the founding of People's Republic of China in 1949 the, Annunciation Seminary in Shuyuan village of Bailu township, Pengzhou county, built by Paris Foreign Missions priests in 1908, was the cradle of priestly vocations in southwestern China. The seminary, also called Bailu Shangshuyuan (white deer higher college), was listed as a national heritage in 2006. The century-old seminary was completely collapsed in the 2008 earthquake just a week before its centenary celebration. The government is reconstructing the heritage in the shape as it was.

That seminary was forced to close down during political turmoil in 1950s. After the Cultural Revolution (1966-76), Church activities gradually revived and a regional seminary was reopened in the cathedral compound in 1984.

Five years later in 1989, the seminary dismissed all seminarians due to what was termed a "lack of discipline." Classes resumed in 1991, but the seminary was closed again in April 1994, when a majority of the seminarians protested against government interference. The government had appointed a provincial religious affairs official as deputy rector, replacing Bishop Joseph Xu Zhixuan of Wanxian (Wanzhou). In 1996, the seminary was moved to a small campus in Pi county that had only one classroom and a small dormitory. It moved in 2005 to the present 2.4-hectare campus in the same county. In June 2009, the seminary celebrated its 25th anniversary. At that time, there were seven priest-teachers and about 20 part-time teachers instructing 25 philosophy students and 28 theology students. 

Transportation

Chengdu's transportation network is well developed, and Chengdu serves as the starting point for many national highways, with major routes going from Sichuan-Shanxi, Sichuan-Tibet, and Sichuan-Yunnan. Chengdu is served by the Chengdu Shuangliu International Airport located 16 km southwest of downtown. It has been the busiest airport in Central and Western China and the 6th busiest airport nationwide, with a total of 17.25 million in terms of passenger traffic in 2008.

Climate

Chengdu enjoys a mild and humid subtropical climate. It is warm and wet all year. The annual temperature averages 16ºC. Chengdu has an early spring, hot summer, cool autumn and warm winter.

Economy

The main industries in Chengdu - which include food, medicine, machinery and the information technology - are supported by numerous large-scale enterprises. Chengdu is one of the most important economic centers, transportation and communication hubs in Southwestern China. With nearly a 150 million people in the vicinity of Chengdu, foreign firms view Chengdu as a low cost center for staffing research and development (R&D), manufacturing, and other commercial enterprises. Additionally, it provides a vast market for fast moving consumer goods.

Topography

Chengdu is situated at the western edge of the Sichuan Basin. It is therefore sheltered from northwest winds from Siberia in winter by the Qinling Mountains to the north.

Culture

Chengdu has been a famous cultural centre with age-old colorful traditions of both religious and civil significance for the past 2,500 years in Chinese history. It has been ranked as one of the first excellent tourist city in China. Dujiangyan, 70 kilometers north west of Chengdu has an irrigation system built in 256 B.C. to protect people living along the banks of Min River from yearly flooding. The city was listed as a world heritage site in 2000. Including the 17 counties and two towns under its administration, the city has an area of 1,208 square kilometers and a population of about 630,000.

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