Mindong diocese covers the prefecture-level city of Ningde, which is located at the northeastern coast of Fujian province. There are 1district, 2 county-level cities and 6 counties under Ningde’s administration in a total land area of 13,452 square kilometer.
Ningde has a population of 3,400,000, which includes 198,900 people from 36 ethnic groups. The She ethnic group, which sparsely resides in the southeastern part of the country, has a population of 181,400 in Ningde, which is a quarter of the total She population in the country.
Government’s official statistics also shows that there are 460,000 Ningde natives migrated to or settled in Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan.
Besides Chinese Mandarin, Mindong (Fu’an) dialect is used as in the provincial capital of Fuzhou.. The She ethnic group uses their own dialect.
Catholicism was introduced to Mindong, literally eastern part of Fujian, during the Qing Dynasty. Luojiang township in Fu’an county is the birthplace of Bishop Gregorius Luo Wenzao, who was ordained as the first Chinese priest in 1654 and the first Chinese bishop in 1685.
Fled to the Philippines to avoid warfare in China, Bishop Luo studied philosophy and theology and was given a Spanish name of Gregorio Lopez. He returned to China after priestly ordination and shouldered most of the pastoral responsibility when foreign missioners were retained at Guangzhou during mid 1660’s. He visited 11 provinces and baptized 5,000 people in 3 years. Knowing about the then Father Luo’s enthusiasm in evangelization, bishops in Macau, Vietnam and the Philippines wrote to the Pope to recommend him as a bishop candidate.
Named apostolic vicar of Nanjing by Pope Clement X in 1674, Bishop Luo first humbly rejected the appointment. But his letter for the Pope did not reach the Vatican due to postal failure. Pope Innocent XI reinstated the appointment in 1679 but this time the Pope’s letter delayed. Bishop Luo was at last ordained in 1685 at Guangzhou by Bishop Bernardino della Chiesa, O.F.M.
When the apostolic vicariates of Nanjing and Beijing were established in 1690, Bishops Luo and della Chiesa was respectively named as the vicars.
Transport link with other cities now rely mainly on railways. Ningde is at the mid-point of the Wen-Fu Railway connecting Wenzhou and Fuzhou, respectively the provincial capitals of neighboring Zhejiang and Fujian.
The country’s twelfth 5-year plan (2011-2015) will strengthen port infrastructure aiming at doubling the current annual capacity to 50 million tons per year. Meanwhile, a military airport at the coastal Xiapu county is expected to be renovated for civil aviation by 2020.
Ningde has a subtropical monsoon climate characterized with a hot and rainy summer. Affected by 3 to 4 typhoons a year, it has an average of having torrential rain of 5.7 days per year.
The annual average temperature is 17.5 degrees Celsius with an annual precipitation of 1811mm.
Although the city sees growth in all industries, but the dependence has shifted to the secondary industry in the recent years.
Six major industries record a double-digit growth rate, namely machinery and electrical appliances, electricity generation, food processing, dockyard and repair, vehicle accessory and bio-chemical medicine.
Education in Ningde serves to meet the basic needs of the general public. Admission to primary schools stands at a rate of 99.9%.
The city government is dedicated to preserve the She cultural heritage. Besides publishing of three volumes of She folk tales, songs and proverbs, they also bring She folk dance with new choreography and win prizes at the national level.