Diocese of Nanchong
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Nanchong diocese in Sichuan province, southwestern China, covers 34 cities and counties. Nanchong city is located 180 kilometers east of Chengdu, the capital of the southwestern province, and 1,380 kilometers southwest of Beijing.

Population

In Nanchong city, the population is 7,494,900 at end of 2008. (The population of the whole country is about 1,3 billion). Most residents in this area are ethnic Han people, contributing to 99.88% of its total population. The 2,300-year-old Langzhong city in central Sichuan province has a large Hui Muslim community. Langzhong (good inside) in Chinese means "good things being keep inside." In 1986, the State Council named it a historic and cultural city. It was regarded as one of the four most ancient cities in the country. They comprise a group of about 5 million people who still maintain their own languages and cultures. Langzhong has a large Hui Muslim community.

History

The Diocese of Nanchong or Shunking as it was formerly named is one of five dioceses in Sichuan Province. The others are Chengdu, Yibin (Suifu), Leshan (Kiating) and Xichang (Ningyuan).

On Aug. 2, 1929, the Vicariate Apostolic of Shunking was erected. Bishop Paul Wang Wen-cheng (Uamuencem) became the first ordinary of the ecclesiatical territory. He was born in September 1888 in Kian-yun and ordained a priest in August 1911. On Dec. 2, 1929, the priest was appointed Vicar Apostolic of Shunking. He was ordained bishop on Feb. 24, 1930 and appointed Bishop of Shunking on April 11, 1946, the day the Vicariate Apostolic of Shunking was elevated to Diocese of Shunking (Nanchong).

The Vatican Yearbook Annuario Pontificio of 1951 states that there were 19,442 baptized Catholics, representing 0.2 percent of all 8,000,000 people in the territory as of 1950. There were 17 parishes being served by 26 priests (23 diocesan, 3 Religious) and 12 female Religious.

The size of the diocese was greatly enlarged when the government revised the administrative divisions in Chongqing area in 1997, causing half of Wanxian diocese to be placed under Nanchong diocese.

The monastery in Xishan (west hill) was built by Benedictine monks from St. Andre's Abbey in Belgium in 1929. It is located in a suburb of Nanchong city.

The Belgian monks built the monastery four years after Benedictines opened Fu Jen Catholic University in Beijing. It was founded as a dependent priory, but with its own novitiate. But during the 1950s, all foreign monks in Xishan were expelled from China and the monastery was put to secular use. In 1985 it was returned to Nanchong diocese, which rented it out to a martial arts school in the 1990s.

The monastery is now a pilgrimage site. Two old buildings sit on the nearly 10,000-square-meter grounds, also home to a "Twelve Apostles" square, Stations of the Cross and a "Good Shepherd" pavilion, which were built since 2000. Some of the property is farmland.

Although Benedictine monks no longer live at the monastery, it still bears the name of their Religious order.

Transportation

Nanchong is a transport hub of the northeast Sichuan Province. Transportation in Nanchong is quite convenient compared with other cities in Sichuan province because of its extensive express railway network, shipping, and air service.

Climate

The average temperature in Nanchong is about 17.5 degrees Celsius. The city is situated 310 meters above seal level.

Economy

Agriculture is the pillar of Nanchong's economy, with 80 percent of Nanchong's population sited in rural area and committed to traditional agriculture activities. Nanchong's manufacturing industry also relies on raw materal which is provided by agriculture. Nanchong's main manufacturing outputs are petroleum products, automobiles and parts, mechanical equipment, textiles, silk and building materials.

Topography

Nanchong is situated in the north-east of Sichuan Province. To the east of Nanchong is Dazhou, to the west are Mianyang and Suining and to the north is Guangyuan. The area is quite hilly. The Jialing river, a Yangtze tributary, crosses Nanchong from north to south.

Calligrapher He Wenjun uses a large Chinese paint brush to write a Chinese character bo, meaning unlimited love, at Xishan Monastery of Nanchong Diocese, to commemoratethe first anniversary of the deadly Sichuan earthquake that struck in May 2008

Catholics at Nanchong cathedral donate money in May 2008 for the Sichuan earthquake victims. PHOTO ON TOP: Several fissures appear on the belfry of the cathedral following the May 12 earthquake in China