Diocese of Xiangfan
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Xiangfan is the second largest city in Hubei province in central China. After the reshuffling of Hubei dioceses in 1999, XIangfan includes the former Laohekou and Suizhou dioceses. Xiangfan diocese covers three districts of Xiangcheng, Fancheng and Xiangzhou; the three cities of Zaoyang, Laohekou and Yicheng, as well as the three counties of Nanzhang, Baokang and Gucheng. As of 2010, there are 5.88 million people living in the territory of 19,713 square kilometer. In 2010, the State Council approved the change of the name of the city into Xiangyang.

Population

Xiangfan has a population of 5.88 million with a majority of 99.7 percent of Han. There are 20,000 people from 26 ethnic minority groups. The Hui (Muslim) is the largest group which accounts for the 80 percent of the ethnic groups.

Language

Putonghua and local Xiangfan dialect are in use.

History

Xiangfan is one of the five dioceses in the province of Hubei. It is located at the northwestern part of the province, covering the administrative regions of Xiangfan, Shiyan, Suizhou and Shennongjia, accounting for one-fourth of the area and one-six of the population of the province. The bishop house is located at a century-old church at Dinzhong Street in the Xiangfan city.

The diocese is combined from the former Xiangyang, Suizhou and Laohekou dioceses. Before Laohekou was renamed in 1924, it was called the Northwestern Xue apostolic vicariate, one of the three vicariates established in 1870. Later in 1936, Xiangyang apostolic prefecture was split from Laohekou. Xiangyang was elevated to a diocese in 1951. Suizhou was split from Eastern Xue apostolic vicariate to be established as an apostolic prefecture in 1938.

Xiangfan diocese is now under the leadership of the diocesan administrator Father Chen Jianqing and the chancellor Father Joseph Liu Yanqiang. The 15 priests and 2 seminarians of the diocese serve about 20,000 registered Catholics in 12 churches.

The Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary have built a new convent in Fenghanying. Sister Wang Yanfang, the superior of the convent, and some 30 nuns run a sewing factory to self-sustain their daily expenses and support the evangelization of the diocese.

Transportation

The "one river of Hanjiang, two airports, three railways and four expressways" makes Xiangfan an important transportation hub of the neighboring Chongqing municipality and the three provinces of Sichuan, Shaanxi and Henan. In 2010, the airport became one of the few which launches direct flights to Taiwan.

Climate

Xiangfan is located at a transitional subtropical region with a continental monsoon climate and distinctive seasons. It has a frost-free period of 241 days and an annual precipitation of 878.3mm, bringing a good environment for agricultural production. The average temperature ranges from 15.1°C to 16.9°C.

Education

The Xiangfan College is a higher education institute offering different undergraduate programs. It is named to be one of the local higher education institutes for major developments in the country in 2001.

A gate tower on the walls of the ancient Xiangyang city

A shopping street inside the ancient walls is another scenic area in Xiangyang city