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Lost Catholic community found in China after 50 years

The Catholic agency reports today that a community of 5,000 lay Catholics has been located in a remote part of China who have "kept the faith" without a priest and without contact with the universal Church for 50 years.

It has taken a further two years for the news to seep back to the media that a Catholic priest has been in regular contact with them again since 2002.

Hu Junjie, a 64-year-old local lay leader, stated June 10 that despite the lack of a resident priest, about 5,000 Catholics, mainly Drung, Lisu, Nu and Tibetan ethnic minorities, in Gongshan Drungzu Nuzu Autonomous County in northwestern Yunnan province pray together daily. Gongshan, adjacent to Tibet Autonomous Region, is about 2,120 kilometers southwest of Beijing.

Hu, a Drung ethnic, also said that local Catholics have not only maintained their faith, they have also evangelized. During winter time when there was no farm work to do, he explained, Catholics would go in groups of two or three to visit and preach to non-Catholic villagers at their homes.

Given the many different ethnic minority groups in the county, Hu said it was hard to use the Bible to evangelize in that area because the Bible is available only in Chinese, Tibetan and Lisu. That is why Catholics here use hymns as a medium to spread the Good News instead, he pointed out. According to Hu, his own 100-year-old father has led other lay leaders in organizing catechism classes in Chinese, Lisu and Tibetan every winter.

Father Paul Chen Kaihua of Kunming diocese in the same province said that after learning about the community from one of his diocese' faithful, he has been visiting them twice a year since January 2002. Father Chen said he was impressed by their faith. Despite the absence of a priest, he said the number of churches has grown to 15 from the three established before the communists came to power in 1949. The number of Catholics also grew from 1,000 to 5,000, thanks to the laypeople's evangelization endeavor. French missioners served the area before 1949.

SOURCE – FULL STORY: – Remote Catholic Community Maintains Faith Without Priest For 50 Years

18 Jun 2004