China: earthquake destroyed church but priest stays with parish

 "If you simply have Our Lord in your heart, you will never be afraid of anything! But I felt like my heart was bleeding when I first looked upon the wreckage of my parish that has centuries of history and where I have served so many years" - so said Father Jiang Tian Xiang, parish priest in Xiu Shui,whose church, was 40 km from the epicentre of the 12 May earthquake. Fr Jiang, who has been sleeping in his small car since the quake, said: " I just felt like crying. But I am trying to visit all my parishioners before the feast of the Assumption, to strengthen them in their faith." When the earthquake took place, he was in Beijing on a permanent formation course. As soon as he heard the news, he rushed back to the parish without even knowing whether or not the road would be intact. Three days later, he found himself standing in front of his church, now reduced to rubble. He met an elderly parishioner who had been keeping guard over the ruined church day and night. Fr Jiang asked him: "Weren't you afraid that there would be aftershocks and you would be here alone?". The man told him: "If you simply have Our Lord in your heart, you will never be afraid of anything." Impressed by the man's words, Fr Jiang took them as his motto in his own commitment. When the journalists. Catholic and non-Catholic alike and the volunteers from Jinde Charity saw the situation, they asked him if he would like to leave the area, but he always gave the same answer: "I am not going anywhere. I should guarantee daily Mass for my people who come from a long way' away. And it always rains? Well, my clothes dry off from my body heat. What do I eat? Whatever nature provides. I have never felt unwell, thanks be to God. I just have to cover the food when I cook, otherwise the cats, dogs, and even the pigs steal it from me. But they are also good company," Fr.Jiang said. "50 days after the earthquake, it was my 43rd birthday, and I thanked the Lord with a Mass, entrusting the reconstruction work to Him. That same day, I was visited by the Jinde Charity volunteers. They brought me food, tents, wood. After loading up everything, wiping the sweat off my face with a tissue, I was suddenly inspired to say: 'Thank you Lord! What a beautiful birthday gift you have given me! Who said that earthquakes only have negative consequences?' We should look at the people who never came together and are now coming together, the people who had forgotten the faith and are returning. We owe everything to the Lord." Today, thanks to the seminarians and volunteers of Jinde Charity, Fr Jiang has a small tent where he can take cover from the rain and continue his work. Source: Fides

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