Shijiazhuang (AsiaNews) - Hebei seminarians have welcomed the appointment of their new rector, a bishop, and the exclusion of politicians from the board of directors. In November-December last year, 100 seminarians went on strike and held demonstrations to demand the removal of Tang Zhaojun, a local politician, as vice-rector of the seminary (see: 02/12/2010 Hebei: seminarians against government official appointed as their seminary vice-rector).
The announcement of the launch of a new board of directors was made on January 13. The new rector is Msgr. Feng Xinmao, bishop of Hengshui. He is replacing the illegitimate bishop Ma Yinglin of Kunming, elected in early December at the head of the council of Chinese bishops, a body which the Holy See does not recognize because irreconcilable with the Catholic faith. Bishop Fang Jianping of Tangshan has been named as director and Father Sun Jigen of Handan as secretary general
The board of directors consists of bishops and delegates from every diocese in Hebei province. Bishop Fang Jianping replaces Mgr. Liu Jing Tangshan. Thanking him for his work in the past, Mgr. Fang said that the new leadership of the seminarywill carry on the mission of training Church successors.
A seminarian told AsiaNews that the board of directors said it wanted to know every class and listen to their opinions. "We hope - he added - that this will lead to a better development and better education."
According to the Catholic newspaper of Shijiazhuang, Faith Press, Mgr. Feng told the seminarians that he is eager to serve as a bridge between the seminary and the board of directors and will visit the institution on a regular basis to hear the voice of the students.Founded in 1984, Hebei seminary has to date educated 472 seminarians of whom 427 went on to become priests. At present there are 116 students in six classes and over 30 teachers between residents and temporary.