China’s first indigenous female religious order turns 150

China

The nuns of the Congregation of St. Joseph based in Beijing devote themselves to pastoral and missionary ministries

Chinese nuns pray in a chapel in Fushun. The Beijing-based Congregation of St. Joseph, the first indigenous Catholic female religious order in China, celebrates its 150th anniversary this year. (Photo: Nancy Wiechec/CNS)

Posted: May 03, 2022 07:55 GMT

Updated: May 03, 2022 at 08:01 GMT

Members of the first indigenous Catholic female religious congregation in China recalled the order’s history and vowed to deepen their commitment to the charism as they mark its 150th anniversary.

The Congregation of Saint Joseph, based in the Archdiocese of Beijing, has 49 nuns working in various dioceses, parishes, schools, clinics and a nursing institute, the Vatican news agency Fides reported on May 2.

A modest jubilee program consisting of four segments took place in Beijing. Events included a presentation on the history and life of the congregation, a guided tour, a seminar and prayers in the chapel.

The celebrations focused on how members can link their charisms to ongoing synodal talks in the Church.

The nuns of the order profess their vows to live a community life with intense pastoral and missionary commitments with their motto: “Although I am free and do not belong to anyone, I have made myself a slave of all, to gain no more possible. ” (1 Cor 9:19).

In 1872, the French missionary Archbishop Louis-Gabriel Delaplace of Beijing founded the Congregation of Saint Joseph with the help of the Canossian Sisters.

The order fell on hard times and closed for 30 years until 1986 due to the outbreak of Communist revolutionary Mao Zedong’s infamous Cultural Revolution across China.

The prelate aimed to enable Catholic women to participate effectively in pastoral and missionary activities through the nuns.

Initially, the order consisted mainly of nuns from Beijing and surrounding areas. But now the nuns come from various Chinese provinces.

In 1941, the congregation reformed its structure, its statutes and its religious habit. He added the profession of the vow of poverty as obligatory. Until then, the vows of obedience and chastity were obligatory for nuns. It has also widened the possibility for the nuns to devote more time to the areas of education, health care and all the needs of the diocese.

The order fell on hard times and closed for 30 years until 1986 due to the outbreak of Communist revolutionary Mao Zedong’s infamous Cultural Revolution across China. It resumed with six young nuns from Beijing and now has 49 nuns from all over China.

Sisters must have the religious, cultural, psychological and moral aptitudes necessary to maintain high standards of community life. During their training, nuns study a range of subjects, including sacred scriptures, catechism, church history, theology, canon law, liturgy, spirituality, philosophy, and sacred music.

Some nuns also study courses in physics, Chinese literature, Chinese moral tradition, social sciences and foreign languages.

Latest news