Joseph Li Jiangang

A Church With Room For All

By Joseph Li Jiangang

My village of 800 residents is one hundred percent Catholic. It is in Shaanxi Province, 16 hours by train southwest of Beijing. My Christian name was chosen by our parish priest when he baptized me. As a young boy I always went to church with my grandmother even though I did not really like to. I preferred to be playing with my friends. On one occasion, during my primary school years, I went to see an open-air movie at Mass time.

The Franciscan Missionaries of Mary worked in our village and ran a medical clinic. In junior high school, one Sister got us together for religious education during our summer holidays, and at the age of eleven I began to know more about God. I was born after the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976) so much religious practice had ceased. I used to sit at the back of the church when I went alone, but when I joined the youth group we would sit at the front. As a youth I went of my own free will to church.