HONG KONG — A new seminary to train priests for all of Asia will open in the Chinese territory of Macau in September.

The Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples has entrusted management of the Redemptoris Mater College for Evangelization in Asia to the Neocatechumenal Way, ucanews.com reported.

The seminary was established by a decree signed June 29 by Cardinal Fernando Filoni, congregation prefect, after an audience with Pope Francis.

Filoni told Agenzia Fides, information service of the Pontifical Mission Societies, the college is “the fruit of apostolic creativity that looks to evangelization in that continent and expresses a will of decentralization of the congregation.”

The Neocatechumenal Way has long-standing experience of forming priests for the mission in Asia, he said.

The new college’s “specific nature is to take care of the formation for missionary priests who will have the evangelization in the territories of Asia at heart,” he continued.

The choice of Macau, a former Portuguese colony returned to China in December 1999, is linked to its history as a gateway for Jesuit missionaries such as Matteo Ricci, Francis Xavier and Alessandro Valignano who passed through it before going to China or Japan.

The seminary is being opened in response to St. John Paul II’s 1990 encyclical Redemptoris Mission (“Mission of the Redeemer”), which identifies the Asian continent as a territory where “the Church’s mission ad gentes (to the nations) ought to be chiefly directed.”

It is also a response to the call of Pope Francis, who in his apostolic exhortation Evangelii Gaudium (“The Joy of the Gospel”) invited the church to “go forth” to always proclaim the Gospel.

Filoni said Macau “has historically represented the door or a bridge for the mission of the Church in the East and as a promoting center for evangelization in the Far East.”

Bishop Stephen Lee Bun-sang of Macau accepted the congregation’s request to host the new college. However, appointments and authority over it will remain the direct prerogative of the congregation.

The Neocatechumenal Way was founded in Madrid, Spain, in 1964. It is estimated there are more than 100 Redemptoris Mater seminaries, 40,000 communities and 1 million members worldwide.

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