Rome (Agenzia Fides) – On this past February 2, Feast of the Presentation of the Lord, Archbishop Raymond Wang Chonglin, retired bishop of the Diocese of Chaohsien (Zhaoxian), Hebei Province (Mainland China) died following a brain hemorrhage. The prelate was 88 years old. He was born May 13, 1921 in the village of Yuejiazhuang, County Ningjin (Hebei). He entered the minor seminary in 1935, passing in 1944 to the seminary of Jiazhuang (Zhaoxian) for the study of philosophy and then to the Vincentian seminary in Beijing, for theology. He was ordained a priest on November 30, 1950 by Bishop John Zhang Bide, Bishop of Zhaoxian. On December 26, 1957, he was sentenced to twenty years' imprisonment.
On March 9, 1983, he was consecrated Bishop of Zhaoxian. In the winter of 1985, he began the construction of a new seminary for the training of future priests and in 1988, began the construction of the monastery "Saint Teresa of the Infant Jesus Institute,” for the education of religious sisters and care of the orphanage “House of Dawn,” which was much appreciated by the whole community. That orphanage, one of the first established by the Catholic Church after the political openings of the 1980s, has been a great means of evangelization. Through it, many people have come to know the Catholic Church. It currently continues to receive hundreds of abandoned children, mostly people with physical and mental disabilities.
In 1988, five years after his consecration as Bishop, Bishop Wang was officially recognized by the government as Bishop of Zhaoxian, but after the consecration of his Coadjutor, Bishop Joseph Jiang Mingyuan, he was forbidden to publicly exercise the episcopal ministry. In 2005, he resigned from the diocese, but in 2006 he became its head once more, due to the illness of the Coadjutor Bishop. In 2008, the Diocese celebrated the 25th anniversary of his episcopate.
All those who knew Bishop Wang spoke of him as a simple man, intelligent and virtuous, with a strong faith in God and sincere loyalty to the Church. Bishop Wang was tireless in the work of evangelization, not discouraged by difficulties: he supervised visits to faith communities, assistance to the sick and weakest, promotion of vocations to the priesthood and women's religious life, reconstruction of churches and places of worship, and administration of the sacraments. He was truly a good shepherd for his sheep, whom he cared for with great passion, traveling on bicycle through the whole province, to visit communities without a priest. Throughout the diocese, you can see the mighty works wrought by this bishop, and the community he started and loved. The history of the Diocese was written largely by Bishop Wang. "From the time we were little - said Fr. Simon Gao Bojin - we were brought up by his testimony of total trust in God. Bishop Wang urged all believers to evangelize, by living a very simple and sober life."
Bishop Wang was a bishop of a great faith, who lived in a simple and unpretentious manner. He invited the faithful to pray without ceasing to be witnesses of God, light of the world, and salt of the earth. He very much loved, and helped others love the Pope and the doctrine of the Church. Until the last moment, he spent his life for others, working hard and suffering, but always with joy.
At the time of his death, the faithful and many friends have came from all the villages to offer their condolences. In the "House of Dawn," there were moving gestures from the children housed there. The funerals were celebrated in the Cathedral of Biancun on February 8, with the participation of many people: there was talk of 20,000 people in attendance. The body was buried in the church cemetery. A priest of his diocese greeted him with these words: "Bishop Raymond, even though you left us, we will never forget your selfless faith, your gratuitous gift of self, your simple and industrious life, your noble moral character, and your ability to look to the future with Christian hope. The great Chinese master Laozi Dao wrote: 'The saints love all the people with all their heart," and this was just your spirit, Bishop Wang: all your life you have loved with the heart of Christ."
The Diocese of Zhaoxian now has 60,000 Catholics, 60 priests, 124 religious sisters, 170 minor seminarians, and 52 major seminarians, and 145 churches and places of worship. (Agenzia Fides 17/02/2010)