ASIA/CHINA - Heze diocese mourns its Bishop Joseph Wang Dian Duo: ten months of the year he would visit parishes on his bicycle encouraging the people in the faith and administering the Sacraments

Friday, 30 July 2004

Heze (Fides Service) -Bishop Joseph Wang Dian Duo, O.A.R Bishop of Heze, Tsachow, mainland China died of a heart attack at the age of 83 on Tuesday 27 July.
Born on 3 February 1921, on leaving school in 1938, Joseph entered the Novitiate of the Augustinian Fathers and made his solemn profession on 16 March 1940. After studying philosophy and theology in Hong Kong he went to Manila, where he was ordained a priest on 3 March 1950. He was appointed a Bishop and ordained on December 8 1996.
Heze diocese has an area half the size of Albania and is situated in northeast China, in Shandong, on the border with Henan. The Beijing - Hong Kong railway passes through Heze.
The diocese had 30 churches, all of which were destroyed in the early 1980s including a beautiful cathedral known all over China.
Bishop Joseph Wang Dian Duo was arrested three times: in 1951 for three months, in 1955 for ten years, in 1968 for another ten years. The people of his diocese will never forget that he spent at least twenty years in prison for the faith. They remember him as a man of deep faith and apostolic zeal. Ten months of the year he would visit his people riding his bicycle. He administered the sacraments and encouraged the people in their faith and tried to build up the communities including the places of worship.
One of his main concerns was to rebuild the cathedral which he consecrated in 2001 in the presence of 20,000 local Catholics. The cathedral is still the only church in the diocese. People in this area are mainly farmers with little economic resources to build new churches.
The diocese has 3 priests, 5 seminarians and 6 women religious for the pastoral care of 20,000 Catholics amidst a population of 8 million. With God’s help the ‘leaven’ left by Bishop Joseph will cause the Church to grow. The funeral will take place in Heze Cathedral on 31 July. (Agenzia Fides 30/7/2004 - Righe 27; Parole 362)