ASIA/CHINA - Elderly Bishop Thaddeus Guo Yingong of Datong leaves precious heritage: baptised at the age of 12 he withstood 13 years in re-education camp with faith and courage

Friday, 21 January 2005

Datong (Fides Service) - Bishop Thaddeus Guo Yingong of Datong in mainland China, Shanxi province, died at the age of 88 after a long illness at Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary Hospital. Thaddeus Guo Yingong was born in 1917 at Xibu in the district of Datong, to non Christian parents. At the age of 12 he asked for baptism and at 16 he entered the minor seminary in Xiwanzi, Hebei. In 1939 he went to Suiyuan major seminary at Hohhot and, after completing his studies for the priesthood at Datong seminary, was ordained a priest on 4 August 1946.
Before 1980 he suffered persecution and spent 13 years in re-education camps bearing with courage and faith the suffering of not being able to celebrate Mass or have contact with his Catholic community. After his release he was appointed director of Shanxi (Taiyuan) major seminary and in 1990 he was made Bishop of Datong.
The elderly Bishop loved to tell his priests about his baptism at the age of 12. He was a man of humility and chose to live in extreme poverty, even refusing a bookcase for his many books. Bishop Guo founded a diocesan congregation of nursing sisters, Sisters of the Sacred Heart the first congregation founded in Datong diocese. During the last few days of his life he was comforted by expressions of esteem and respect from clergy and sisters who made daily visits to his bedside at the hospital.
In his last hours the Bishop thanked God for his life and for the people around him and he said he was in peace and ready to meet the Lord. Datong diocese, vast area of 20,000km in north Shanxi, is very poor. Datong has a population of 4 million. The Bishop’s funeral was held in the Cathedral on 12 January and he was buried in the cathedral cemetery. (S.L.) (Agenzia Fides 21/1/2005 - Righe 22; Parole 333)