Vatican City (Agenzia Fides) - On the morning of 7 May 2020, His Exc. Mgr. Joseph Zhu Baoyu, Bishop Emeritus of Nanyang, in Henan, died at the age of 99. The death occurred at the convent of the Sisters of the Diocesan Congregation of the Immaculate Conception, with whom he lived and prayed, imparting them the blessing every evening.
Mgr. Joseph Zhu Baoyu was born on July 2, 1921 in Pushan, Henan. His father died when he was 6 and his mother entrusted him to the Catholic orphanage in Jingang. Two years later he received baptism together with his mother. He attended primary school at Simeone Volonteri College, in the same Catholic complex. Then he entered the Sacred Heart minor Seminary, continuing to attend high school in the same college. From 1946 he studied philosophy and theology at the regional Seminary of the Archdiocese of Kaifeng.
He was ordained a priest in 1957 by His Exc. Mgr. Peter Fan Xueyan, Bishop of Baoding.
After his ordination he carried out his priestly ministry in several churches in the Diocese of Nanyang. From 1964 to 1967 he was sentenced to forced labor because of his faith. Later he was allowed to return to his hometown, Pushan, where he carried out his ministry in secret. In 1981 he was again sentenced to ten years of forced labor as an anti-revolutionary. Released in 1988, he was able to resume his ministry in several parishes.
On March 19, 1995, feast of St. Joseph, he was ordained Coadjutor Bishop of Nanyang by His Exc. Mgr. Jin Dechen, diocesan Bishop and His Exc. Mgr. Zhang Huaixin and His Exc. Mgr. Shi Jingxian as co-consecrants. He succeeded Mgr. Dechen as Pastor of the Diocese on November 23, 2002.
Due to his advanced age, in 2010 he submitted his resignation to the Apostolic See. Due to health reasons, he retired first in a hospice for the elderly in Jinggang and then at the Sisters of the Immaculate Conception, where he died. In February he had been hospitalized and tested positve for Coronavirus, from which he was however cured.
His funeral was held in Jinggang on May 9, 2020. The diocese of Nanyang today has about twenty thousand Catholics, about twenty priests and hundreds of nuns. (Agenzia Fides, 23/5/2020)