Yichang (AsiaNews) – The diocese of Yichang diocese (Hubei), located in the Three Gorges Dam Project area along Yangtze River, faces a vacant Episcopal See again, only three years after their 45-year-old incumbent died. He had been ordained a bishop in November 2007. This adds to the list of dioceses without a bishop.
Bishop Lu Shouwang died of pancreas disease on 30 April, in early morning, at a hospital in Wuhan City. His body was transferred back to Yichang city, and the funeral took place yesterday. He had been ordained with papal approval and Chinese government recognition.
Bishop Li Shan of Beijing led the funeral Mass, which was concelebrated by Bishop Lu’s seminary classmates, including the newest bishop, Mgr Liang Jiansen of Jiangmen (Guangdong). Bishop He Zeqing of Wanzhou, also from a neighbouring diocese in the Three Gorges area, also took part in the service.
“Our bishop suddenly departed from us, and now we priests have to stay united and keep the diocese stable,” said Fr Li Xiaoguo of Yichang, former vicar general, as he spoke to AsiaNews.
During his three years’ episcopacy, Bishop Lu was instrumental in getting seven churches built, two of which are currently under construction. He also encouraged education among his parishioners and trained local Catholics for evangelisation, Father Li said.
Yichang diocese has 23 priests, 11 nuns and about 30,000 Catholics.
Bishop Lu was hospitalised in Wuhan since September 2010, during which his condition was critical at times. Most of his medical fees, more than 1 million yuan, were paid by the government. Some costs were born by the local Church, sources said.
Born in 1966, Bishop Lu entered the Central and Southern Regional Seminary in Wuhan 1985. He was ordained a priest in 1991 and served in a parish. In 1992-1997, he worked at the seminary in Wuhan. In 1999, he was named vicar general of Yichang diocese. In 2005, he began to deal with diocesan affairs. In 2006, he was elected bishop of Yichang, and became its bishop in 2007.