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Bishop of Yichang dies, aged 45

Open prelate's passing leaves all five Hubei dioceses without a head

Bishop Francis Lu Shouwang of Yichang who has died aged 45 Bishop Francis Lu Shouwang of Yichang who has died aged 45
  • ucanews.com reporter, Yichang
  • China
  • May 3, 2011
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The funeral of Bishop Francis Lu Shouwang of Yichang, central Hubei province, took place this morning.

About 500 Catholics and government officials attended the Mass at the St. Francis’ Cathedral, presided by Bishop Joseph Li Shan of Beijing.

The 45-year-old ethnic Tujia prelate died of acute pancreatitis on April 30 at a hospital in Wuhan, the provincial capital.

Bishop Lu had been critically ill since September. He was the first young Chinese bishop in the “open” Church community to die under the age of 60.

After cremation, Bishop Lu’s ashes will be buried in the planned Church cemetery adjacent to the historic church in Changyang county.

Father Li of Yichang said people are grieving and cannot accept the fact of the sudden death of Bishop Lu as they all thought he could recover.

“When he was alive, we often thought he was not good at this, not good at that. Actually in these three years, he made many contributions and strained himself for the diocese quietly, but we did not realize,” the priest said with regret.

Born in 1966, Bishop Lu graduated from the Central and Southern China Theological and Philosophical Seminary in Wuhan and was ordained a priest in 1991. After serving in a parish for a year, he began teaching moral theology and biblical studies in the seminary.

In 1999, his predecessor Bishop Paul Francis Zhang Mingqian assigned him to work in the diocesan curia and appointed him vicar general. He was ordained with papal mandate and government recognition in 2007, two years after Bishop Zhang died.

After the death of Bishop Lu, all five dioceses in Hubei do not have a bishop. Bishop Tu Shihua of Puqi, 92, who is not in communion with the pope, has been residing in Beijing for many years.

The open Church structure merged the nine dioceses and two apostolic prefectures in the province into five dioceses in 1999. Yichang diocese, which covers 23 cities and counties along the midstream of the Yangtze River, currently has 24 priests, 12 nuns and 30,000 faithful.

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