Bishop Augustine Hu of Shiqian
Bishop Augustine Hu Daguo of Shiqian, southwestern Guizhou province, died early February 17 at the age of 88.
The underground bishop, whom the government recognized only as a priest, was unable to serve his diocese in the eastern part of Guizhou, and his movements were restricted in the St. Joseph’s Cathedral in Guiyang city, the provincial capital, for many years.
Coadjutor Bishop Paul Xiao Zejiang of Guiyang (Guizhou) said Hu died of complications led by lung cancer at around 2 a.m. The young bishop and two priests then dressed his body with vestments and held a requiem service at his bedside.
Bishop Hu’s body is now placed at the cathedral for Catholics to pay their last tribute until his funeral, in the status of a priest, scheduled on February 20.
Bishop Xiao explained that Guizhou province already has two bishops and “we had a consensus with him that he served as a priest here and our diocese looked after him and supported his living.”
The “open” Church authority merged the province’s three dioceses, namely Anlong, Guiyang and Shiqian, into Guizhou diocese in 1999. Bishop Anicetus Wang Chongyi of Guiyang, 93, heads the new diocese. He and his coadjutor are also Vatican-approved bishops.
Bishop Hu’s integrity and loyalty to God has won respect from many local Catholics. A layperson surnamed Li described his death was “a loss of our laypeople as well as the Church.”
An open priest of Guiyang said Bishop Hu was kind-hearted to priests and laypeople. “For a bishop who cannot exercise his episcopate, death is happiness for him.”
Father John, an underground priest, pledged to succeed his bishop’s “legacy to follow Jesus loyally throughout our life.”
Bishop Hu was born into a Catholic family in 1922. He entered Guiyang diocesan seminaries since 1934 and was eventually ordained a priest in 1951.
He served as a teacher of major seminary and assistant parish priest until he was arrested for his faith in 1955. He was sentenced to reform-through-labor and released in 1979. Since then, he had served as a parish priest.
In 1987, he received his episcopal ordination secretly from Bishop Peter Joseph Fan Xueyan of Baoding and got recognition from the Holy See later on.
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