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Myanmar bishop dedicated to spiritual nourishment dies of Covid

Bishops' conference pays tribute to Bishop John Hsane Hgyi as a good shepherd in a time of crisis
Myanmar bishop dedicated to spiritual nourishment dies of Covid

Bishop John Hsane Hgyi of Pathein celebrates a Mass on Dec. 14, 2020. (Photo supplied)

Published: July 22, 2021 07:47 AM GMT
Updated: July 22, 2021 08:12 AM GMT

A Myanmar bishop who was dedicated to giving moral and spiritual nourishment to the faithful has succumbed to Covid-19.

Bishop John Hsane Hgyi of Pathein died in Pathein town on July 22. He was 67.

The late bishop had stayed in his room in self-isolation after feeling unwell since July 16, according to church officials.

“He also suffered from diabetes and had a low oxygen level last night and the clergy tried to give medication through the help of doctors. But he passed away around 6.15am today,” Father Henry Eikhlein, social-pastoral program director of Pathein Diocese, said on July 22.

His funeral service was being held with limited attendees under Covid-19 regulations on July 22 afternoon.

Bishop Hsane Hgyi frequently reminded priests, religious and laypeople about Covid-19 prevention and urged them to focus on raising awareness of the deadly virus.

He was really a good shepherd leading many Catholics of Myanmar to moral support and spiritual strength in this time of crisis

“We need to do prevention as there is no proper healthcare service and a lack of volunteers and healthcare workers at quarantine centers. The rate of infections is rising and the death toll has risen, so we must be very careful about the danger of the virus,” he said in early June.

The bishop was one of the most active internet users among church leaders in Myanmar, where he started to use the internet to provide spiritual nourishment through daily Masses, prayers, sermons and novenas.

The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Myanmar (CBCM) said it was deeply moved with sorrow by the sudden passing of Bishop Hsane Hgyi.

“He was really a good shepherd leading many Catholics of Myanmar to moral support and spiritual strength in this time of crisis,” it said in a statement signed by president Cardinal Charles Bo and general secretary Bishop John Saw Yaw Han.

The Good Shepherd Sisters in Myanmar said the late bishop always set a good example.

“His death comes amid the prevailing injustice and lack of peace, so we ask you to pray to the Lord for justice and peace in the country,” the sisters said.

Bishop Hsane Hgyi was born on Dec. 15, 1953. He was ordained a priest on March 7, 1982, and appointed auxiliary bishop of Pathein on March 22, 2003. He was installed as bishop of Pathein on Aug 24, 2003.

The late prelate was serving as vice-president of the CBCM and chairman of the Episcopal Commission for Ecumenism and Interreligious Dialogue.

Six priests and a nun died of Covid-19 in Myanmar in June and July, while several priests have been infected with the virus.

Myanmar is facing a worsening third wave amid a lack of oxygen and overwhelmed hospitals following mismanagement by the junta that took power in a Feb. 1 coup.

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