Bishop John Lee Juo-wang is ordained at Sheng Kung Girls' High School in Tainan on Jan. 1. (UCA News photo)
Amid cheers and great enthusiasm, hundreds of Catholics welcomed the new bishop of Tainan Diocese in southern Taiwan.
Bishop John Lee Juo-wang was born to refugee parents and brings with him years of experience in pastoral ministry.
The fifth bishop of Tainan was ordained at the gymnasium hall of church-run Sheng Kung Girls' High School in Tainan city on Jan. 1. The 54-year-old prelate is the first native bishop of Tainan in three decades.
About 1,500 people including 100 priests, 11 bishops and the Vatican’s charge d’affaires Monsignor Arnaldo Catalan attended a ceremony that had Bishop Bosco Lin Chi-nan, the retired bishop of Tainan, as the main celebrant.
The crowd burst into cheers when Bishop Lin presented his successor. Bishop Lee then walked down the altar through the hallway to exchange greetings with the faithful.
The program was broadcast live to Catholics who couldn’t attend the program in person, presumably fearing coronavirus contagion.
Among the dignitaries were Taiwan’s former vice president Philip Chen and Huang Wei-cher, the mayor of Tainan municipality.
In his message, Chen hoped Bishop Lee would follow the footsteps of Bishop Lin in “promoting love” even during the time of the pandemic and foster the Church’s mission through evangelization, education and social services.
Mayor Huang praised the retired bishop for his great social service in past years and invited him to join the municipality as a consultant during his retired life.
Bishop Lee’s parents are immigrants who fled to Taiwan from mainland China amid political upheaval in the 1950s. He was born on Nov. 2, 1966.
His parents gave their youngest child to the local Lee family for adoption as they struggled financially, and then he was re-adopted again by the Huang family.
Bishop Lee attended Salesian High School in Tainan and entered a local minor seminary at the age of 12. He studied philosophy and theology at St. Pius X Seminary in Tainan (1984-92). He was ordained a priest on Jan. 1, 1993.
He served Tainan Cathedral Parish as assistant parish priest (1993-96) and Holy Name of Jesus Parish as parish priest (1996-99).
He later studied dogmatic theology and obtained a licentiate degree from the Pontifical Urban University in Rome.
He was appointed parish priest of the Causa Nostrae Laetitiae Shrine in 2002 and parish priest of St. Joseph’s Church in 2014.
He was also president of the Commission for the Promotion of Vocations and became chancellor of Tainan Diocese in 2017. From 2019 until the present, he has served as the vicar general of the diocese.
Catholics make up about 1 percent of Taiwan’s estimated population of 24 million. The Catholic Church of Taiwan has about 225,000 members spread across one archdiocese and six archdioceses. Tainan, one of the smallest dioceses, has about 7,500 Catholics.
Taiwan is a democratic republic and it maintains diplomatic relations with the Vatican to the dismay of communist China, which still considers Taiwan as part of its territory.