China-appointed Bishop Joseph Qian Huimin of Nanjing died of heart disease (myocardial infarction) on May 20 at the age of 82.
Father Joseph Liu Yuanren, parish priest of Nanjing´s Immaculate Conception Cathedral, will serve as diocesan administrator until a new bishop is elected.
Since May 1992, Father Liu has been deputy rector of the national seminary in Beijing. He will take a leave from that post while serving in Nanjing, which is the capital of Jiangsu province, 920 kilometers southeast of Beijing.
Father Liu, 70, told UCA News on June 7 that the late bishop had long suffered from diabetes and senile dementia and had been hospitalized for two months before his death.
About 500 Catholics attended a requiem Mass concelebrated by 11 priests on May 22, Father Liu said. Bishop Qian was cremated May 25 and his remains are to be buried in Wuxi, 160 kilometers southeast of Nanjing, on June 22.
Bishop Qian was dedicated to developing religious vocations in the diocese where he was ordained bishop in 1981, Father Liu said. During his episcopacy, the diocesan convent was established in Wuxi in 1989 and 13 churches were restored or built, Father Liu noted.
Even as he lay dying, Bishop Qian asked all clerics to live up to their priesthood and strive their best to serve Catholics, he recalled.
Anthony Liu Bainian, vice-chairman of the government-sanctioned Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association, said Bishop Qian was very concerned about the priests and sisters in his diocese. Like a kind father, he cared for his "children," especially their spiritual life and for young priests, Liu said.
Bishop Qian was not a self-centered person but devoted himself to God, Liu described. The bishop was not only concerned with Nanjing diocese but all of China´s Catholics, he added. Liu recalled Bishop Qian had made suggestions to help strengthen the management of seminaries in China and to assist each diocese to achieve self-financing.
Born in a Catholic family in Zhangjiagang, Jiangsu province, in March 1911, Bishop Qian entered the Xujiahui major seminary in Shanghai in September 1934. In June 1940, he was ordained a priest at the cathedral of Haimen diocese in Jiangsu. He served in Qidong, Chongming, Haimen and Nantong.
From 1949 to 1980, he was vicar general of Haimen diocese. In 1980, he was appointed administrator of Nanjing diocese, and in July 1981, he was ordained bishop. Nanjing diocese now has 11 priests, 27 sisters and 60,000 Catholics.