Zhanjiang (AsiaNews/UCAN) At least 2,000 people on November 9 attended the ceremony in which Mgr Paul Su Yongda was ordained bishop in Zhanjiang, Guangdong province (southern China). Guests from Hong Kong and Macau were also present. Only 300 people could get inside St. Victor's Cathedral. The rest had to stay outside and view the televised liturgy in the cathedral's open compound.
Bishop Fang Xingyao of Linyi, Shandong province, presided over the ordination. Co-ordaining prelates were Bishop Joseph Liao Hongqing of Meizhou, Guangdong, and Coadjutor Bishop Tan Yanquan of Nanning, Guangxi. Bishop Wu Shizhen of Nanchang, Jiangxi, was also present.
Prior to his ordination, the 49-year-old new bishop was the diocese's long time administrator.
As a sign of communion with John Paul II, he opted for 'Duc in altum' as Episcopal motto. The Pope had chosen these words to embody his vision of what the Church's mission ought to be in the third millennium (cf Apostolic letter Novo Millennio Ineunte of January 6, 2001).
Bishop Paul Su Yongda's coat of arms shows a boat sailing into open waters against a background of China's Great Wall and high rises, with a dove representing the Holy Spirit dangling an olive branch in the sky. Evangelisation among city people in his diocese is a major element of his mission.
With about 30,000 believers, Zhanjiang diocese has a sizeable Catholic community with the number of Catholics in rural areas steadily growing. However, for Bishop Su, it is time to "develop the Church in the cities with hopes of attracting educated people and thereby expanding the Church."
Zhanjiang diocese has five priests (including one in his 90s), four seminarians studying at Wuchang Seminary in Wuhan. Pastoral work falls to 20 nuns and the laity.
For many believers in Zhanjiang the new Bishop is a caring person. As proof they cite how he took care of his predecessor, the late Bishop Su, who passed away in 2003 after a stroke left him totally paralyzed for five years. One believer said that a few hours after his ordination, Bishop Su went to see Sister Yang, a 75-year-old wheelchair-bound blind nun, who had prayed to live to witness the ordination of the new bishop.
Bishop Su studied at the Wuchang Seminary in 1985 and was ordained a priest in 1991. He became cathedral parish pastor in 1997.
Till the late 1980s, the Church in Zhanjiang was part of Beihai (Pakhoi in Cantonese) diocese in Guangdong province. The government later revised the administrative divisions and placed Beihai under Guangxi, whilst Zhanjiang remained in Guangdong as a separate diocese. However, the Pontifical Yearbook still lists Zhanjiang as part of the diocese of Beihai.