10/28/2016, 14.31
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Mgr Francis Tong Hui, emeritus bishop of Yulin, dies

by Maria Yuan

He had been ill for several years. He spent 15 years in prison for his faith. In 2011 he retired and was succeeded by Mgr John Baptist Yang Xiaoting. Since 1992, the diocese of Yulin also includes Yanan, one of the glorious places of the Long March.

Xi’an (AsiaNews) – Retired Bishop Francis Tong Hui of Yulin, northern Shaanxi, died of illness overnight on Oct. 27 at the age of 84.

Bishop Tong, who had been sick for years, was supposed to celebrate the 60th anniversary of his priestly ordination this coming Christmas, as he was ordained a priest on Dec. 23, 1956. He was a native of Lintong, Shaanxi.

After becoming a priest in those difficult years for the Church in China, he was jailed for 15 years in March 1965. He was freed in January 1980 and served as a parish pastor in several parishes in Xi’an diocese (Shaanxi).

In 1993, he became a vicar general of Yulin diocese, then headed by Bishop Wang Zhenye (1991-1999). On March 19, 1994, he was ordained the coadjutor bishop of Yulin. On April 25, 1999, he became the ordinary of Yulin diocese.

In 2010, John Baptist Yang Xiaoting was ordained coadjutor bishop of Yulin. At Yang’s ordination, Bishop Tong, who was ill, only made a brief appearance during the liturgy. On March 25, 2011, Bishop Tong officially retired.

Yulin diocese was a place of missionary activity of the Congregation of Sacred Heart of Mary and the Franciscan Order. It was named apostolic vicariate of Yan’an in 1924. In 1992, that changed to Yulin diocese, covering Yulin city and Yan’an city. Yan’an was once an important revolutionary base of China’s Communists.

According to an online news report dated Sept 1, 2016 by the Shijiazhuang-based Faith Press in China, Yulin diocese has 46 churches, and 73 prayer houses and activities sites. The diocese is served by 34 priests and 36 sisters. It has about 70,000 Catholics.

The diocese is building a 50-metre-tall church, with a width of 28 metres and 60 metres in length, reportedly to be the largest church in northwestern China, the report said.

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