09/26/2016, 14.49
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Taizhou bishop dies, he had been recognised by the pope and Beijing

by Zhen Yuan

Mgr Antony Xu Jiwei, 81, died of illness. He had entered the seminary in 1948 but was not ordained due to China’s "political events" until 1985. He spent several years in prison and hard labour. "The period of imprisonment has strengthened my faith,” Bishop Xu once said, “every day.” Since the diocese was founded, it has had only two bishops. Xu’s predecessor, Mgr Jou Hou-shan, was one of the first six Chinese bishops ordained by Pius XI.

Taizhou (AsiaNews) – Bishop Anthony Xu Jiwei, of the diocese of Taizhou (Zhejiang province), died yesterday due to illness at the age of 81. He was ordained bishop with a papal mandate in 2010 and was recognised by the Chinese government.

Bishop Xu’s death comes three weeks after that of Mgr Vincent Zhu Weifang, bishop of the neighbouring diocese of Wenzhou, in the same province.

The Requiem Mass for Mgr Xu is set for this Thursday (29 September) at 7.30 pm, whilst the funeral service will be held at 5 am the next day.

Born in 1935 in Shanghai, Antony Xu Jiwei answered the calling to the priesthood at the age of 13 years. He studied at the seminary in Ningbo and then in that of Xujiahui, Shanghai.

He was always faithful and determined to offer himself to serve God even in times of difficulty, as noted in the obituary of diocese of Taizhou.

The bishop entered the seminary in Ningbo in 1948. Later he moved to the Shanghai seminary where he remained until 1958. From 1960 to 1985, during China’s political events, he was sentenced to five years in prison and later to long years of hard labour. During this period, he spent six years as a high school teacher.

In 1985, his sentence was revoked and he was sent to Shanghai where he joined the Sheshan regional seminary with the first group of seminarians allowed to study. Most of these were former seminarians, forced to leave school during the Cultural Revolution.

In 1985 he was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Ningbo, but he remained in Sheshan to teach. In 1987, he returned to Nigbo to work as a pastor.

In March 1999 he was transferred to Taizhou as a diocesan administrator and pastor of the church in Jiaojiang. In July 2010 he was consecrated as bishop of the same diocese.

"The period of imprisonment has strengthened my faith,” Bishop Xu once said. “During that period of great trial, I prayed every day ... I realised that God loves me deeply and it is with me every day.”

The diocese of Taizhou is famous in the history of the Chinese Church because its first bishop, Mgr Jou Hou-shan, was among the first group of six Chinese bishops ordained by Pope Pius XI in October 1926.

Since it became an Apostolic Vicariate in 1926, separate from Ningbo, Taizhou has had only two bishops: Mgr Jou and Mgr Xu. The first died in 1962, and the episcopal see was vacant until 2010. It is now vacant once again.

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