In a communique released today, the Holy See Press Office announced the death of Bishop John Chen Shizhong of Yibin in mainland China. Bishop Chen Shizhong passed away on December 16 at the age of 95.
According to the press release, Bishop Chen Shizhong was jailed in the 1950s during the Cultural Revolution and condemned to a forced labor camp. In 1985, he received episcopal ordination and went on to become rector of the regional seminary of Sichan. The Chinese prelate only served as rector for one year due to health problems and later was appointed as bishop of the diocese of Yibin, where he served for over 20 years.
"Remembering Bishop Chen Shizhong, his formation work with priests and religious is foremost," the communique stated.
"Thanks to him, during the 1980's and 1990's, vocations to the priesthood and religious life returned throughout the province. He ordained more than 30 priests, thus guaranteeing the Church's survival and development in a region marked by a severe Maoism and in which the harshness and the persecutions of the Cultural Revolution strongly characterized society and the life of the Church."
The communique concluded stating that Bishop Chen Shizhong's funeral was held on December 18thin the cathedral of Yibin and was attended by many priests, religious and faithful of the diocese. His remains were buried in the Catholic cemetery near the diocesan seminary.