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Bishop of the young mourned in Shandong

ZHOUCUN (SE): Bishop Joseph Ma Xuesheng, from the diocese of Zhoucun, in Shandong province of mainland China, died on February 8 just a little bit shy of his 90th birthday, Fides reported on February 22.

Born on 16 September 1923 in the district of Zouping, the late bishop started his vocational path at the local minor seminary.

After completing studies in philosophy and theology at seminaries in Hankou, Macau and Beijing, he was ordained a priest on 3 April 1957. However, due to government political pressure on the Church, he was forced to alternate his pastoral ministry with manual work as a cook up till 1966.

Then in 1966, at the beginning of the Cultural Revolution, he was sent to work in the fields, where he laboured until 1980. In 1988 he was ordained as coadjutor bishop of the diocese of Zhoucun, becoming the diocesan bishop in 1997.

Bishop Ma demonstrated great understanding towards young people during his lifetime, always seeking advice before making any decision.

The diocese of Zhoucun is situated in central Shandong and today has a Catholic community of about 18,000 people, 65 church buildings, 20 priests and a small community of sisters. The people say that the stable situation of the diocese at present is due to the commitment, faith and support of the late bishop.

In 2009, when a new coadjutor bishop was named, cerebral paralysis prevented Bishop Ma from taking part in the ordination of his successor, Bishop Joseph Yang Yongqiang, on 15 November 2010.

Bishop Ma was buried on February 18 in the church at Zibo. He returned to the house of the Father a few days after the death of 100-year-old Bishop Liu Jingshan di Yinchuan, from Ningxia.

The sacrifice and fidelity of this generation of bishops is testimony to their love for Christ and love for the people of China.

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