On February 2, at the age of 88, Bishop Raymond Wang Chonglin died after 60 years of priesthood. He leaves behind an enormous legacy as the "truly good shepherd" of the Diocese of Zhaoxian, China, where the Christian communities he established remain.
The Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano (LOR) released a biographical sketch of Bishop Wang on Thursday. He was described as "a simple man, intelligent and virtuous ... and of sincere loyalty to the Church."
Out of his 60 years as a priest, 20 were spent in detention. Several years after his release, he was made bishop of Zhaoxian, where for most of the last 27 years he oversaw the care of the Catholic community as well as the construction of a seminary and convent. He also encouraged care for orphans and religious instruction.
LOR reported that for those who knew him, Bishop Wang was described as "inexhaustible in the work of evangelization, without letting himself be discouraged by the difficulty."
He was an active person, very dedicated to his ministry, what the Vatican newspaper called a "truly good shepherd for his sheep." Bishop Wang was known to make the rounds of his diocese on a bicycle to visit communities that lacked priests, returning to lead the diocese in his 80's after the bishop that had replaced him fell ill.
The history of the diocese, LOR related, "was written in great part by Bishop Wang" and the communities and projects brought about through his intervention can be seen throughout the province.
Fr. Simone Gao Bojin remembered that "from the time we were little, we were educated by his testimony of total trust in God; Bishop Wang urged all of the faithful to evangelize, living a very simple and sober life."
He was a man of great faith who "incessantly" invited the faithful to provide witness to God's love and expressed his love for the Pope and Church doctrine, while also creating that love in others.
LOR reported that "up to the final moment of his life he offered himself for others, working and suffering greatly, but always with joy."
His death saw many people from surrounding villages pour out their condolences and mourning in the orphanage that he founded. Twenty thousand people were estimated to have attended his funeral on Feb. 8.
A priest from his diocese remembered him, saying, "Bishop Raymond, even though you have left us, we will never forget your unselfish faith, your free devotion, the simple and hard working life, noble moral character and your capacity to look to the future full of Christian hope.
"The great Chinese teacher Laozi Dao wrote, 'Saints love all people with all their heart,' this is exactly your spirit, Bishop Wang, that throughout your life you loved with the heart of Christ."