Last Tuesday, 10,000 Chinese Catholics attended the funeral of Father Joseph Jia Fuqian, uncle of “underground” Bishop Julius Jia Zhiguo of Zhengding. Fr Jia died on 26 December, aged 88.
In 1940, he took his first vows in the St Paul’s Congregation of the Zhengding diocese. When the Catholic Patriotic Association was established in 1958, he refused to join and was sentenced to twenty years of "reform-through-labour", a sentence he served in full.
In 1981, three years after his release, now 61 years old, he was ordained a priest by Bishop Peter Joseph Fan Xueyan of Baoding. Bishop Fan was himself a prominent underground Church leader in Hebei, and died in detention in 1992.
Fr Jia's funeral was celebrated by his uncle, Bishop Jia at Christ the King Cathedral in Wuqiu village in the Hebei province. The Bishop lives at the Cathedral watched by public security officers. About 60 priests of Zhengding concelebrated at the Mass but it is thought that many other priests from outside the province, who had been warned by the security forces not to concelebrate, were in the congregation.
In addition to his witness to the faith under persecution which encouraged the young to persevere, Fr Jia was known as a zealous and devout pastoral priest.
The security forces did not attempt to curtail the celebration of this holy man's funeral.
(See the full report at the news service of the Union of Catholic Asian News.)