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Lawrence Bianchi

1899 ~ 1983

Born in Corteno, Italy. Bianchi was the "missionary of Hoi Fung" and the bishop who led the Catholic Church throughout the difficult period of the influx of refugees into Hong Kong. He is remembered for having shown an admirable spirit of service, openness, and cooperation with everyone.

Bianchi joined the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions in 1920 and was ordained a priest in 1922. He arrived in Hong Kong in 1923 and was soon assigned to the Hoi Fung District, where he worked until 1952, sharing the many hardships and the few joys of the local people that were the result of the chaotic conditions of those years.

On 10 Oct 1949, Bianchi was consecrated auxiliary bishop of Hong Kong, but soon after he returned to Hoi Fung to remain with his "sheep," to whom he felt he belonged, during the difficult times of the Communist takeover. He himself was arrested with three other priests and kept in custody until Oct 1952, when he returned to Hong Kong. He was warmly welcomed by Catholics there as their bishop, since in the meantime Mgr. H. Valtorta had died.

Bianchi soon had to face the great challenges posed by the influx of refugees from mainland China. Churches, chapels, and spiritual centers mushroomed. In a very unassuming and friendly way, but with a long-range vision, he encouraged and welcomed everyone by providing the services needed both for relief and for education, according to his motto, "We work for today and trust in God for tomorrow." He also made efforts to better coordinate and organize these services. For example, the various welfare agencies were gradually organized under Caritas-Hong Kong, while the Catechetical Center was set up in 1963.

Taking part in the Second Vatican Council in Rome (1962-65) mad Bianchi fully aware of the need for a local and new leadership of the diocese. Therefore, and also in view of his declining health, in 1968 he submitted his resignation, and in Apr 1969 he returned to Italy, hastening the handover of the direction of the church to the local clergy.

About the Author

By Sergio Ticozzi

Spiritual Director, P.I.M.E. International Theological Seminary, Cavite, Philippines

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