Fr. Yao, 54, was consecrated by Msgr. Paul Meng Qinglu of Hohhot (Inner Mongolia). Other co-consecrators included Msgr. Mattia Du Jiang of Bameng (Inner Mongolia), Msgr. Joseph Li Jing of Ningxia (Ningxia), Msgr. Paul Meng Ningyou of Taiyuan (Shanxi). More than 120 priests concelebrated, many of whom are natives of the diocese of Jining, but serve other dioceses in the country.
This was the first episcopal ordination since the provisional agreement by the Holy See and China on 22 September 2018. The agreement signed in Beijing concerns episcopal nominations. Its content have never been disclosed, but several Vatican experts say that with the agreement, China recognizes the need for a bishop to be appointed by the pontiff. This morning's ordination could be the fruit of the agreement mechanism. But some bishops and faithful of China think that the Pope appointed Msgr. Yao long before the agreement.
Mgr. Yao was born in Ulanqab in 1965. He was ordained a priest in 1991, after having completed his studies at the national seminary in Beijing. From 1994 to 1998 he studied in the United States, pursuing a specialization in liturgy and spent a period in Jerusalem devoting himself to biblical studies.
In the 1990s he taught in the national seminary and was also spiritual director. He worked a lot in the liturgical commission, which depends on the Patriotic Association and the Council of Chinese Bishops, from 1998 to 2004 as secretary, and from 2004 until today as vice director.
His predecessor, Msgr. John Liu Shigong died in 2017. Since then the diocese has been vacant.
The Diocese of Jining (Ulanqab) has about 70 thousand faithful, served by 30 priests and 12 nuns. The leaflet of the ordination of Msgr. Yao says that the diocese was founded in 1929 and that the Marian shrine of Mozishan is the heart of the diocese.
The motto chosen by the new bishop is "Misericordes sicut pater" ("Be merciful as your Father is", the motto of the 2015-2016 Jubilee). Msgr. Yao explained that he hopes to be merciful like Jesus and like the heavenly Father: "May the Scripture inspire us to have more wisdom and the Sacraments nourish our lives.”.