Pedro Kuo

This is how Monsignor Nicolás Shi described this witness of the proven faith, who began to drink within the family, since Pablo’s father was a catechist in his own Kuoho town Siayihsien.

Father Pedro Kuo was the youngest of the Recollect priests when they expelled the Augustinian Recollect missionaries of Kweiteh. In the following words of Monsignor Nicolás Shi, you can appreciate the greatness of this religious and the high esteem in which the holy bishop had:

Father Kuo died young, in the full bloom of his life. What a pity! How often I remember his death, the more it makes me cry. I can say that Father Kuo was the glory of the Church of Shangqiu and the honor of our Order. The death of Father Kuo was a great loss for the Church and our Order. When he was in court, he never said a word that profaned the Church or its clergy.

Father Pedro was born on January 19, 1924, in Kuoho Siayihsien. His parents were Pablo and Teresa. His father must have been a catechist and head of the community in his town, since, as his son will remember in his obituary, his father dedicated his life to the dissemination of the sacred doctrine.

Coming from a family with a deep Catholic tradition, Pedro Kuo entered the minor seminary of Saint Augustine when he was a child, and on July 15, 1940, he was admitted to the novitiate of the Order taking the habit from the prior general Leoncio Reta, along with Marcos She. He professed as a religious a year later, on July 16, 1941. He made his solemn profession on January 20, 1945.

In March 1948, the prior provincial made the canonical visit. The great concern of the provincial was the fate that the Chinese seminarians could suffer, hence the consult with the religious coming from the mission about the resolution that had to be taken in those circumstances, so that they could continue their ecclesiastic studies with tranquility. He decided to transfer all the religious who were carrying out theological studies at the missionary school of the Dominican Fathers of Hong Kong, leaving the diocesans at the Kaifeng major seminary.

Thus, in mid-August 1948, Pedro Kuo and the rest of the trainees left the mission accompanied by their trainers. They arrived in Shanghai, and from there, with their teacher, Father Francisco Lizarraga, they left for Hong Kong doing a short stopover on the island of Formosa (Taiwan). They arrived in Hong Kong on the 2nd of September and were received by the bishop-elect of the diocese of Amoy, Monsignor Juan Bautista Velasco Díaz, Dominican religious, by the prior of the convent A. Valbuena, and the attorney of the house, who took them to the missionary college of Rosary Hill.

We were received by the entire Community with that familiarity and affection typical of the Religious as if we were brothers of their Order. I can’t find words to express and thank them for the good treatment they give these Recollects.

Along with the seminarians, two of the three newly ordained priests also went to Hong Kong-Chinese (Joseph She and Lucas Wang), to complete their studies and attend the missiology classes taught there to priests. Pedro Kuo, Marcos She, and José Wang, who were already in their last year of theology, would be ordained deacons in Hong Kong in September 1949, and from there they were transferred to Manila, where they would be ordained priests on March 3, 1950.

When Monsignor Arturo Quintanilla entered the mission after his episcopal consecration, seeing that at the time the communists had been in the city of Kweiteh they had not bothered the missionaries much and they allowed the cultist’s celebrations, believing that this situation would continue like this, he asked the superiors, with all the best will, to send the five Chinese priests back to the mission Manila residents: José She, Lucas Wang, José Wang, Marcos She and Pedro Kuo. The superiors agreed to the request. The two youngest, Marcos She and Pedro Kuo, were sent to Beijing, to the Catholic university “Fu-ren”, to complete studies in Chinese literature at the Colegio Sinico. Kuo, failing the entrance exam, was assigned to Shanghai as vice-procurator and parish priest, so that, given the upcoming expulsion of the foreigners, he would take charge of the affairs of the procuratorate.

He remained in Shanghai as vice-procurator and parish priest of the Via Xian-Shai parish (the chapel of the Augustinian-Recollect residence had the rank of Parish of the Archdiocese of Shanghai) and assistant of the Legion of Mary, directing the members to exercise all the obligations and activities that the manual of the Legion demands. In his pastoral work with parishioners and members of the Legion he showed his apostolic zeal, his fearless faith, and his ingenuity in ministry. He had many pastoral successes and gained the esteem of Christians because he was a good and zealous priest, faithful to the Catholic Church and the Holy See.

Convinced that foreign missionaries were the support of the Chinese priests and that they were responsible for the fact that the patriotic church did not prosper, the communists started a smear campaign and false accusations against the foreign missionaries present in Shanghai in August 1953.

About thirty of them were imprisoned under charges of espionage and counterrevolutionary activities. After the campaign against foreigners, the communists tried to convince the Chinese priests to join the National Patriotic Church. Once a month for two years, Father Pedro Kuo was summoned by the police to meetings of indoctrination. He always remained faithful and always gave his refusal to join the Patriotic Church.

After the failure of this campaign, on the night of September 8, 1955, the coup of force arrived against the Catholic Church in Shanghai, imprisoning the bishops, priests, parish priests, and lay leaders of Catholic associations and youth.

At eleven o’clock that day, the police entered the office and arrested the Father Kuo and they searched his room, finding government bonds, some gold, money, etc. When they saw that, they said that he financed the counterrevolution. A couple of hours, after the registration was over, the deputy chief took out a letter from the communist government in which the arrest of Father Kuo for being anti-communist was ordered, counterrevolutionary, spy for the Vatican, the United States, etc. Everything silencing, the only true cause was Father Kuo’s refusal to collaborate with the National Patriotic Church, sponsored by the communists.

In the numerous and exhausting interrogations to which he was subsequently subjected, just as in public and private trials, he always gave proof of heroic fidelity.

– “The Pope, the communists called him, is an imperialist and cultural invader.”

– The Pope, Father Kuo answered fearlessly, he is nothing like that, he is the head of the Catholic Church”.

– Don’t you want to separate, they asked him, from an invader?

– No, I responded, I cannot separate myself from it because it is the center of Catholicism. Without him “True religion cannot exist.”

He was in prison for two years until he was sentenced to exile in the Qinghai mines for fifteen years. There he and Father Lucas Yuo met. Were providentially destined to carry the same staff from which hung the basket in which they transported the mineral. They did not make themselves known publicly for fear that they would separate. The company provided them with mutual comfort. The greeting was a smile.

The forced, arduous work, without rest and with very little food meant that, in 1958, with the great famine, Father Kuo died of hunger, cold, and fatigue.