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Received: Jan. 21, 2006

Pope Benedict XVI appointed
Fr. John Hung Shan-Chuan
as Bishop of Chiayi, Taiwan.

n Monday, January 16 at noon time in Rome, 7 PM in the China Province, it was announced that Pope Benedict XVI appointed Fr. John Hung Shan-Chuan SVD as Bishop of Chiayi, Taiwan.

Our new Bishop was born in Penghu on November 20, 1943. His Chinese full name is Hung Shan-Chuan. The Hung family comes from 'Penghu', the islands called by the westerners as 'Pescadores', located between China and Taiwan. His grandfather and most of his relatives worked in tombstone carving. Fr. Hung is the eldest in a family of five brothers and two sisters. In 1948 his parents moved to Taiwan, to live in the Southern city port of Kaohsiung. His father did not like the tombstone work so he moved to Chuchi, in Chiayi County - where they have a relative - to do the hard work of transporting goods in a tricycle.

As a boy Shan Chuan studied his primary school in Chuchi. As a young man, instead of going for Secondary School leading to university, he went to a Vocational School to learn a profession. He went back to Kaohsiung to prepare himself for future working in Canned Fish Industry. Because of budget constrains he had to earn some money after school. He worked with his relatives in tomb stone carving. During this time he was impressed by a student of his school who was a Catholic and decided to know about his religion.

After graduation he went back to Chuchi, but going every day to work as an intern in the Gaoliang Wine Factory in Chiayi. During evening and weekends he went to the Catholic Church of Chuchi where he knew Fr. Thais SVD. He enrolled in Catechesis classes with Mr. Tu and Mr. Luo. He had to answer every day a test taken by Fr. Thais.

After few months he was baptized with the Christian name of John, for John the Baptist.

Fr. Thais took notice of his abilities and sent him to Bo Ai Road Church in Chiayi to the school for Catechists run by Fr. Tauch SVD. After finishing his course Fr. Thais hired him as a Catechist.

During those days Fr. Thais gave him the idea of becoming a priest and John accepted it with great enthusiasm. Because he wanted his family to understand his option he was very diligent in preaching to his own family and managed to persuade them. His father, Mr. Hung Sun Tian was baptized as Augustine and his mother Mrs. Hung Tsai Ying as Martha. All his brothers and sisters were baptized with his parents.

Then he had to do the military service 2 years. He was sent to Taichung and became a sergeant, having the task to do training for new soldiers. He declined the invitation to be an officer. During his free time he studied Latin with a Hungarian Jesuit priest.

After finishing his military service Fr. Thais sent him for half a year to study English with the students of Fu Jen High School, and then for one year to Fu Jen University for more English.

In 1967 he went to the Philippines to do the novitiate in Tagaytay. He professed first vows in 1969. He was a classmate of Fr. Antonio Pernia, now the Superior General of the SVD, and of Fr. Greg Sebastian, missionary in Taiwan.

Then he had finished his philosophy and the studied four years of Theology. He attended summer classes in University Santo Tomas in Education. It was a hard time because he was six years older than his classmates, and during those days his level of English was not as good as his Filipino classmates.

He professed final vows and was ordained priest in 1973, before finishing his studies, as was the custom those days. Fr. Thais and his mother, Mrs. Martha Hung went for the ordination. After the ordination he did his fourth year of Theology and then in one more year he did an MA in Philosophy.

In 1975 Fr. Hung was back in Taiwan. Fr. Thais felt as Simeon in the Gospel, that he could go in peace; he was sick with cancer so he went back to Germany and died very soon. Then Fr. Hung became parish priest in his home town of Chuchi. Through a friend who worked in the census he looked for all university students from his village and formed a very successful youth group. Fr. Provincial Chu noticed his ability to work with the youth and asked him in 1977 to leave Chuchi and work in Fu Jen High School. He was there for 2 years.

In 1979 he moved to Taipei to work in the Bishops' Conference under Archbishop Joseph Ti Kang, as secretary of 3 commissions: Propagation of Faith, Lay Council and Evangelization. Fr. Hung was also National Chaplain of Young Christian Workers. He knew at that time people as Ou Jinde, who later on was Minister of State and Vice Major of Taipei City.

Working with well educated people made him feel the need for being better trained so he applied for a PhD. He was allowed to study Counseling at the Catholic University of America, in Washington DC, between 1981 and 1986. He had to do practicum and he did it with juveniles. His dissertation was on the 'Consensus Between mutual expectations of Chinese Students and their moderator in USA universities'. During these years he helped Fr. Tu to form the Chinese Catholic Church in Rockville, Our Lady of China Parish.

In 1986 he came back to Taiwan and was sent to Fu Jen University to do Campus Ministry. He was in charge of the University Chapel. During those days he was asked by Archbishop Ti Kang to begin working also in Prison Ministry. He still has this apostolate and he has recruited 600 members among them 300 volunteers who go weekly to 50 different jails along Taiwan.

In 1987 he was appointed Dean of Students of Fu Jen University.

In 1992 he was asked by the SVD to go back to Chiayi and be the Principal of Fu Jen High School. He was almost 14 years in this position.

Besides his main job as Principal of the high school he gives Religion classes to a group of ladies every week and he also has a Bible Study Group with Doctors and other professionals. He often helps in the parishes near Chiayi city.

In 1987 he has elected Admonitor of the China Province. He was Vice Provincial in the term 1993-1996, Provincial Councilor on 2002-2005 and now again Vice Provincial since March 1, 2005.

Since 2003 he is also the Mission Secretary of the China Province.

On October 2005 he was appointed National Director for Taiwan of the Pontifical Mission Societies.

Few weeks ago he suffered the death of his mother, who died on December 21, 2005 and was buried on January 7, 2006. His father died in 1994.

The very day of his mother's burial the Nunciature got the news that Fr. Hung had been appointed Bishop of Chiayi, news that were made public 9 days later.

Fr. Hung has a good sense of humor. He likes sports and keeps a very good physical condition by playing tennis every week. He has a great sensitivity for Chinese Art, especially carving, both in wood and stone.

He is one of the best speakers in the Church of Taiwan. He is always invited to give talks in both Mandarin and Taiwanese. Now his command of English is very good too. He likes to talk about the Catholic Characteristic of Fu Jen High School and he is often invited by non Church organizations to speak in this and other topics. He goes to the Rotary and Lions Club, to the Women's League, etc. He has a great missionary zeal and uses every opportunity to present our faith to those who don't know it.

The members of the China Province of the Divine Word Missionaries are happy and proud that one of them has been appointed for such a high responsibility in the Church.

Personally I want to express my joy for this appointment and give thanks to God for what He has done in our community through Fr. John Hung. I have been working with him in Fu Jen High School for eight years when I was teaching Ethics and as Provincial we has worked in the same team, first when he was Councillor and the last year as our Vice Provincial.

We pray to God the Father that - through his Son Jesus Christ, the Divine Word made flesh - He may send his Holy Spirit on our beloved confrere, Father John Hung Shan-Chuan SVD, so that he become a Bishop who could strengthen the faith of the priests, sisters, seminarians and faithful of the Diocese of Chiayi that they become enthusiastic witness of God's love for every man and woman and with all his faithful could become a missionary diocese, able to attract many new people to Jesus Christ.

Praised be to the One and Triune God!

Sergio Edwards SVD
SIN Superior Provincial