(Most here know that our Beckita, Managing Editor of this site, cares for an aging Chinese Priest, Fr. Wang. Actually, Fr. Wang is an American Priest who was born in China. When the communists took over and started their reign of terror, Fr. Wang came to America where he has remained ever since. He writes Catholic Evangelical and Catechization Pamphlets which are distributed in China.
A week or so ago, I watched this short video Beckita sent as a tribute to Father’s life. It is amazing – and profoundly inspirational. It encapsulates the tragic history of China for much of the last century, while showing the impact one man who persists and endures can have. I particularly like it because, for those who will see, it shows a man who has already lived through a great and terrible storm. It illuminates the virtue and courage that are called for to endure such a storm – and be a sign of hope to those who endure it with you. I am proud that Fr. Wang is part of our community. A gentle, soft-spoken man, he epitomizes the exhortation to “Acknowledge God, take the next right step, and be a sign of hope,” because he has lived it all his life and continues to live it today. This story also gave me deeper insight as to why Beckita was such an inspired pick to manage this site.
It is written that, “He who endures to the end will be saved.” (Matthew 24:13). Fr. Wang’s picture does not appear next to that Scripture – but it could. This tale of heroic virtue, lived simply with fortitude and endurance, brought tears forth for me – tears of inspiration and resolve. May it do the same for you.-CJ)
By Beckita Hesse
I share, again, for those who may be relatively new here, that more than thirty years ago when I was on staff at a local parish, my family “adopted” an American priest of Chinese origin, Fr. John B. Wang. Our children grew up calling Father, “Grandpa,” and with the passing of my husband, I committed to providing care for Father as he continued to age. I have lived in residence with him since shortly after becoming a widow and, knowing that all of Father’s family remains in China, our bishop – who has since moved to another diocese – warmly thanked me for this willingness to assist. It is, also, a joy to collaborate with Father in all kinds of ministry activities. Neither he nor I would have dreamed or foreseen that our lives would evolve to be what they are at this juncture, yet, here we are. On pilgrimage to Europe in 2001, when some of our days were spent in Avila, providentially, we dedicated our friendship and ministry work to St. John of the Cross and St. Theresa of Avila.
Fr. Wang celebrated his 90th birthday in October and to honor him, his life and God’s wonders in him, I composed a song of simple melody expressing thanksgiving to God and blessings for Father, a tune easy to pick up so that our guests who came from near and far could readily join in the singing at the end of the Mass of Thanksgiving. I, also, put together a Power Point presentation, using that platform as a storyboard, which we viewed at the dinner. After the celebration, it was converted to movie format which I share with you, here, in the context of some of the themes and virtues we have been considering, pondering, discussing and developing in our lives over these years at TNRS and ASOH.
There are so many more inspirational stories within Fr. Wang’s big life story than what could be told in this presentation. He was literally saved from death, in more than a few circumstances, for he grew up during a dangerous time in China. God worked through some unusual circumstances, again and again, when there seemed to be no solution to the difficulties, such as the time when Father was completing his seminary studies. Each seminarian needs the written permission of his local bishop in order to be ordained. Back in China, his local ordinary, Bishop Pinger, an American missionary, was under house arrest. It was very difficult to make contact but, finally, word got to him that John Wang was seeking permission to be ordained. With no paper available, no books around, nothing to write on, and nothing with which to write, a pen was smuggled in and the Bishop used some kind of toilet paper on which he wrote a few lines in Latin: “Under these circumstances, I give my permission to ordain this young man.”
From listening to years of such stories and witnessing the kind of priestly life Fr. Wang lives, it is clear to me that he has spent a lifetime acknowledging God, discerning, and then taking next right steps while beaming faith, hope and love to anyone so blessed to be on the Journey with him. Faithful in myriad little things, just as the Scriptures exhort, Father has been entrusted with a major undertaking which continues to be mightily blessed by the Lord. This brings to mind how often we have read Charlie reechoing that amidst the sufferings in this Storm would emerge joy as we strive to remain faithful to the Lord via the core message promoted here.
Particularly amazing and hope-filled, amidst the troubling news reaching us from China, is that which God is doing through, with and in Fr. Wang as He works under the radar of China’s turmoil. Not in the least deterred by chaos and confusion, Emmanuel, seemingly born in obscurity on that Holy Night in Bethlehem, remains with us and in largely unknown, rather quiet ways, He is piercing the current darkness in China with His Light and His Infinite Redemption. Again, He chooses human instruments to be His tools of Mercy, to proclaim and build His Kingdom. As special as Fr. Wang’s life story is, he views himself as an ordinary man. And it is evident that this ordinary and holy man has spent a lifetime of listening to God and responding, repeatedly, with his fiat in ways small and large. God, then, used the many, varied and sometimes unusual pieces of Father’s life and merged them to become a foundation for his role in the evangelization work to which God has called us. In our “China Evangelization Project” as we have dubbed the work, my role, in human terms, is a sliver compared to Father’s, yet, I gratefully man my post, both in employing the gifts God has granted me so I may accomplish the tasks for which I am responsible and, also, in all the ways I help Father, when he needs it, to accomplish his work. Both of us are needed along with our colleagues on Chinese soil.
I imagine that all of us find ourselves in differing roles at times. That is, sometimes we must lead and, at other times, we are called to give assistance. When we are called to be helpers, I love to ponder the multi-faceted, essential role of the Parakletos, as described here: “Parakletos is translated in various ways: Counselor, Advocate, Helper. It means, literally, ‘one called alongside of’ to aid, exhort, and encourage. He is, remarked the Jesuit priest and poet, Gerard Manley Hopkins, one ‘who stirs up, urges forward, who calls on … what a trumpet is to a soldier, that a Paraclete is to the soul…’ (From: The Holy Spirit: Gift, Counselor, Advocate, Helper, at the Catholic World Report) Such a worthy and beautiful post to man is that of being a helper! I mention it here as it hearkens back to a theme which Charlie addressed at TNRS blog. What a pity when people collide in trying to be “the one” in charge, especially since each role is needed and no part fulfilled with faith, faithfulness and good cheer will be too small should things fall apart at the seams in this world as we are purified. “There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work.” (1 Cor 12:4-6)
I am thoroughly delighted to present to our community at ASOH this tribute to Fr. Wang who is erudite in his knowledge, wise, humble and expresses an expansive love which burns to bring souls to Jesus. Like St. John the Baptist before him, Fr. John the Baptist Wang is, today, a mouthpiece of truth, a voice crying out in the wilderness of these times: “Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near!” while Father’s very life proclaims: “He must increase and I must decrease.”
A Few Photos
My daughter’s children, who spend some time during the week with Father and me, call him “Lo Ye Ye” (Chinese for Great Grandpa) while he affectionately calls the girls “The Three Graces.” In this photo, Father sits with my three granddaughters as they put on their rabbit face poses.
In 1995, on my first trip to China, Fr. Wang’s dream and prayer of fifty years was fulfilled: to baptize his people. I became Godmother to all 64 from the clan who were baptized that day. The pic below shows Father’s nephew, Paul, Fr. Wang and me as we were visiting Qingdao, a beautiful city in the eastern part of Shandong Province. Paul is our point man on Chinese soil for the evangelization work and we visit weekly via Skype.
The following photo shows some of the Wang Clan who came to say farewell on our last day in China during our Evangelization Journey in 2015. One of the most overwhelming moments of each of my visits to China has become a tradition in our parting. See, this family of Wangs used to worry about who would care for their uncle as he grew old. Fr. Wang had written them, including photos of him with my family, as he explained that God had answered his prayer to be given a family in America. The mutual Wang-Hesse adoption was sealed. From the very first visit, there has come a time in the bidding of good-byes when every single person in that beautiful clan kowtows, in unison, in gratitude to me for taking care of their dear one. They go down on their knees with foreheads firmly pressed to the floor and most of us have tears streaming as they rise from the ground.
***For those who wish to contribute to the printing and distribution of the evagelization books which Fr. Wang has written, the donations are tax deductible. Simply make the check out to: Diocese of Helena PDF – China. But, please, don’t mail them directly to the Diocese. Instead, email me, Beckita, at : firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll send you the snail mail address for getting your contributions to Father first. Fr. Wang, the glorious idustrious one, is keeping a personal record of contributions and after recording a contribution, he sends the checks on to the Diocese where records are kept for tax deduction purposes.