Father Francis X. Wang, S.J., 90, died April 23, 2011 in Regis Infirmary, Sacred Heart Jesuit Center, Los Gatos. He was a Jesuit for 70 years, an ordained priest for 59 years, and a prisoner for the faith for 33 years. He was a member of the China Province.
Francis was born in Shanghai on March 3, 1921. His mother was Buddhist, died when Francis was ten. His father, who became a Catholic convert, was known for building a school for the very poor in his home village. His father sent him to be educated by the Jesuits and, although being at first something of a rebel against religion, Francis received baptism in 1938. He entered the Jesuit novitiate at Zikawei on August 30, 1941. After pursuing philosophy studies in Beijing and theology studies in Shanghai, he was ordained a priest in Shanghai on April 16, 1952 by Ignatius Kung Pinmei, Archbishop of Shanghai. The Communists put Francis, along with the other Chinese Jesuits, under house arrest in the Zikawei theologate, where he completed his theology and tertianship.
He was able to do some apostolic work among students at St. Ignatius Church, Shanghai, before being arrested by the Communist authorities on May 20, 1954. Accused of being a counter-revolutionary and for working with the Legion of Mary, he was sentenced to twelve years imprisonment. One account indicates that he shared a 30' x 40' cell with 50-60 others. The prisoners slept side-by-side and could not turn over without disturbing all the others. In 1965 he was transferred from the prison in Shanghai to a labor camp in Qinghai Province. Upon completion of his sentence in 1966, he remained in forced labor at the Qinghai Reform Camp for refusing to denounce his Catholic faith. He worked at a factory in Xining producing tools and was able to perform clandestine ministry to the approximately 500 Catholics in the village in which he was living.
Re-arrested in November 1981 for his apostolic work, he was sentenced to six more years in the labor camp. The years in a harsh climate with poor rations took its toll on his health and he contracted tuberculosis. He was given a reduced workload and more time to rest, but not given any other care. Upon his release on November 18, 1987, he resumed his ministry.
In 1988, through the work of his sister, Mary, Francis was able to get a visa to come to the United States for health care. Before he left China, he made his long-delayed final profession in Shanghai on November 4, 1988. In a Mass in the home of Fr. George Wong's brother, Fr. Joseph Pittau received Francis' vows. He arrived in Portland, Oregon, via Hong Kong on November 24, 1988. A year later he relocated to Berkeley and took a refresher course in theology. In 1991, he took up residence at Sacred Heart Jesuit Center, Los Gatos, where he ministered to the Chinese community in the San Jose area for as long as his health permitted. In retirement he received a steady stream of visits from his former parishioners. May he rest in peace.
Thursday, April 28
St. Clare Parish
725 Washington Street
Santa Clara, CA 95050
Viewing and Rosary: 9:00 a.m.
Mass of Christian Burial: 10:00 a.m.
following Mass of Christian Burial
Santa Clara Mission Cemetery
490 Lincoln Street
Santa Clara, CA 95050
Reception at St. Clare Parish Hall following burial.
Notes of condolence may be sent to:
Mary Wang (sister)
100 Chalet Woods Circle
Campbell, CA 95008
In Christ's Peace,
Alfred Naucke, S.J.
To make a gift in memory of Fr. Francis X. Wang, S.J., please visit https://www.jesuitscalifornia.org/SSLPage.aspx?pid=912