Today is the day! On this day 49 years ago, April 26, 1967, the Ministry of Education officially notified ‘St. John’s and St. Mary’s Institute of Technology’ SJSMIT, (the original name of St. John’s University, SJU) that they could start to recruit students for their brand new 5-year junior college courses. The school dates its foundation from that day, and many of the original first intake of students are still active in the SJU Alumni Association today.
Bishop James C. L. Wong was the first Chinese Bishop of Taiwan (from 1965-70) and his vision was to establish a successor institution in Taiwan to St. John’s University, Shanghai, which had been established by the American Episcopal Church in the 1870’s, becoming a very famous and prestigious university. Unfortunately, under the PRC, it lost its identity in 1952 by being merged with state institutions. Bishop Wong devoted his 5 years as bishop and the final 5 years of his life to establishing SJSMIT as the successor institution, but sadly he died before he could see those first students graduate. On April 27, 1970, Bishop Wong died in Kaohsiung, aged 70. He was buried on the highest point of the SJSMIT campus, and Advent Church was built around him ~ his body rests under the altar of Advent Church. Our chaplain, Rev. Lennon Chang can remember when he first arrived as a student in the 4th year intake of SJSMIT, and although he never met Bishop Wong, he remembers Bishop Wong’s grave, and the church being built up around it….
Every year on April 26, St. John’s University celebrates its foundation with a special service in Advent Church. As the date falls only one day before the anniversary of the death of Bishop Wong (April 27), every year in the service we give thanks for Bishop Wong’s life and witness, and remember his contribution as founder of St. John’s University. This picture of Bishop Wong hangs in the main entrance of Advent Church.
So today in Advent Church, we gave thanks to God for 49 years as an institution and 46 years since the death of Bishop Wong. Our student fellowship sang and led the music, and readings and prayers were given. Those in the congregation included 54 students who this year are receiving special financial help from a university fund set up in memory of Bishop Wong. SJU President Chen Jean-Lien was there to speak and to make the presentation to one of those students.
In the last few months, Advent Church has been given a new gold cross, and today President Chen, Rev. Lennon Chang and others from SJU gathered for a photo with the cross. It was donated by an alumnus of St. John’s University, Shanghai, in thanksgiving and loving memory of the chapel of his alma mater, which was destroyed in the political turmoil that followed the Chinese Civil War in the 1950’s.
And so we give thanks for St. John’s University, for Bishop Wong and for his devotion and dedication, for the SJU alumni and their commitment to their old school, and for all our current students, especially those who attended the service today.
Humbly asking God’s continued blessing on us all and on the university during this annual week of celebration!