Tag Archives: SJU Chaplaincy

Wedding Blessings and Celebrations for our beloved Setu and Jacob!

Ah, THE DAY finally arrived! YES!

After years and years of waiting ~ they’ve FINALLY made it down the aisle, tied the knot, had the obligatory kiss AND the wedding blessing!  CONGRATULATIONS!

Advent Church on Saturday February 10 at 2:00 pm was THE place to be. It may have been pouring with rain and cold, cold, cold outside, but inside, it was a buzz of activity and filled with warmth! Excitement was in the air, but, also, well, let’s face it, a little concern about whether it was all actually going to happen as planned, or yes, even if at all! So when we all got to the church, and actually saw bride AND groom BOTH there, both looking Ready with a capital ‘R’, well, what a great relief! Smiles all around. And y’know what? Everything went off without a hitch. Thanks be to God! The bridegroom smiled all afternoon. He even smiled in my direction. At my camera. So did the bride, but, well, we knew she would smile! The bride’s months of careful planning and organization, plus the hard work and support of a huge team of helpers all paid off. And what a great day it was!

To understand our smiles of relief and amazement, you just have to understand a little about the very lovely bride and her very handsome groom. Setu works with our Chaplaincy Team at St. John’s University (SJU). We’ve been based in the same office now for about the last 7 years. We even went together to India this time last year. She has the most wonderful, fruitful and inspiring ministry with our students, particularly those in our SJU Student Fellowship. That’s how come so many SJU Student Fellowship alumni came back to participate on Saturday, joining with current Student Fellowship members in singing or playing instruments or acting as ushers, or whatever – all there to ensure everything ran smoothly.

In our life in the SJU Chaplaincy, Setu also provides us with plenty of laughs on a daily basis. She doesn’t mean to, of course, but she does! She’s creative, idealistic, gifted in multiple languages, compassionate, kind, and is always searching for ways to make the world a better place – whether it’s some words of encouragement for our students on facebook, or through Bible Studies, meetings, organizing activities, outreach ~ she’s on the go from morning to night. She runs, yes RUNS around the office. It’s a small office, there’s hardly no room to swing a cat, yet Setu, on the move, manages to run! (She even ran on Saturday…. round to the front of the church!)

And guess what, in the process of all this, she totally forgets to eat. Breakfast lies unopened, or half eaten on her desk until lunchtime. Her lunch is still being eaten, one noodle at a time, throughout the afternoon. Actually she has much improved over the years, but hey, if a student asks Setu about the deeper meaning of life and the world and the universe, her face lights up, she stops running, and wow, before you know it, a whole hour is gone in deep and meaningful discussion.

And guess what too, in this respect, Jacob is very similar. While other couples might spend hours discussing how to decorate the house, what to buy at the supermarket, where to go on holiday etc etc; no, not these two. They thrive, positively thrive on discussing all things spiritual, philosophical, theological, ethical, moral, eschatological and, of course, meaningful.

So, not surprisingly, when it comes to arranging something as practical and down to earth as a wedding, well, it has taken rather a long time. They’ve kind of been ‘together-but-not-really-together’ for what seems like a century, and ‘married-but-not-really-married’ for the last five years. So, as our rector, Rev. Lennon Y. R. Chang explained during his sermon on Saturday, their wedding celebrations were more of a marriage blessing, which of course in this situation is just as meaningful and moving.

Setu’s parents both died while she was at university in Taipei, and partly through that experience, she became a Christian and found much support and friendship in their Student Fellowship. She discovered the Anglican / Episcopal Church when she moved out to the countryside, not far from Advent Church, looking for a quiet place to write up her thesis for her MA in Japanese (on Shūsaku Endō, author of ‘Silence’), and has been here ever since. She LOVES the Episcopal liturgy and traditions, the spirituality and quiet reflection of monastic orders, and every year disappears off for a few days of silent retreat in a RC Retreat House. So, in planning her wedding, she invited her good friend, Fr. Jacques Duraud (杜樂仁), originally from France, now at the Jesuit Community at Fu-Jen RC University, Taipei, to walk her down the aisle. In his speech, he said that he accepted the role as an elder brother in the Christian faith. And he looked so natural!

And the bridegroom, Jacob? He’s the man to talk to if you want a deep and profound discussion. In the days when we used to have monthly English Bible Studies at Advent Church, he would be the one to ask the most very deepest and most very profoundest questions, all the result of much contemplation and reflection prior to the Bible Study. In more recent years, since he got busy running his own design company, he keeps very unconventional hours, working very late into the night and sleeping very late into the day, and rarely gets to come to Advent Church, and if he does, well, it’s quite a bit later than everyone else. And because he usually wears a face mask, Taiwan-style, he appears even more elusive and mysterious! Kind of like James Bond 007, we all want to know what he’s thinking, what makes him the man he is! In the event, we needn’t have worried about what would happen on Saturday. Jacob rose wonderfully to the occasion, and did Setu (and all of us!) proud. He smiled all day long, graciously cooperated for all photos and charmed us all with his elegance and grace. Thank you to Jacob!

The wedding blessing service was led by Rev. Lennon Y. R. Chang, assisted by our chaplain, Rev. Wu Hsing-Hsiang, with songs from our Student Fellowship choir, Advent Church choir, and supported by our seminarian Stoney on the organ and piano, plus former and current students all on hand to help as necessary. We even had live streaming for those unable to attend…

After the blessing of the couple, they bowed to the congregation in thanks – then we had THE KISS!

This was all followed by Holy Communion….

After the final blessing, we had the procession out of the church of bride and groom…

And the 2 best men and 2 best bridesmaids…

And so to the church centre next door, where we had a buffet-style reception (I found some interesting delicacies ~ rolls of bacon with a strawberry in the middle!)…

Jacob’s great friend is Rev. Joseph Ho, in charge of St. Mark’s Church, Pingtung ~ Joseph couldn’t be with us on Saturday, but his lovely wife and gorgeous daughter and mother-in-law were all there, so we had special photos for Joseph!

The entertainment at the reception was provided by different groups of students and friends. Some danced, others sang, some had even written their own songs for the occasion. One group who were not able to attend were our Student Fellowship members from Malaysia who have all gone home for Chinese New Year. They had each recorded a short video of their greetings which was shown at the reception, so lovely.

And the other group who must be mentioned are Machiko, Junko and Megumi, who came especially from Osaka, Japan to attend the celebrations. Last summer they were here for our joint youth outreach (with our companion diocese of Osaka), organized by Rev. Lennon Chang, with much support given by Setu. I had the chance to take the 3 of them around Taipei on Friday, including a great visit to drink tea with Bishop Lai, and later accompanied them to Taiwan’s most famous dumpling restaurant, Din Tai Feng, kindly hosted by Rev. Keith Lee, from Good Shepherd Church. So, yes, a very warm welcome to them!

After the food, speeches and entertainment, we had group photos, first the family…

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And those belonging to Advent Church!

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By then it was already 5:30 pm and I had to leave to get to St. James’ Church, Taichung, in time for preaching at the English service the next day, so I had to leave before the photos were finished. Actually I had the chance of a lift to the MRT Station, and as it was pouring with rain and I had tons of luggage, I made the most of the opportunity, and got to Taichung by 9:00 pm. Since then, I’ve been sorting out the 604 photos that I took on Saturday afternoon. Ha ha, you’ll be glad to know that I am not posting all 604 here, just a few!

Thanks be to God! It was a wonderful occasion! We are also grateful that Setu and Jacob had this opportunity to stand together in Advent Church to receive God’s blessing, and that of the church and university community. Thank you to all those who organized, helped, supported, and made sure everything went so well. Yulin and Ro-Han deserve our special thanks, plus the church clergy and staff, church members and all who came to show their support.

We all love Setu and Jacob so much, and wish them all the best for their future together. Please pray for them, and give thanks to Almighty God!

Advent & Christmas 2017 @ St. John’s University (SJU) & Advent Church, Taiwan

SJU is definitely a happening kind of place during Advent and Christmas!  Taiwan doesn’t have any holidays for Christmas, so apart from weekends, the students are here in classes all over Christmas, the office staff are working all over Christmas, the professors are teaching all over Christmas (and this year our engineering faculty / college had an OFSTED-style inspection starting on December 25!) so we just get on and make the most of it!

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During Advent, every department and main office in St. John’s University has an Advent wreath on display, and every week the St. John’s University Chaplaincy Team and student fellowship walk around the university campus visiting all those offices in turn, starting with President Ay’s office.

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We invite one of the staff of each office to light the Advent candle(s) and read a Bible verse, we sing a carol or say a prayer, share greetings, and move on to the next office.  It takes 3-4 hours to complete the circuit.  One day we also included our new class of Vietnamese students, who gathered in a large group and joined in…

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As there’s about 30 offices on the campus and we visit each office 4 times over the course of Advent, hey that’s quite a few candles being lit and prayers being offered!

Our students and church members have been busy for weeks preparing a Christmas drama, this year it actually included the Bible story of Christmas.  We had 2 teams rehearsing, one of students and one of church members – with some overlap; during Advent, we took the performance around the community to different places.  The students performed the drama during their evangelistic outreach event early in December, and on Saturday December 16, the church members performed the drama for our children’s Christmas party ~ it was fast-moving and thrilling to watch!

At Advent Church, we have said thank you and goodbye to Rev. Michael T. H. Liu, who after about 5 years of monthly preaching at Advent Church is finally retiring, at nearly 80 years old.  This was his last Sunday with us on December 10 – so we all gathered for a group photo.  Thank you Michael!

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My monthly visits to Laomei Elementary School (an extension of Advent Church ministry) also continued through December, with our theme of Christmas trees.  Ah, the kids are so much fun – these are the younger ones!

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Our combined SJU and Advent Church Christmas Charity Bazaar is held every year on the Wednesday before Christmas.  This year it was December 20, and everyone was busy for weeks beforehand getting ready.  This year’s charity is Taiwan Xi En 希恩之家  in Kaohsiung, which was founded originally to provide a way of helping mothers who might otherwise decide to have an abortion, and the charity’s home helps take care of babies and small children up to the age of 2 years old.  Our aim was to raise NT$ 250,000 and it looks like we might exceed that, thanks be to God!  Most of the money is actually raised from direct donations, but the bazaar gives the students a chance to do their bit to help, giving of their time and buying their lunch that day at the bazaar.  The day of the actual bazaar was dry weather – for the first time for many years!  Not only that, but the weather continued dry and even sunny throughout the whole Christmas weekend.  Possibly a first – YES!

The following day, Thursday December 21 was the Christmas carol-singing and final Advent walkabout, lighting all the 5 candles, and also visiting the student dormitories and our local neighbours.  We had also visited Xian-Xiao (our neighbouring junior-high school branch) a few days earlier for carol singing and wishing everyone a Merry Christmas.

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Then on Friday evening, our church members joined with the student fellowship and we extended our carol singing to cover the whole area from Tamsui up to Sanzhi. I joined the group that was singing outside the new ramen noodle shop run by our church members in northern Tamsui….

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And then all the different carol-singing groups met up to visit SJU President Ay’s home here in his university accommodation.  We had such a warm welcome!

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On Christmas Eve, we held our evening service at 7:30 pm, starting in candlelight, and wonderfully supported by our choir, who as always, sang beautifully.

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We had 2 baptisms that evening, Mr. Huang, brother of one of our former students who was baptized himself here a few years ago, and the other was our good friend, Jasmine Yu, in charge of Xian-Xiao School….

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Jasmine invited 12 members of her family to come and witness this momentous event.  These were virtually all people I know from the mountain-climbing trips we have done together over the years.  Apart from one of her cousins who is a Christian, Jasmine is the first Christian in her family, and yet they all came along to support her.  What a great testimony, and praise God!  Please pray for them all!

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Christmas Day, being a Monday, was a normal work and school day here in Taiwan.  We had a short service on Christmas Day, and then we had another one today, December 27, for St. John’s Day – patron saint of SJU…

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And last night, December 26, we had a wonderful Christmas Party for my combined community English class groups.  Normally I have 2 adult English groups, one meeting on Monday afternoons, and the other (a new class this term) on Tuesday evenings.  Actually the Monday afternoon group are mainly church members, and they took on the responsibility of running the party for the Tuesday evening group, who are mostly not.  Everyone brought food, wore red and we all had a great time. Ah, I love red!

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And just check out the fruit animals, made by Ms. Cho, one of the students!

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We danced, ate, played Bingo, musical chairs and musical animal statues and it was all so funny, I could hardly take photos for laughing so much. Spot the penguins. And the lions.  And plenty of other animals.  Just my kinda party!

SJU has a brand new set of LED lights along our main campus boulevard, strings of blue and white lights hanging from all the banyan trees, and looking very splendid.  The students are so impressed they are all taking and posting photos of themselves in the lights.  This was last night, the grand opening was tonight!

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Non-stop all month, and more to come lol.  For now though, this is it.  Christmas is well and truly upon us!

Belated Christmas greetings to you all!

Updated on New Year’s Eve, December 31, 2017:

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This morning in Advent Church we celebrated the First Sunday of Christmas.  As it comes only days after St. John’s Day on December 27, so our SJU student fellowship were responsible for leading the worship, doing the readings, the notices, collection etc.  They all did a great job!

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We also welcomed Bishop David J. H. Lai for a confirmation service…..

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Seven people were confirmed ~ ranging in age from 17 to 90!

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Congratulations to everyone ~ and what a great way to end 2017!

Wishing you all a Happy New Year 2018 ~ and I’m off to write my new year resolutions!

St. John’s University Coming of Age Ceremony (成年禮) 2017!

Every year in mid-November, St. John’s University holds a Coming of Age Ceremony (成年禮) for all of our first-year university students ~ plus SJU President Ay, faculty, alumni, tutors and staff.  The event is organized by the St. John’s University Chaplaincy, and takes weeks of preparation for our chaplaincy staff and the student fellowship team ~ but it’s all worth it, and every year we thank God for another successful event!  It’s also got high praise from the Ministry of Education too.

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And it all happened yesterday afternoon!

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The students (and tutors) this year all had special red SJU ties, emblazoned with SJU logos and words, and with matching white shirts (or black for some), everyone looked very smart.  Took quite some effort to get those ties on the right way, but everyone helped out their friends and in the end, they all looked great!  Many parents came too, and were warmly thanked and presented with gifts of potted plants, as were the class tutors.  We had speeches and music, a wine toast, formal bows, prayers and a blessing from Rev. Lennon Y. R. Chang.  All this to mark the students’ arrival in the big wide world of adulthood, a world of maturity and responsibility.  Ah yes, a great occasion!

But, this year there were only 350 or so students at the Coming of Age Ceremony.  Looking back on these blog posts marking the same event over the years – they go back to 2012, when there were 1,500 students at the ceremony, and the hall was packed out.  In those 5 years, student enrollment has gone down by 200-300 each year – last year there were about 800 at the ceremony.  It is seriously worrying.  And it’s also a major problem affecting all of Taiwan.  A drastic fall in the birth rate (and hardly any immigration) is impacting all schools and colleges, from primary schools upwards. At university level, there are way too many universities and nowhere near enough students to go round, so the only way to keep the numbers up is to reduce standards – and for small private universities like ours, the problem is particularly bad.  Yes, these days we have lots of foreign students and lots of new and innovative programme to attract students (and keep them), but still, they are not enough to keep up with the falling numbers of Taiwan students.  Next year is a ‘dragon year’ of students coming through (there’s a high birth rate every dragon year!) plus we have the junior college students who, next year, for the first time, will be eligible to join in the Coming of Age Ceremony.  So we look forward to an upward rise in 2018!

So please keep us in your prayers and thoughts as St. John’s University works hard to resolve this problem ~ and face the challenges ahead!

PS The university’s own article (in Chinese) about yesterday’s event is here

Advent Church Summer Camp 2017 降臨堂兒童喜樂營 ‘YES! You’re Extra-Special!’

And what a camp it was!  Two whole days of fun, laughter, games, water fights, action songs, drama, handicrafts, prayers and much more!

The theme was ‘You’re Extra-Special’ – the initials of which happen to spell ‘YES!’… and that logo was on our dark blue T-shirts too, the YES is written into the shape of Advent Church… here’s some of us in the T-shirts!

The summer camp happens every year at this time, with a large group of lovely students from our SJU Student Fellowship group who spend 2-3 days in training and preparation, followed by the actual camp, open to children aged from about 4-12. Once the children are too old to attend, then they can come along as helpers and attend the training too.  So this year we had over 30 student leaders, and 55-60 children.  The kids come from all over the local area, and some are children or relatives of our SJU faculty and staff and live further away.  Two very small children had come from Yilan with their aunt, who is our school nurse ~ she said it was their first time away from their parents, and several had even come back from overseas to visit grandparents, so it was all quite international.  Here we all are!

Until last year, the summer camp was held in Advent Church (left), but since we now have a wonderful new church centre (right), we used that ~ and just look at the weather!

The overall camp leader and organizer was our just-graduated and former chair of the student fellowship, who we call Pi-pi ~ and he did a really great job.  He is multi-talented in music (here he is on the right) and all things related to talking (ha ha!) ~ and has tons of personality, always making everyone laugh, as well as good at organizing everyone.  We’ll miss him now he’s graduated!

He was ably assisted by Hong-Wen, one of our former students, and both were under the general watchful eye of Yu-Ru, our person in charge of all the outreach and social services of Advent Church, who also happens to be married to our chaplain, Rev. Wu Shing-Shiang.  And all of the summer camp comes under Rev. Lennon Y. R. Chang, our rector.  The ladies of the church (plus a few men!) had an amazing ministry in providing breakfasts and dinners for the whole 5 days – they smiled and laughed continually throughout. All helpers and students were invited to a celebration thanksgiving banquet on Tuesday evening after the children had gone home.  Here’s some of the lovely ladies!

Here’s our student leaders ~ taken after singing in the Advent Church service on Sunday – in the summer camp T-shirts…. they’re all set for the off!

We had some special visitors too!  Number one VIP visitor gave us a huge and very wonderful surprise ~ Sheerah from West Malaysia!  In 2010, she and a group from the Diocese of West Malaysia (DWM) came to Advent Church to lead some training on ‘Kid’s Games’, an international program using sports and games to teach children spiritual truths and character education based around the Bible.  Sheerah oversees this program in DWM, and she happened to be in Taiwan this past week, so she came along for one afternoon.  Amazing!  She is full of life and energy and ideas of what we could do together in the future too!  Here she is….. with Rev. Lennon Chang (left) and Rev. Wu and Shu-Jing (right)….

When the DWM group came in 2010, we did not yet have any students from Malaysia, now we have lots.  In fact we had 6 students helping on the summer camp who come from Malaysia, and one had even attended Kid’s Games in her own home town, Ipoh, which happens to be Sheerah’s hometown too ~ ah, it’s a small world!  And they were all so happy to pose in a photo together!

Next set of VIP visitors were from Lao-Mei Village, Taiwan’s northern tip, and one of my favourite places, since I go to the school for English classes sometimes.  Ms. Cheng (back row, left of Rev. Lennon Chang) brought a group of very happy children, and we were delighted to see them ~ with Yu-Ru too (right)!

And so ~ a selection of randomly arranged photos of the summer camp!  We had 2 or 3 us taking photos, so the photo numbers are all mixed up.  Thousands of photos in total.  290 on our church facebook page, and you’ll be glad to know, less than 60 here!  But all mixed up just adds to the fun!

Thanks to everyone for all their hard work, and especially to Almighty God for his many blessings!

PS We had 2 sets of identical twins on the summer camp, each set dressed alike, and all girls ~ taking photos is even more of a challenge than usual, hope we got them all in ha ha!

Happy Wedding Day Mr. You Bo-Min 游博閔弟兄 and Ms. Hsu Ying-Ping 徐穎蘋姊妹!

A beautifully sunny day at Advent Church for the wedding of our former student, Mr. You Bo-Min 游博閔 and his lovely wife, Ms. Hsu Ying-Ping 徐穎蘋 ~ congratulations to them both ~ and their families!  Here they for the group photo, titled ‘The Kiss’!

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Actually, Bo-Min has always been known to us as A-Bu-La 阿不辣, a good nickname for a fun guy, who loves to act and dress up and do imitations of people and pull faces and make everyone laugh – all the time, that how I remember him!  He’s now 28, and for the 4 years that he was a student here at St. John’s University, he kept us all well entertained, ah how we loved him! He was baptized here in Advent Church and became the leader of our student fellowship, and has continued on as a Christian. His wife Ying-Ping is a Christian too ~ they’re at the Torch Church at Taipei Main Station.

In the summer of 2009, Bo-Min was part of a student fellowship mission trip to Malaysia, led by our rector and chaplain, Rev. Lennon Y. R. Chang. Today a large group of about 30 former student fellowship members and those who went to Malaysia joined together to sing and play for the wedding.  Very meaningful!  They are such a great group, and today they helped with all the organizing and arranging too….

While Bo-Min was here at the university, we also did a lot of outreach in LaoMei, my favorite village on the northern tip of Taiwan, and 2 of the girls we got to know there came today. At the time, they were 12 years old, and they’re now 20!  Here they are with Hannah, our rector’s wife….

And so to the wedding ~ 9:00 am start!

Congratulations to Bo-Min and Ying-Ping, and best wishes and God’s blessings for their future together!

PS: I’ve been to lots of weddings at Advent Church and I think this is the first ever where we’ve had a whole group photo on the church steps with ‘The Kiss’!

St. John’s University Graduation 2017!

Yes, this past week has been the final week for our final year students ~ congratulations to them all!

Last Thursday night, our student fellowship had a big farewell event for the 7 student fellowship members who are graduating.  We all wore masks!  Of the 7 students, 3 of the boys are student fellowship leaders, Pi-pi is last year’s chairperson, and En-Zhe and Bin-Huan also assist in the leadership ~ and all 3 are very much part of the praise and worship team.  Their gift to the student fellowship was to publish a praise and worship book of favorite songs – some of which they had written themselves.  Here’s the 7, with the chaplaincy team…. see they are all very smartly dressed, the boys in suits!

And here is everyone, with and without masks!

Then yesterday was the actual graduation ceremony.  The St. John’s University 50th anniversary too.  Flowers and graduation gifts were on sale from early morning….

Here’s our team getting ready……

Our current student fellowship leader, Vincy carried the SJU banner at the head of the procession into the auditorium, and the 3 boys carried the cross and the candles.  Bishop Lai came too.

SJU President Peter Herchang Ay led the faculty procession. It is his first graduation ceremony as president.

It was hot.  Very hot.  The AC broke down.   But hey, everyone was happy!

Afterwards, the student fellowship all gathered in Advent Church for photos….

This is not an easy photo to take!  This is me (and En-Zhe’s father) taking the photo ha ha!

And this one was even more of a difficult angle!

Ah, it was a great day!  So so so many many congratulations to all our students on their graduation – and best wishes for the future!

50th Anniversary Celebrations @ St. John’s University, Taiwan 聖約翰科技大學50週年校慶!

An amazing week of 50th anniversary celebrations ~ and many many congratulations to St. John’s University.  This is the grand blowing out of the candles and cutting of the cake!

But first a bit of history….

‘St. John’s University, Taiwan (SJU) is the successor institution of the former St. John’s University and St. Mary’s Hall in Shanghai, two well-known education institutions founded in 1879 and 1881 respectively, by Bishop S. I. Joseph Schereschewsky of the American Episcopal Church.  St. John’s University, Taiwan was founded in 1967, initially as a five-year Junior College of Industry named in Chinese after its location, Hsin-pu (新埔), and in English known as St. John’s & St. Mary’s Institute of Technology (SJSMIT).  In 2005, it was upgraded to university status and became known as St. John’s University.  Its foundation was in large part due to the untiring effort and vision of Rt. Rev. James C. L. Wong, Bishop of Taiwan 1965-70.  The university chapel, ‘The Bishop James Wong Memorial Chapel’, also known as Advent Church, is located on the campus, and Bishop James Wong is buried under the altar. St. John’s University is an active member of CUAC (Colleges and Universities of the Anglican Communion) and the only such Anglican / Episcopal university in Taiwan; in fact it is unique in being the only Anglican / Episcopal Chinese-medium university in the world’.

On April 26, 1967, the Ministry of Education officially notified SJSMIT that they could start to recruit students for their 5-year junior college courses. The school dates its foundation from that day. Bishop Wong’s death on April 27, 1970 means that the last week of April is always a special week of celebration, remembrance and thanksgiving.

So we warmly welcomed a group of very sprightly and energetic alumni, all aged over 85, from the original St. John’s University, Shanghai, and the first group of alumni from SJSMIT, now mostly aged about 65, and also a reunion for those SJSMIT alumni who graduated 30 years ago this year.   We welcomed representatives from our sister schools around the world too, many from Mainland China and Hong Kong.  It was a special honour for us to welcome the Archbishop of Hong Kong, Paul Kwong (鄺保羅) who is also currently the chair of the Anglican Consultative Council, and Rev. Canon Edmund Der 謝博文法政牧師 and his wife Margaret, Mrs. Chee Ming Lee. Rev. Der was  SJSMIT Vice-President from 1972-76.  They are originally from Hong Kong, and their son, Rev. Matthias Der is dean of St. John’s Cathedral, Hong Kong.  They have so many friends in Taiwan!  Here they are, Archbishop Paul Kwong, Rev. and Mrs. Der seated, with 3 of their (and our) good friends, including Mrs. Chao and Ms. Liang…

The 50th anniversary celebration week was launched on Tuesday April 24 with a lecture by former President of Taiwan, Ma Ying-Jeou, who started his visit by planting a cherry tree at the SJU main entrance….

On Wednesday, a special Thanksgiving Service was held in Advent Church, in thanksgiving for the SJU 50th anniversary, and for the life and dedication of our founder, Bishop James Wong.  The service is an annual event, but this year was extra-special as it was our 50th anniversary.  Bishop Lai unfortunately was unable to come, so he was represented by Mr. Richard Hu, chair of the diocesan standing committee.  We invited clergy from northern Taiwan to attend ~ Rev. Peter Chen and Rev. Elizabeth Wei, Rev. Philip Lin and his wife, and Rev. Lily Chang all came; as well as students who receive scholarships given in Bishop Wong’s memory, plus some members of Advent Church, faculty and staff. Our student fellowship choir sang and helped in the service….

After the service, in the Advent Church Center, our rector, Rev. Lennon Y. R. Chang hosted the grand opening of a special 50th anniversary art exhibition ~ paintings and calligraphy of his Fu-Jen University classmate in the maths department, Ms. Tseng Hsiang-Yun (曾祥雲).  She came with her husband and many friends and classmates for the service and opening. Her paintings are beautiful, in traditional Chinese style, so colorful and exquisite, and people were particularly enthusing about her calligraphy skills.  Lennon had also invited our friends from neighboring Xian-Xiao Junior-High School to come too ~ a big welcome! Here they are with Ms. Tseng and SJU President Ai.

It was followed by lunch for all ~ I couldn’t resist taking photos of all the delicious food!

And a farewell photo of our northern clergy and friends as they left for home…

On Wednesday afternoon, SJU held the annual fun run, 3.5 km – around by the sea.  A group of about 20 of us from the chaplaincy and student fellowship entered.  The heavens opened just as we were about to start, so we delayed about 20 minutes and then started the run. But half way round, the rain came down again and we were all well and truly soaked through.  Ah, but it was great fun!  This is the ‘before’ ~ with SJU President Ai…

And ‘after’ ~ all soaking wet, but still smiling!

And the ‘in-between’….

The rain continued all day Thursday, but suddenly Friday dawned bright and sunny.  It was beautiful!  All classes were cancelled for this special day ~ an all-day Sports Day to celebrate the SJU 50th anniversary.  The grand opening started with a lion dance performance from 2 local elementary schools, and then followed by processions of representatives from every university department ~ and the SJU flag presentation.

The faculty and staff sports events were held in the morning, the students in the afternoon. We entered in the dragon boat race and the 11-legged race (yep, that’s 10 people in a long line, legs all tied together!)  We came mostly last in every race ha ha!  Next time, we’ll know better – for an 11-legged race, make sure everyone is more or less the same height!

It was hot and sunny, and oh such a great day!

And so to Saturday, and the main official SJU celebrations.  What amazing weather!  Early morning there was a fun run for the local community, the same route as on Wednesday, but this time under blue skies and sun.  We didn’t enter that one, we were still recovering from the run in the rain a few days earlier!  The VIP visitors, all the alumni from St. John’s University, Shanghai and SJSMIT, plus the Deputy Mayor of New Taipei City, Mr. Hou You-Yi (侯友宜) and local community leaders, Archbishop Kwong, Rev. Edmund Der and his wife, Rev. Charles C. T. Chen and his wife, former SJU president Chen Jean-Lien, past and present members of the SJU board of Trustees, including former dean of St. John’s Cathedral, Rev Samuel Y. C. Lin and so many more, all gathered on the campus ready to start the main celebration event at 11:00 am.

Former President of Taiwan, Ma Ying-Jeou also came, and he was greeted by our SJU President Ai on arrival, who introduced him to his research expertise ~ solar-powered cars, which had been brought along for the occasion from the Kaohsiung University of Applied Sciences.   They are quite amazing!  Then followed the formal proceedings and the grand cutting of the birthday cake, and lunch. Outside the students were enjoying lots of stalls and food and fun and music.

The VIP visitors enjoyed a formal banquet on Saturday evening at the Grand Hotel, Taipei, but for us, the final event was our student fellowship serving in the Sunday morning service at Advent Church.  For some it was their first time to take part in a church service. They were so nervous, but so willing to help, and yes, did a great job!

Thanks be to God for such wonderful weather over this past weekend as we celebrated the 50th anniversary of St. John’s University ~ YES, it made all the difference!

Thanks for everyone who planned, orchestrated and joined in the celebrations from far and wide, including our visitors in this photo – sent to me by Bishop Lai, of him with Archbishop Kwong and President Ma.

And finally, in deep gratitude and thanksgiving to Almighty God for the past 50 years ~ and we pray for God’s guidance and blessing on the next 50 years too!