Saturday, May 23, 2009

San Francisco Auxiliary Bishop Ignatius Wang retires at 75: a regular participant in the annual West Coast Walk for Life

“Right there with us in the trenches"

San Francisco Auxiliary Bishop Ignatius Wang, the first U.S. Catholic bishop of Chinese ancestry, has retired after turning 75 years old in February, when he submitted his resignation to the Holy Father.

Bishop Wang, a regular participant in the annual West Coast Walk for Life in San Francisco, was named an auxiliary bishop in December 2002 by Pope John Paul II. Archbishop Pietro Sambi, apostolic nuncio to the United States, announced on May 16 that Pope Benedict XVI had accepted Bishop Wang’s resignation.

Dolores Meehan and Eva Muntean, co-founders of Walk for Life West Coast, had high praise for Bishop Wang. "We wish him well, and we are so grateful for his pro-life leadership," said Meehan. "We really appreciate his presence at the Walk for Life West Coast. When you carry the banner at the front, as he has done, you face the full wrath of the abortion-rights activists. Our shepherd was right there with us in the trenches. We love him for it, and we are thankful to God for his courage and leadership."

"We are grateful to Bishop Wang for his prayers, words, and actions," said Muntean. "He has marched with us on four of the five Walks for Life, carrying our banner on more than one occasion. We wish him well on his retirement, and he in our prayers."

“On behalf of the entire archdiocese, I thank Bishop Wang for his decades of service to the local Church as a priest and bishop,” said San Francisco Archbishop George H. Niederauer in a statement issued by the archdiocese. “His dedication and service have been a blessing to the priests and people of the archdiocese and our many ethnic communities, particularly the Chinese Catholic community. Truly, Bishop Wang has been a hardworking and generous servant of the Church.”

“Ignatius Wang was born in Peking, China, in 1934,” said a news release from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. “He is fifth of eight children of a Catholic Chinese family. His parents were relatives of a Manchurian Emperor, the rulers of the last Chinese dynasty. He studied for the priesthood in Hong Kong, where he was ordained for the Prefecture of Kienow, China, July 4, 1959. He completed doctoral studies in Canon Law at the Pontifical University Propaganda Fide in Rome in 1962. Unable to return to China when he completed his studies, he went to the Diocese of St. George’s in Granada, where he was pastor and vicar general for 12 years.”

According to the statement issued by the San Francisco archdiocese, Bishop Wang first came to San Francisco in 1974 “to visit his widowed sister, who was suffering from cancer. When he realized she was dying, he decided to stay in San Francisco, and after her death in 1978 he took charge of her three children, then aged 18, 16 and 9.”

Bishop Wang’s first assignment in San Francisco was with the archdiocesan tribunal, said the statement issued by the archdiocese. He later served as pastor of St. Francis of Assisi parish, director of the Archdiocesan Pontifical Mission Society and Propagation of the Faith, and archdiocesan chancellor. “He was ordained a bishop January 30, 2003,” said the archdiocesan statement. “As bishop, he served as Episcopal Vicar for Religious and Vicar for the Promotion of Spiritual and Apostolic Life and Ethnic Ministries.”

The USSCB news release said Bishop Wang served the conference as a member of the Subcommittee on Asian and Pacific Islanders, and on the Board of Bishops for the American College, Louvain, Belgium.

“In retirement Bishop Wang will continue to live in San Francisco,” said the archdiocesan statement.