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!