Having family members there to mark his five decades in the priesthood was especially significant for Msgr. Chaing. Fifty years ago, when he was ordained a priest in Manila, Philippines, his family members, unfortunately, were not able to attend.
"It is a great joy for me," Msgr. Chiang said standing with his family members following the Mass at Saint John Vianney. However, at the same time, he also thought of those relatives who were not present, especially his "dearest aunt," Sister Anna Tchang, a member of the Sisters of Saint Paul DeCharteres in Hong Kong, who died in 1996. "She was the most influential person to me," he said.
Another family member unable to attend the Mass was his own sister, Sister Mary Chiang, O.P., who celebrated her own 50th anniversary of religious service last year in Macau—an island located off the southeast coast of China, about 40 miles from Hong Kong, where she teaches at a school for 3,000 students.
Archbishop Emeritus Peter L. Gerety presided at Msgr. Chiang's joyful anniversary on March 15, which included many other retired priests who live at the southern Bergen County residence. The following day, Msgr. Chiang celebrated a Solemn Mass at Saint Joseph Parish, 5 Monroe St., which is located in New York City's Chinatown district. Msgr. Chiang maintained an office at this parish's school for five years, which became the home base for his work to counsel Chinese immigrants in the Big Apple.
Msgr. Chiang's path to the priesthood spans 50 years and thousands of miles. He was born in Fuzhou City, China, on Jan. 30, 1931. At the age of 18 he left his hometown in mainland China and went to Hong Kong, where he joined the Dominican Order. Eventually he was sent him to Manila to complete his theological studies.
Following his ordination in Manila, he relocated in Kaohsiung City, Taiwan 1960 where he taught English at Saint Dominic High School for three years. While in Kaohsiung City he also taught as a professor of Catholic Religion History at Saint Joseph's Seminary until 1967. That year he traveled to the United States and, in 1970, earned a master's degree in the Department of Modern Language at Catholic University of America, Washington D.C.
Highlights on Msgr. Chiang's resume include working as the coordinator for the archdiocesan Chinese Catholic Apostolate from 1979 to 1990. Prior to that he served for three years as the vicar general for the Chinese Dominican Order in Taiwan. He was the representative of the Holy See to North American for the Chinese Apostolate (1985-88) and is the founder of the Sino- American Club of New Jersey.
Msgr. Chiang was the parochial vicar at Holy Rosary Parish, Jersey City, for 20 years (1970-90). He then served as pastor for the parish for five years before retiring on July 1, 2003.
Over the years, during his travels throughout Asia and North America, Msgr. Chiang has communicated his ministry to the faithful in English, Spanish, Italian, Latin as well as five Chinese dialects.
As he reflected on his 50 years in the priesthood, he shared some thoughts in a written statement. He offered thanks to God that, after two cancers and other illnesses, he was able to celebrate his golden jubilee Mass. "Let us do our best in the days ahead," he wrote. "Let us pray that our future will be a better world, so that all of us can live in safety, joy, happiness and peace."