Ignatius Chung Wang (pronounced Wong) was born in Beijing, China in 1934, the fifth of eight children in a family that had been Christian for twelve generations. He attended Catholic schools and began his studies to become a priest at the Regional Seminary in Hong Kong. He was ordained a priest in 1959 in Hong Kong at the Church of St. Francis of Assisi. After his ordination, Fr. Wang was unable to serve in China because of the Communist government. He was sent to Rome where he completed a doctorate in Canon Law in 1962. Unable to return to China, he took an assignment on the Caribbean Island of Grenada, where he served as a parish priest and Vicar General of the Diocese of St. George.
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In 1974, Fr. Wang moved to San Francisco to be near his widowed sister, who had small children and was in poor health. When his sister died of cancer, Bishop Wang became guardian of her children.
Bishop Wang began his service in the Archdiocese of San Francisco 1974. He was a Parochial Vicar in several parishes and in 1981 was named the first archdiocesan Director of the Office of Chinese Catholic Ministry. He initiated a ritual Blessing of Ancestors at the annual archdiocesan Chinese New Year’s Mass. In 1982, he was appointed pastor of St. Francis of Assisi Church in San Francisco, making Fr. Wang the first Chinese Catholic pastor in San Francisco.
Pope John Paul II named him a Prelate of Honor of His Holiness with the title of Monsignor in 1989. He also has served in the archdiocesan Tribunal and as Coordinator of the Chinese Apostolate.
On Dec. 13, 2002, Pope John Paul II appointed Monsignor Wang to the post of Auxiliary Bishop in the Archdiocese of San Francisco. Bishop Wang is the first Catholic Bishop of Chinese ancestry and of Asian background to be appointed in the United States.
He served as auxiliary bishop of San Francisco under Archbishop William J. Levada and Archbishop George Niederauer before retiring in 2009.
Chronology of Significant Events
Date of Birth: February 27, 1934, Beijing, China
Ordained a Priest: July 4, 1959 in the Church of St. Francis of Assisi, Hong Kong for the Prefecture of Kienow, China
Appointed a Prelate of Honor (Monsignor): 1989
Appointed Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of San Francisco and Titular Bishop of Sitipa: December 13, 2002
Ordained Bishop: January 30, 2003 by Archbishop William J. Levada
Retired: May 16, 2009