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Father Benedict Chang, 84 – served at Sts. Peter and Paul

June 19, 2015

Father Benedict Chang died June 1 of pneumonia following several years of declining health. He was 84 years old and had been ordained to the priesthood for 51 years.

Born in Kun-Ming in the Yunnan Province of Southwest China, he was the youngest of four children in a family that had been Catholic for four generations.

After World War II, he entered the minor seminary in Macao of the Salesians of Don Bosco undertaking his novitiate and philosophy studies in Hong Kong, and completing his theological studies in Italy. Ordained to the priesthood in Rome on April 6, 1963, he then ministered in Hong Kong for the next 14 years, teaching at the minor seminary and in high schools.

As a Salesian, Father Chang came to San Francisco in 1977 to take up an assignment at Sts. Peter and Paul Church where he served the growing population of Chinese immigrants. Father Chang celebrated Mass in Mandarin, and when necessary, in Cantonese, Italian and occasionally, in English. In 1983 he asked for a diocesan assignment, and with permission of his provincial, was appointed as an associate pastor at Star of the Sea Church in San Francisco, under the direction of the now late Msgr. Cornelius Burns. An important focus of his early ministry was a monthly Chinese Newsletter, first published in January 1980. By 1982, the newsletter was receiving positive recognition from the Association of Chinese Clergy in North America and would eventually be distributed as far away as the East Coast and Canada.

Father Chang was widely known for his good sense of humor and sound theology, and approached his ministry with enthusiasm, joy and deep faith. He will be remembered for his kindness, patience, gentleness and friendly manner. As a confessor, he was appreciated for the inspiring and wise words he offered to so many, despite their different ethnic backgrounds. Father Chang was incardinated into the Archdiocese of San Francisco on Dec. 10, 1987, and continued to serve as a parochial vicar at Star of the Sea Parish until his retirement in 2007. He remained in retirement at the parish until 2012 when he moved to Peninsula del Rey in Daly City.

Father Chang is survived by his sister, Sister Elizabeth, of the Sisters of St. Paul of Chartres in Taiwan.

Remembrances may be made to the Priests’ Retirement Fund, One Peter Yorke Way, San Francisco 94109.

A funeral Mass was celebrated June 12, at Star of the Sea Church.

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