Raised as a Buddhist in Honolulu, young Father Francis Chun converted to Catholicism at 14 after attending Catholic schools. Now 79, Father Chun celebrates his 50th ordination anniversary this year.
After graduating from Chaminade Preparatory High School in Santa Cruz, Calif., Father Chun joined the Marianist Novitiate in 1952. He graduated from St. Mary’s College in Moraga, Calif., in 1956.
Father Chun finished his graduate work in Switzerland at the University of Fribourg with a licentiate in sacred theology. He was ordained there by the bishop of Lausanne-Fribourg in 1963.
He returned to the states and attended the University of Notre Dame for a year of graduate study in philosophy. In 1965, he began five years at Chaminade University in Honolulu teaching theology.
It was there that Chun reconnected with his “spiritual mother,” Florence Sau Kin. When Kin moved to Oregon fleeing the wrath of a husband unsupportive of her Catholic conversion, Father Chun followed to help her get settled.
He was incardinated into the Archdiocese of Portland in 1978.
Father Chun began teaching meditation, art and philosophy at La Salle High School in Milwaukie, where he stayed for 24 years, until Kin’s health began to decline. He retired from teaching to focus on helping the woman complete the book as a ghostwriter. He would eventually help her publish the story of her life, “Soul Within a Peach.”
He served as parochial vicar at St. John the Baptist Church in Milwaukie for two years before he retired.
Five decades of service haven’t slowed the priest down – he leads missions and retreats and celebrates daily morning Mass for the Franciscan sisters at the Our Lady of Peace Retreat House in Beaverton. He helps at the weekly contemplative Mass at St. Pius X Parish and also helps out at St. Mary Cathedral in Northwest Portland.
“It’s not really retirement, it’s a change of ministry,” Father Chun said.