Congratulatory Message on the 100th Birthday of Protopresbyter Elias Wen
(on the 125th anniversary of his birth)
From the Editors: November 19 marks the 125th birthday of Protopresbyter Elias Wen, who reposed in San Francisco in 2007. Below is a greeting read to him by his son, Peter Wen, on his 100th birthday, which was ceremoniously celebrated in the San Francisco cathedral in 1996.
On behalf of Fr Elias and our entire Wen family I’d like to express our genuine appreciation to our dear Archbishop Anthony, all the clergy, friends and those present to share with us a rare event—the 100th birthday of our Father Elias!
I would especially like to thank the cathedral’s Warden, Vitaly Borisovich Troyan, who contributed a great deal of time and effort to help my brother Mikhail Ilyich organize this event.
We gather in this hall to mark an unusual event in our lives, the celebration of the 100th birthday of Protopresbyter Elias Wen, who devoted his entire life to the Orthodox Church. When he was 9 years old, he adopted Orthodox Christianity and began to study in the school and seminary of the Russian Ecclesiastical Mission in Peking.
In 1918, he graduated seminary and soon married. Two years later he was appointed to Shanghai as a reader and choir director for Epiphany Church. Serving there for 4 years, he was ordained to the diaconate and served at the Mission. After 7 years of service, he was ordained to the priesthood and sent to Shanghai to be the rector of Epiphany Church where he had earlier served as reader and choir director.
In 1934, after St John (Maximovich) was appointed to Shanghai, Fr Elias was appointed Dean of the cathedral. In 1949, when the Chinese Communist forces approached the city, Russian emigres began fleeing the country. As a result, St John decided to appoint Fr Elias to be the rector of the Church of the Resurrection of Christ as he himself was sent to be the ruling bishop of Western Europe by the Synod of Bishops. When St John learned that Russians began to flee Hong Kong, he made arrangements for Fr Elias to move to San Francisco.
It is worth mentioning that Boris Mikhailovich and his wife, Galina Ivanovna, provided a great deal of help to Fr Elias in his effort to immigrate. We are very grateful for this.
In 1957, Fr Elias arrived in San Francisco to serve under Archbishop Tikhon (Troitsky) and live near the church. In 1972, Fr Elias moved to the newly-constructed cathedral and has lived at the cathedral rectory ever since.
We, the sons of Fr Elias, wish to take this opportunity to thank our beloved father, who raised well his sons and daughter, and helped us get an advanced education. Supporting a large family, rearing and giving six sons and a daughter a magnificent education is a great achievement!
I thank my caring father for his efforts, for we obtained a firm foundation for independent life and achieved success.
From the depths of our hearts we honor our dear father!
We’d like to present him with a small gift obtained during my family’s trip to the city of Peking, where Fr Elias was born; a Chinese hieroglyph “SHOU,” which means long life, exactly what we all earnestly wish for him!
(Russkaya zhizn’, 26 November 1996).