A recent visit to Saint Viator High School by Mr. Sung Cheng, a native of Taiwan, proves that the bonds of a Viatorian education do last a lifetime.
It was in 1967, or nearly 50 years ago, that Mr. Cheng first attended Wei Tao (Viator) School in Taichung, Formosa. His freshman year English teacher was Fr. Simon Lefebvre, C.S.V., who is retired and now living at the Viatorian Province Center in Arlington Heights.
The former teacher—the oldest member of the Viatorian Community—and his student continue to stay in touch.
“At my other school, the teachers always shouted at us,” Mr. Cheng said. “At (Viator), they called me Mr. Cheng. That’s when I felt I was really respected.”
Viatorian missionaries arrived in Formosa, now Taiwan, in 1951 after all missionaries in mainland China were expelled from the country. Around the same time, Viatorians also established a mission in Kyoto, Japan and opened Rakusei-St. Viator.
“There were many missionaries in our country at that time,” Mr. Cheng says. “They made many sacrifices for us. They did everything for their students.”
As a result, Mr. Cheng and his classmates developed special ties with their teachers that they cherish to this day.
Mr. Cheng went on to attend a university in Taiwan before establishing a career in management at a manufacturing plant in Vietnam.
When his classmates began holding reunions with their former teachers, he set out to document the history of the school, and by extension its founders, the Viatorians, as well as write biographies of their teachers. He ultimately plans to publish a book.
Some of his research took him to the Viatorian Archives, located at the Province Center in Arlington Heights. During his recent three day-stay, Fr. Arnold Perham, C.S.V., suggested he tour Saint Viator High School.
During his visit, Mr. Sung met Mrs. Eileen Manno, principal, and Mrs. Mary Lee DeBelina, assistant principal, before touring the school.
When asked about the impact of his years at (Viator), Mr. Cheng said simply: “There was a special spirit at the school, a sense of freedom. It was different than any other school at the time.”
Viatorians no longer sponsor Wei Tao (Viator), but its new administrators have kept the name.