Fr. Joseph Shih, SJ, meets me just a few meters from the Vatican at the entrance to the St. Peter Canisius Jesuit Residence.
La Civiltà Cattolica has already published two of his articles but I have never met him.
The man is 90 years old, and he gives me a warm, smiling welcome. His face carries the marks of a life of many moments, and the traces that remain communicate an experience of serenity and deep peace.
I ask him about himself; I want him to tell me who he is.
“My parents had five boys and five girls. All were born and grew up in the Shanghai region,” he tells me. And he goes on:
“I was born at Ningbo, a port city south of Shanghai, and spent my early childhood with my maternal grandma, in the countryside. I don’t remember when I arrived in Shanghai. I know I studied in Zikawei, a locality now better known as Xujiahui, at the St. Louis School and then at St. Ignatius College. I went to Mass every day in the parish church. After the attack on Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1941, the Canadian Jesuits working at Xuzhou converged on the residence in Xujiahui. Some of them came to Mass in my parish regularly. When I finished studying at St. Ignatius College in 1941 my desire to become a Jesuit had matured. On August 30, 1944, I entered the Society of Jesus and was ordained priest in the Philippines, March 18, 1957.”