Obituary for Christa Shih

Christa Shih, was born May 2,1926 to Anna & Paul Sun. She was the middle child of 3 children. She grew up in Beijing China until 1932, at age 6, when the Japanese invaded and occupied China. Her family moved to the British district of Tientsin, a city 200 miles from Beijing.  Although not catholic at the time, her parents sent her to catholic schools for a better education. By the grace of God, Christa converted to Catholicism when she was 17 years old, a senior in high school. She was baptized on Christmas Eve 1943, becoming the first Catholic layperson in her family.

Mom’s Catholic faith has been a cornerstone in her life. Back in Dublin in the early 40’s, Rev Fr. Aedan McGrath, met Frank Duff, the founder of Legion of Mary. Fr. McGrath’s mission was to establish and extend the Legion of Mary in Asia and by 1948 there were as many as 1000 Legion of Mary presidia being set up among different cities.

 After graduating from (Fu-Jen) Catholic University of Beijing and returning to Tientsin to teach English at her High School, Mom shared she had the good fortune of meeting Fr Aedan McGrath in 1948. Together, they set up 2 presidia: one senior, and one junior. Christa was the president of the junior presidium while her friend Joanna, was the senior presidium president. 6 months after this was established, the Communist occupied Tientsin. 6 months later under Communist rule, her family fled and settled in Taiwan while she moved to Hong Kong. She stayed in Hong Kong teaching English from 1949-1952 and during this time, joined the Hong Kong Legion of Mary.

In September of 1951 she learned the bad news that Rev Fr Aedan McGrath, SSC was arrested in Shanghai by the communist for expanding Legion of Mary. He was imprisoned in solitary confinement until May 1, 1954 where he was expelled from China, returning to Ireland via Hong Kong and Liverpool. In addition, all Chinese Catholics and Legion of Mary members were arrested. Her friend, Joanna was sentenced to 20 yrs internment.

In 1952, Christa rejoined her family in Taiwan. In seeking the Legion of Mary there, she learned that it did not exist. Having been spared the persecution at the hand of the Communists, unlike her beloved friends, Christa felt a duty and privilege to start the Legion of Mary in Taiwan. She learned that Rev Fr Aedan McGrath’s younger brother Rev Fr. Ivar McGrath, SSC was stationed in Taipei, the capital of Taiwan where her family resided. After contacting Rev Fr Ivar, he agreed to be the spiritual director and obtained Bishop Kuo’s permission. Together, with the local parish priests, they established the first presidium, Heavenly Gate which Christa was the president of. Their mission was to start Legion of Mary in different parishes in Taipei City, and eventually throughout Taiwan. By the time Mom left for America in 1957, they had established 40 Presidia throughout the island.

Christa met the love of her life, Thomas Shih, Freshman year in College where she majored in English.  They married 10 years later on August 16th, 1953 in Taiwan at The Mother of God Church and enjoyed 41 years of marriage. In order to marry Christa, Tom converted to Catholicism right before their wedding day. Christa spent the next 4 years working for Catholic Social Services in Taiwan where she was an administrator directly under Rev Fr Gerardi who served as the Controller for the Diocese.

After 4 years of marriage, they gave birth to their 1st of 6 children, son James, in Taipei. Motivated to seek a better life, they immigrated to the USA via San Francisco. It was a bold & brave move.  They left China to begin a new life with a 2 month old toddler, $400.00 in their pocket, and with courage, faith and determination.  Their journey to America was aided by the Catholic Church community. They were received by a Jesuit priest who met them and helped get them settled in an apartment in San Francisco. Within 1 week, both Christa & Thomas found full-time jobs in banking beginning a career with UCB bank which later merged with Wells Fargo. Over the next 3 years, Christa & Tom welcomed 3 more sons: Michael, Steven & David. 4 years later, they welcomed their 1st daughter Carol, then youngest daughter and child Christine, 18 months later.

After 11 years in San Francisco, Christa & Tom moved their family of 8 to Daly City, where they remained until their retirement to Folsom, Ca. In 1993. With Thomas’s untimely death in 1995, Christa came back to join her children on the Peninsula and settled down in a vibrant community filled with friends & faith in Foster City, Ca where she remained. She set new roots joining St Lukes Catholic Church parish where she also became an active member of The Legion Of Mary.

Christa was the matriarch of her family. Throughout the years of life's joy, challenges, and sorrows, she was her families guiding light. She will be greatly missed. She is survived by son James and daughter-in-law Yvonne, and former daughter in-law Patricia; widowed daughter in- law Tammy and husband Ken; son Steven and daughter-in-law Rebecca; son David; daughter Carol and son-in-law James; daughter Christine and son-in-law Glenn . Grandchildren James Jr and wife Tamar, Jason, Christa and husband Laqwon, Nicholas, Steven, Christopher, Nathan, & Ashley. Great grandchildren Tristan, Addison, and Aria. Her death was preceded by her beloved husband Thomas and dear son Michael.