Fr. Richard Arens, SVD

Fr. Richard Arens, SVD was born on June 2, 1912 in West Germany. He entered the SVD on May 1, 1934, and on September 17, 1938 he was ordained priest. The next year he was already in the mission in Shantung, China, teaching in a high school in Jining. He was transferred later to Beijing and was appointed as the principal of Fu Jen High School in Beiping. After expulsion from China in 1949, he went to the University of Chicago for studies, with a doctorate in education. After working with the UNESCO for one year in Paris, he was in the mission again in the Philippines (1953-1960), teaching in Tacloban, and in the University of San Carlos in Cebu. In 1961 he was assigned to Taiwan with the task to help the then President of Fu Jen Catholic University, Cardinal Paul Yü Pin, to prepare for the reestablishment of the university in Taipei, Taiwan.

Upon receiving his new appointment, he wrote to an SVD priest in Chicago: “I must admit that I like to work in Fu Jen University. This had inspired me to do my doctorate in the University of Chicago to well equip myself to be back to Beijing as soon as the Communist was gone. The result was out of my imagination, but I can still do something. With the blessings from God and your great help, I believe this work will be fulfilled.”

Representing the SVD Section, he established the faculty of Science and Technology and the Faculty of Foreign Languages. As a great planner he started the construction of buildings in the SVD section, including Office building, Library, Auditorium, and Laboratory as well as classrooms. He had planned and built 17 different buildings for the university when he left Taiwan in 1973. There were 5 departments in the faculty of Science and Technology; Math, Home Economics, Physics, Chemistry, and the department of Biology. There were also 5 departments in the Faculty of Foreign Languages; English, German, French, Spanish and Japanese Department. Of course many people have been involved in these works, but the main actor behind all these was Fr. Arens, SVD.

In 1973 he left Taiwan back to Germany, and did missionary services for members of foreign embassies in Germany. At the same time he continued to promote Chinese Culture in his home country. Thus in 1975, he was awarded with a special medal by The Ministry of Education of the Republic of China for his contribution of promoting Chinese culture, and in 1979 he was awarded Honorary Doctorate by Fu Jen University.

On April 19, 1990 he died in the SVD Mission House in St. Augustin in Germany at the age of 78.

On March 5, 1999 a Theatre and Conference Centre at the university was inaugurated. And in February, 2002, the centre was re-named the Arens Performing Arts Centre in order to commemorate one of the founders of the re-establishment of Fu Jen Catholic University in Taiwan, Father Richard Arens, SVD.