One of the joys in Donald Wong’s life is helping strangers know Jesus Christ. This past April, he brought someone with no faith to the Church. It was a friend he met at a park while the two were watching their children play. And even though Wong has spent years bringing people to the faith, he wasn’t always active in it.
An only child, Wong was born to a homemaker mother and a doctor father who died in his sleep when Wong was only 10.
“I had a hard time accepting God,” says Wong. “Life was tough for the first 25 years of my life.”
But the journey to his Catholic faith was one helped along by a Benedictine hermit and reading greats like G.K. Chesterton and C.S. Lewis. Since becoming a Catholic, his wife and his mother, former atheists, have also been baptized.
Wong first heard about the Jesuits through movies and stories of their missionary work when he was in his Twenties. He and his wife Diana were married at the Jesuit parish of Our Lady of Lourdes in Toronto, where all their children, Wesley, Charlotte, Maximilian, and Ignatius, were baptized.
“Faith is the centre of our family, and it guides our decisions,” says Wong. “We try to reinvest a significant portion of our income into the community.”
The family bought many acres to declare as conservation land. They run affordable housing under cooperative and rent-to-own agreements with tenants. They operate St. Maximilian Retreat House as a non-profit where there is a small library of books by Jesuits, copies of St. Ignatius of Loyola’s Spiritual Exercises and the 2016 movie about the saint’s life. For many years, Protestant and Catholic small groups and pastoral teams alike have found solace at this place.
Wong and his family also sponsor overseas missions. They currently sponsor a Christian school and social enterprise in Myanmar. They have supported Jesuits in China and Taipei and plan to broaden support for more missionary work in faraway places. And, of course, the family generously supports the Jesuits of Canada, including men in formation, the infirmary, scholarships and the priests and brothers in Haiti.
A regular follower at Jesuit events, Wong says he looks for opportunities to learn more about the lives of Jesuits and says he is grateful for their work and inspiration. He is inspired by men like Fr. Tony Van Hee, SJ, and those who fight for the unborn. Annually, the family issues three scholarship awards recognizing students for their example-setting work and commitment to defending the youngest, who have consistently answered the call of Saint John Paul II to be “people of life and for life,” with the award criteria set by Fr. Gordon Rixon, SJ.
“The Jesuits leave the 99 to find the one lost, even if it means persecution upon them,” says Wong. He adds: “No other order has been so controversial, so persecuted and offered so much to broaden Christendom.”