Joseph M.C. Kung (“Joe”), the Kung family stalwart and an ardent advocate for the persecuted underground Roman Catholic Church in China, passed away in the early morning hours of February 14, 2023. He was one month shy of his 91st birthday.
Born in Shanghai, China to a distinguished sixth generation Catholic family, he was the second of eight children of Dr. Vincent Kung, a surgeon, and Theresa Yao, a homemaker.
He lived a life of faith, courage, and principle. Always taking the long view, he fought for what was right and just for both his family and so many others.
At 18 years old in 1950, soon after the Communist took over China, he left Shanghai to be reunited with his father, who had fled to Hong Kong months earlier. As the border closed soon after, he could not see his siblings and his mother again for almost 30 years. His father died two years later, leaving him penniless and alone. Joe’s family remains forever grateful to Shanghainese family friends who assisted Joe during this time.
Joe is a proud beneficiary of the Refugee Relief Act of 1953. As a recipient of one of 2,000 visas granted to Chinese refugees, he relocated in 1955 to Ohio and enrolled at John Carroll University. He worked full time throughout his entire four years to put himself through school, graduating in 1959. He continued his education culminating with 2 MBAs – one each from (Case) Western Reserve University and Wayne State University. He was a CPA by trade.
Eventually, he returned to Hong Kong where he married his future wife, Agnes, in 1968. They were blessed with the birth of his four surviving children. A lifelong fervent American patriot, Joe is forever grateful to the United States for his many opportunities including the relocation of his young family to Stamford, Conn. in 1979 to the home that he lived in for the remainder of his life.
Aside from his four children, Joe is most proud of three accomplishments. First, the joy of facilitating the immigration of his mother and six siblings along with their immediate families to the United States. Seeing them happily retired and the next generation blossoming in the land of freedom was one of his greatest joys.
Second, keeping alive the memory of then Bishop (now Cardinal) Kung and successfully fighting for his release in 1987 after 32 years of incarceration in China for his religious beliefs and leadership.
Third, establishing in 1992 the Cardinal Kung Foundation not only to promote the persecuted Roman Catholic Church in China, but also to champion the cause for Cardinal Kung’s canonization.
Joe Kung testified to Congress on multiple occasions, convinced 54 members of Congress to sign a letter to China’s Premier pleading for Cardinal Kung’s release, served as an expert witness to gain asylum for over 30 individuals or families of verified persecuted underground Catholics, and supported hundreds of underground clergy and nuns in renowned European seminaries and universities. His dedication, supported by his Board of Directors, resulted in both awards and condemnation including the Cardinal Mindszenty Award and being named as the biggest enemy of the Chinese government approved Patriotic Association catholic church by one director of a major religious community.
Joe was also a hobbyist inventor, a founder of two companies, a lifelong lover of classical music, a connoisseur of sweets, and above all, a loving dedicated family man.
Joe was predeceased by his older sister Ming Zhu, his beloved parents Dr. Vincent Kung and Theresa Yao Kung, as well as his cherished uncle Ignatius Cardinal Kung. He is survived by his wife of 54 years (Agnes), four children and their spouses (Terese Kung & Tom Scally, John Kung, Francis Kung & Colleen Sharkey-Kung, and Mary Kung), and granddaughter Thea Kung; six siblings and their spouses (Min Sun & Hong Qi Kung, Margaret & Ignatius Chu, Michael and Amy Kung, Peter & Mary Kung, Margaret and David Pang, Martha Ming Kung & John C. Hung); nine nephews and nieces and their spouses, and eight grand nephews and nieces.
Friends may call at the Nicholas F. Cognetta Funeral Home, 104 Myrtle Avenue, Stamford on Friday, February 24, 2023, from 4:30 to 7 pm (with eulogy at 5:30 pm). A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated on Saturday, February 25, 2023, at 10 am at the Basilica of St. John the Evangelist, 279 Atlantic Street, Stamford. Interment will follow at Queen of Peace Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers, please donate to The Cardinal Kung Foundation www.cardinalkungfoundation.org