Father Raphael Vance, C.P., St. Paul of the Cross Province (1894-1958)

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Born John Vance on November 29, 1894 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, he was the son of William and Mary Cotter Vance. His home parish was St. Philip’s. He went to Annunciation School and St. Theresa’s. Then he went to the Passionist Preparatory Seminary, St. Mary’s, Dunkirk, New York. He returned home due to ill health but with medical attention was able to enroll at St. Joseph’s College, Philadelphia. He then went back to Dunkirk some time later and in 1912 entered the Passionist novitiate in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and professed his vows on January 20, 1913. He was ordained on December 18, 1920. He volunteered for the China missions and was a member of the first group that left Seattle, Washington for that Hunan mission on Christmas Eve 1921. In 1951, thirty years later, he was expelled by the Communists and returned to the United States. During that time he was at Chenki, Hunan where he was taught by the Spanish Augustinians from whom the Passionists took responsibility of the mission in the mid-1920s. Other missions were Yungshun, Paotsing and Supu – all in Hunan. Father Vance was the first consultor in the mission from 1924 until 1929 when Monsignor Dominic Langenbacher, C.P. was superior. From 1929 until 1933 he was first consultor while Father William Westhoven, C.P. was superior. From 1936 until 1939 he was on the executive council for the Yuanling diocese. For nine years he was superior of the Passionist mission in Hunan and Peiking. This was during the World War II era in China. On November 16, 1950 he suffered a stroke in Yuanling. Only when the Sisters of Charity were expelled on March 28, 1951 was Father Vance allowed to leave a few weeks later on April 24, 1951. He eventually arrived back in the United States and got care at St. Joseph’s Hospital, Paterson, New Jersey. His last years were spent with his sisters at Margate, New Jersey where he stayed in their care until his death. He was buried from Union City, New Jersey.

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