Remembering Betty Ann Ong 9/11 Flight Attendant

By Fiona Ma
Chairwoman Emeritus of the California State Board of Equalization

Board of Equalization Member Fiona Ma visits
the Betty Ann Ong Chinese Recreation Center

Flight attendant Betty heroically notified the American Airlines ground crew of the hijacking situation on board.

I was born in New York and I was working in California when the 9/11 attacks occurred. I vividly recalled the confusion, the horror, and the tragedy of that day.

I distinctly remember coming upstairs around 7 a.m. California time and finding my father glued to the television, crying. I asked him what was wrong, and he couldn’t speak. He kept staring at the television while they replayed the planes flying into the Twin Towers and the pandemonium surrounding the attacks. 

remember hearing the news updates regarding the four planes involved. I remember my anxiety and concern, wondering if I knew anyone in the planes that were bound for California, or anyone that was hurt in the devastation that followed.

I remember hearing about the courage of American Airlines flight attendant Betty Ann Ong as she responded to a crisis on Flight 11 that was bound for the west coast, one of the first planes to become hijacked on September 11, 2001. The plane was just 15 minutes into its journey from Boston when it became clear something was wrong. Betty heroically notified the American Airlines ground crew of a hijacking situation on board. 

She stayed on the phone for nearly 25 minutes, relaying vital information until the plane crashed into the North Tower at 8:46 a.m.

I will never forget.

And yet...despite the darkness this day brought, I will also always remember the light that shone through people’s hearts.

I remember watching the first responders frantically rescue and help anyone they could reach, without consideration for their own safety and well-being. I remember hearing about people lining up to donate food, clothing, and blood; anything possible to help. I remember watching crying people thanking strangers that saved their lives. My life was changed by how the communities around me pulled together.

My husband’s life also changed after the attacks on 9/11. His sister lived close to the Pentagon, his brother was in the Armed Services, and his firefighter father was on high alert in the station. Because of the events of this day, Jason was inspired to become a firefighter.

It was a time etched into my mind because it conveyed the best qualities of my fellow Americans at the most trying and adverse time in recent American history– how we pulled together, remained strong, united, and most of all, helped each other when we needed it the most.

Though tragic, on that day, we showed the world we have strength, we have heart, we have compassion, and we will never forget. 

When I drive past the Betty Ong Chinese Recreation Center and see how that area serves the growing number of families in San Francisco, I remember the courage of an everyday San Francisco native who grew up in Chinatown, attended San Francisco’s public schools, and became an American hero who gave her life for her country. 

I remember the heroism of the passengers on Flight 93 bound for San Francisco, in which the passengers managed to retake control before it crashed into a field outside of Pennsylvania. 

Then I smile to know that her name and heroism are remembered, as it is prominently featured on a building that is doing so much good for the local community and improving lives of families in the area. 

We are making life better for the next generation.

On 9/11, take a moment of silence to reflect on what happened that day and remember those who are no longer with us. Thank you to the first responders, military, men, women, visitors, strangers, and Americans that lost their lives that day to help our nation survive that dark time. While fear and terror tried to divide us, we as a nation rose above hate and were unified by love and hope. Let’s remember the sacrifice made by all those affected that day, and respect their memories by living life with integrity and honor. Their sacrifice demands nothing less.

# # #

This 9/11 news article from Huffington Post
was shared with EAM by the Rev. Debra Low-Skinner




The Rev. Dr. Franco Kwan to retire in June after 38 years of parish ministry

Members of the Asian Commission of the Diocese of California (ACDC) gathered for a Chinese dinner in South San Francisco on May 10th to celebrate the Rev. Dr. Franco Kwan's 38 years of parish ministry, his years of participation in the ACDC and his upcoming retirement. 

After 18 years as the rector of True Sunshine Episcopal Parish in San Francisco's Chinatown, Fr. Franco will officially retire on June 4th.  

Before serving at True Sunshine Parish, Fr. Franco served as Priest-in-Charge of St. George's Parish in Flushing NY, in the Diocese of Long Island.

A special worship service will be held at True Sunshine, with Bishop Marc Andrus presiding, on the Feast of Pentecost, June 4th, at 4 pm.  The parish will also celebrate its 112th anniversary on that day.  

And,  a retirement dinner at the Far East Restaurant in Chinatown will follow the service.  

At both events, members of the ACDC will be in attendance, as well as the Rev. Dr. Fred Vergara, EAM Missioner from thje Episcopal Church HQ, who will present Fr. Kwan with a special EAM plaque.

The ACDC warmly wishes Fr. Franco and his fiancee Joyce with all things joyous and blessed, as they prepare to get married in July at the cathedral in Hong Kong.  The wedding banquet will be in Kowloon.

Photos show ACDC members with Fr. Franco Kwan at the Grand Palace Restaurant in South San Francisco; Fr. Franco blowing out the candle of his cake; and fiancee Joyce holding Valentine's Day roses from Fr. Franco.


News story and photos submitted by the Rev. Debbie Low-Skinner, Co-chair of the ACDC and Priest-in-Charge of Christ Episcopal Church Sei Ko Kai, San Francisco.


Rest in Peace: Donald Skinner

The Rev. Debbie Low-Skinner reported that her husband Donald Skinner passed away at age 85 on December 7, 2016.  

He was a retired urban planner, having worked during his long career in Detroit, Chicago, Boston, and in the San Francisco Bay Area.  Over the past few years, he had been coping with Parkinson's Disease and Lewy Body Dementia.  

His funeral was held on January 6, 2017 at St. Luke's Episcopal Church in Los Gatos, CA, with The Rt. Rev. Marc Andrus (Diocesan Bishop of California) as the Celebrant and the Very Rev. David Bird (Dean of Trinity Episcopal Cathedral in San Jose,CA) as assisting clergy.

Rest eternal grant to him, O Lord
And let light perpetual shine upon him


Mother Debbie served in the Diocese of Long Island at congregations in Garden City and in North Bellmore.

Now to July 16 - Chinese Art Exhibit at the Met in NYC

>> Click here for details about the Metropolitan Museum of Art Exhibit of Chinese Art, which continues to July 16.



Presiding Bishop Visits Diocese of Taiwan

>> Click here for the official Episcopal News Service story, video and photos of Presiding Bishop Michael Curry's visit in February to the Diocese of Taiwan

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry and
Taiwan Bishop David Jung-Hsin Lai
concelebrate the Eucharist during a
service at St. John’s Cathedral in Taipei. 
Photo: Catherine Lee


Asia Week NY starts March 9

>> Click here to see the official announcement of Asia Week in New York, a celebration of fine art from countries in Asia.

The March 2017 edition of Asia Week New York brings together over fifteen museums and cultural institutions presenting exhibitions, lectures and special events throughout New York City and its surrounding areas.