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Optimism for the Church in Taiwan

TAIPEI (Agencies): “Taiwan expresses its closeness to Pope Francis and the universal Church, as well as committing itself to its continuing mission of evangelisation,” Joao Cardinal Braz de Aviz, the prefect of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, said at a Mass of thanksgiving for the election of the new pope in Taipei on April 14.

Held at a packed church in the parish of the Holy Family, the Mass was attended by all the bishops of Taiwan, priests working in Taipei, and Monsignor Paul Russell, the representative of the Holy See to Taiwan, AsiaNews reported.

From April 15, during an annual gathering known as The Three Days, more than 80 teachers from Catholic schools, including religion and remedial instructors, met in Kaohsiung for an exchange of ideas on pedagogy and to take stock of the situation under the new national educational programme designed to provide common guidelines for all subjects.

They also looked at greater exchange and collaboration within the network that links all the Catholic schools on the island.

A weekend was also organised for 150 people belonging to the Christian Life Community, which was begun 60 years ago by the Jesuits in Taiwan and is made up of people of all ages, at a retreat centre in Changhua to celebrate the 450th the anniversary of the community’s birth in Rome.

It also discussed approaches to mission in the Chinese world, which organisers described as being so hungry for spirituality.

James Tsai, a professor at the National Taiwan University in Taipei, commented that it is not so long since the Taiwan Church was pessimistic about its future, as it was experiencing a sudden drop off in people coming to the church.

“A few years ago we were uncertain about our future, but luckily we had to think again, because in the last five or six years a strong group of university students and recent graduates have become part of our journey of formation and mission,” Tai said.

“This is a great encouragement for the Church of Taiwan and the Chinese mission in the world in which we are engaged. We have received so much, we want to give even more,” he explained.

In addition, the Church is celebrating the Year of Faith, which Pope Benedict XVI described as a time of particular reflection to foster a more complete conversion to God, to strengthen faith in him and to proclaim him with joy to the people of our time.

Fides reported that a symposium organised by the Pontifical Mission Societies and led by Camillian Father Felice Chech from March 19 to 21 in Kaoshiung at the Pastoral Centre of the Mount of the Beatitudes, said that the Church in Taiwan wishes to reflect as a community on the essential relationship that connects faith and evangelisation in order to prompt a renewed commitment in the current Taiwanese society.

Joseph Cardinal Zen Ze-kiun shared about the experience of his former diocese of Hong Kong with the 300 people present, highlighting the valuable role played in spreading the faith by the more than 300 Catholic schools.

Archbishop Peter Liou Cheng-Choung, from Kaohsiung, talked of his personal memories of the late Paul Cardinal Shan Kuo-hsi, remembering him as a strong witness of faith in the Church and in society.

The spiritual director of Fu Jen Catholic University emphasised the role played by tertiary education institutes in presenting the faith to the younger generations. He said that they look at the university campus as an oasis of authentic values lived in the light of Christ and experienced in the concrete development of university life.

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