June 2010, two weeks in Taiwan. Two weeks of holidays? Good life, these missionaries! Not really...Actually, we went to Taiwan for two weeks of work. Every three years, the confreres who are working in Taiwan and Vietnam gather to evaluate their missionary work during the last three years and to make some projets for the future. This year, the three confreres of Vietnam joined the seven confreres of Taiwan, plus the general superior and one Irish confrere (both of them worked in Taiwan in the past), as well as the facilitator of the gathering, an Irish confrere who is currently working in Pakistan.
Time of sharing with some friends of the spiritans in Taiwan
Conversation between the bishop of Hsinchu (Taiwan), Father Patrick Palmer and Father O'Brian.
This kind of meeting is an opportunity to live as brothers and also to evaluate our spiritan commitments. People usually ask us : « What is the spiritan charism? » It is difficult to answer to that kind of question since our commitments vary from one country to another, according to the ecclesial and social situation of each country. In Taiwan and Vietnam, some of us preach retreats ; others are parish priest or curate, prison and university chaplain, migrants chaplains, formators for seminarians. Since we live in community and work together, we can work on a long term. If one confrere has to leave the country for some reason, an other can replace him. But to say the truth, we have presently lots of commitments and we are a few to carry it on. We have plenty of plans for the future but we are shorted-staff !
One day for resting. We go to visit a huge buddhist monastery
The way people welcome us and support us in Taiwan and in Vietnam gives us motivation to go on. The taiwanese and vietnamese people are touched when they see missionaires who work far from their own countries, who learn a new and difficult language, who discover a new culture and who serve a local church and society. According to our charism, we live in international communities. It is a challenge as well as a sign that living together is possible. Indeed each of us has his character and beside that, we are coming from different churches and societies: from Africa, Europe, Asia and America. As members of a religious order, we are called to live the three vows : poverty, obedience and chastity. This is not that easy. We are often more inclined in working on our own and defend our personal interests. To be fully committed to serve our community and the people we meet in our pastoral work, is not naturel. Like in a family we need to be ready to express our joys and difficulties and also to renounce to ourselves for the good of the others.
The buddhist art, an expression of faith we are called to discover and respect.
As for the future, we hope to open one day a community in China but at the present time, we still foresee many difficulties. China is not open to the presence of missionaries. It would mean to be there in a kind of underground mission. We need also some money for such project. We need staff and since the confreres in Taiwan or Vietnam are attached to the country where they presently work, it is not easy to find volonteers who would accept to leave their current country of mission for a new one, with all the uncertainties related to it. The training of the vietnamese seminarians is also a source of worries. We need qualified formators. Besides, since noviciate and theology will be given in Philippines, we foresee that in two years time, one or two confreres of our group will be asked to go to work there as formator in collaboration with the confreres who are already present in that country.
The forests of Taiwan, a luxuriant atmosphere...
To be united is also to enjoy to have good time together...
Through the joys and difficulties we meet, one thing remains constant : we are happy to be missionaries. In a humble way, we find our place in the huge asian continent, happy to answer to the call made by the former general chapter : Go into deeper water. No big deal, since the Holy Spirit is our boss !