2ND CONSOLATA PARISH IN TAIWAN –

ST. JOSEPH THE WORKER PARISH, HSINPU

Unlike the Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish in Hsinchu downtown which was the first parish in Taiwan handed over directly from the Jesuits to the Consolata Missionaries, this second parish instead an orphaned parish in all senses.  It is a Spanish-style building located at the intersection of Minsheng Jie and Zhongzheng Road. The church building is characteristic of conspicuous pink walls which makes it look quite warm and approachable.

A quick look from the outside of the wall to the inside may lead one into a spatial illusion of being inside a foreign country. In fact the Church was built by the Spanish Jesuit priest, Father San Langdo ,  in 1944, thus the whole architect of the church is Spanish; nevertheless, the inside images as well as writings have been substantially inculturated.  It is undoubtedly a beautiful Western-style building standing in the middle of the  Hsinpu township Street. In the past, the maiden parish provided free medical resources for the locals as well as a kindergarten and a vocational school. While the first two are were taken up by the government, the Neisi vocational school is still operational and is one of the highly regarded schools in the vicinity and even nationally.

As has been the case with most parishes in Hsinchu diocese, the Jesuits after having sufficiently nurtured Hsinpu parish to maturity, handed it over to the diocese. But because the diocese has insufficient local clergy, handed over the parish to the Korean Mission Society for its management. In 2006, the parish celebrated its 50th anniversary under the management of the Korean Mission Society.

On 19th March 2019, being the parish feast of St. Joseph the worker, the parish woke up to a sad news of the demise of the parish priest who, after a long illness, had died in the room the previous night. This would follow a one year long of absence of a resident priest in the parish until the Consolata missionaries would arrive in March 2020 as resident priests. However, it wasn’t until 27th February 2022 when the two resident Consolata priest, Frs. Mathews Odhiambo and Emmanuel Temu, would officially be installed as parish priest and assistant respectively.

The parish is composed of a rather small number of Christians (Sunday Mass attendants are about 30 people every Sunday with exception of feast days when they could even reach 80) as compared to the city parishes; however, the palpable family atmosphere as well as the rather simple lifestyle of the people is so fulfilling.

It is important to note that the parish is established among the Hakka people as opposed to the Minaan people of our Scacred Heart of Jesus parish in Hsinchu. This makes a huge difference in terms of evangelization approach since the two ethnic groups are culturaly unbelievably diverse. The insertion of this parish among the locals is an incredible opportunity of encounter with the local cultures and religions leading to an inevitable process of interreligious dialogue (dialogue of life as well as dialogue of religious experience) without forgetting the spontaneous cultural exchanges between the foreign priests and the locals. To this end, the Consoata Missionaries are thankful to the local bishop for this opportunity to lean and sharpen our missionary preparedness through the encounter with these complex cultures and diverse religions.

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