To celebrate this very 1st anniversary of the Consolata Missionaries’ newest Mission in the Asian Continent really seems like a dream. I can assure you of this; that for us who begun this mission from the very first day, this is really a blessed day; it’s indeed the day that the Lord has made!!!
Last year on a day like this, 12th September 2014 to be precise, three of us: Frs. Eugenio, Piero and Mathews, arrived in Taiwan to mark the beginning of the Consolata Missionaries’ presence in this Asian Island. Just like I expressed in the earlier articles, ours were lots of excitement obviously marked with some kind of fear, confusion, joy, name it. However, God is really good all the time! Indeed the clock kept tickling and today we are here celebrating our first “Birthday”.
I must say that ours has not yet been a long journey; however, lots of things have been happening. May I mention just but a few significant ones:
1. THE STUDY OF CHINESE MANDARIN
Right from the time our names were officially published in our IMC Newsletter as the three missionaries destined to open the new mission, lots of our friends begun to bombard us with questions as to whether we were really aware of the task ahead of us. They were obviously referring to the learning of the dreaded Chinese Mandarin language. This made us kind of scared but at the same time convinced that we wanted to give it a chance.
What about now? How far are we with the process of learning the language? Well, the answer is obvious: we are still VERY far!!! The good news is that we are no longer the same as we started… your guess is as good as mine. Just like I expressed in my previous articles in reference to the study of Chinese language, I once again insist that this requires a lot of PATIENCE! (pole pole…)
2. SOCIO-CULTURAL AND RELIGIOUS LIFE
It is probably too early to claim to have grasped much about the local socio-cultural world of these lovely people; however, the fact that we are already beginning to find ourselves rather settled and comfortable is an indication that lots of things are already beginning to make sense to us. Food and table etiquette, dressing code, social relations as well as greeting style, etc., are all a lesson of new life for us. Every now and then we wake up to many different surprises that confirms to us that we still have a long way to go in the journey of learning these good people’s ways of life and worship.
Sometimes the reality is so hard to swallow but we have to be patient. For example, accepting the fact that Christmas, Easter (Pascua), All Saints day, etc., are not holidays but instead normal working days, is honestly a hot potato to swallow. However, looking at reality from their point of view, we have to accept the difference and from there, begin to dialogue in a spirit of mutual respect. Once again we pray for patience.
3. PASTORAL ENGAGEMENT
According to our agreement with the hosting Diocese, the first two years are solely meant for studying the language before beginning any serious pastoral engagement. Nevertheless; we have found ourselves in an environment with insufficient number of pastoral agents (especially priests). This means that the demand is pretty high while the labourers are few. This being the case, right from the start we decided to give a hand in some of the diocesan pastoral areas: Immigrants pastoral work (especially the Spanish community and the Philippine community), University pastoral work (especially with the National Txing Hua University Volunteer group), and Chaplaincy to the Holy Spirit Sisters.
I assure you that this is already too much stuff combined with the learning of the language, but we believe that it is the best way to go, just like the good saying goes: “an idle mind is the devil’s workshop”. At the same time we can’t afford to remain indifferent to the self-evident reality of pastoral need when in real sense we are able to give a hand.
4. CANONICAL VISIT
The conclusion of this first year has been marked with a very significant event for our small and young community. The Canonical visitation brought for us a new reassurance, fresh breath, timely encouragement and a brighter hope for the future. We thank the General Superior and the Continental Councilor for their time spent among us and for the great words of wisdom and encouragement.
In their concluding remarks was the most awaited news of the two new members destined to come to Taiwan early next year. This is great news both for us as well as for our local Bishop who is currently in dare need of more priests to serve the Diocese.
With all the above significant events of our new mission we want to invite you to rejoice with us in the Lord as we begin the second year. We rely on the guiding hand of God as well as on your most appreciated prayers and support.
HAPPY 1ST ANNIVERSARY!!!!!