WHY PARTICULARLY TAIWAN IN THE OPTION FOR ASIA?

WHY PARTICULARLY TAIWAN IN THE OPTION FOR ASIA?

Right from the day the Consolata Missionaries made the official communication on the opening of the new mission in Taiwan, the above has been the very commonly asked question from all quarters; of course phrased in different ways:

– Why are the Consolata Missionaries closing other missions in Africa and Latin America and instead opening new ones in Asia?
– The Consolata Missionaries, like any other Congregation today, is experiencing vocational as well as financial crisis. Why then open new missions in Asia which will require more investment in these areas?
– The Consolata missionaries have the option for the poor. Why go to Taiwan which is a very developed country?
– Why Taiwan specifically and not Philippines, Cambodia, Indonesia, etc.?

Well, the list can continue as we keep hearing them every now and then, and indeed they are justified concerns, given the fact that even we (the three pioneers of the said mission: Fr. Eugenio, Piero and Mathews) did have similar queries at the beginning. Nevertheless, it’s worth noting that the choice for Taiwan, just like that for Angola (being the other new Consolata mission to be opened this year in Africa) has not been a mere coincidence but rather a well discerned option in line with the general missiological guidelines of the Consolata Missionaries.

To clear all doubts from our minds, we (the three first missionaries destined to Taiwan) did ask for a meeting with the General Direction so to hear from the horse’s mouth. The following were the points clarifying the decision of the XII General Chapter (about a new opening in Asia) and that of the General Direction about the new mission in Taiwan:

a. It is of great importance to note that the Founder (Blessed Joseph Allamano), right from the beginning of the Institute, had already dreamt about Asia (and more specifically China) as noted in his Conferences to the missionaries of between April 1919 – January 1922 (Conf. SMC, II,539; 548-549; 561; 631, III, 38; III, 125-126; III, 362). During the time of the Founder this dream wasn’t realized due to the fact that the number of missionaries was still insignificant. Now this is not an excuse anymore and therefore it is important to imprint in our minds the fact that Asia is also our mission land.

b. Consolata “Missionaries are consecrated to God for the missions… and especially to the non-Christians,” as expressed in our Constitutions No. 5 & 87. Asia is the continent with the lowest number of Christians and so automatically qualifies as a mission land for the Consolata Missionaries.

c. After the openings in Korea and Mongolia, there has been a strong feeling to open a mission in China (following the original desire of the Founder as noted in No. a. above), being a very populous country with insignificant number of Christians. This hasn’t been possible and so an alternative was necessary, acting as a bridge or a stepping-stone to the Mainland China in the future.

The following are the advantages (strengths) as well as disadvantages (challenges) of Taiwan over other options like the Philippines, Cambodia, etc.:

Strengths:

i. It is situated in an area closer to Korea and Mongolia, making it easier for the confreres working in Asia to plan their mission together in the spirit of Continentality.

ii. It is a real place for 1st Evangelization given the minimal number of Christians at present (the total population of the country is 23 million while the Christians are only 300,000).

iii. It offers several possibilities for pastoral activities, not excluding parish pastoral work.

iv. There is freedom of worship and so missionaries would feel at ease to work with no unnecessary restrictions. It is also easy to enter there as a religious without unnecessary persecutions.

v. It has Ecclesiastical universities where further studies for specialization can be realized (but even for future basic formation of seminarians).

vi. Taiwan also is at a vantage point to China and may in future be used as a stepping stone for entering the Mainland China, as was the initial dream of the Congregation.

Challenges:
i. The language (Chinese Mandarin), being the preferred language, is not easy to learn.

ii. The work of evangelization in Taiwan is a rather discouraging one since the number of Christians is ever minimal even after several years of hard work (as reported by the various missionaries working there).

iii. There are too many religious communities currently in Taiwan. That makes our presence there a challenging one since we have to make a difference in order to be relevant there.

iv. Taiwan is a rich country yet as Consolata Missionaries we are called to have preference for the poor.

N/B: This affirmation from our General Superior with regards to the above topic is amazing: “Asia is not in need of IMC; on the contrary, the IMC is in need of Asia so to become more missionary.” – Fr. Stephano Camerlengo.

COMMENTS (1)
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I hail this great and brilliant idea to have a new opening. It is a well thought endeavour and all I wish to the pioneers is the Grace of God because, with their big heart for the mission, only God’s grace that will be sufficient.

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