THE SLOW AND GRADUAL JOURNEY TOWARDS TAIWAN

DSC_5636DSC01032[1]Since February 2014 when the official communication and the public announcement of the names of the three pioneer missionaries for the new mission in Taiwan (Frs. Eugenio, Piero and Mathews), the journey to Taiwan was basically set on motion (at least in the minds of the three). This has involved lots of movements as well as typical activities that characterize any transfer, that is; handing overs, farewells, documentations, etc.
For the three, the following have been the situation since February this year:

 

1. Farewells and Handing overs:
Fr. Eugenio has received this new appointment to Taiwan while he was serving as a formator (of the students of Philosophy) in South Korea, where he had been working as a missionary for 14 years. This meant that he had to take his time in order to do a good handing over to the next missionary taking his position. Having stayed for 14 years in S. Korea, Eugenio had become well know to the local people and so bidding hi farewell was not an easy task. All the same after finishing all that, he eventually travelled to Rome in preparation for the new mission.
Fr. Mathews, on the other hand, was a formator and Rector of the Allamano House Theological Seminary in Nairobi (Kenya) for 5 year, when he received the new appointment to Taiwan. This meant, like in the case of Fr. Eugenio, preparing the handing over, bid farewell to the community and part Rome, after having 27 days of holidays at home.
Fr. Piero instead was appointed to the new mission in Taiwan while he was finishing his Masters in Biblical Studies. This being the case, all he had to do was to finish well the studies and then join the other in Rome to prepare for the next move.

2. Documentation processes
On 1st April 2014, the three (Frs. Eugenio, Piero and Mathews) newly appointed missionaries for the news mission in Taiwan all met in Rome for the first time. Fr. Mathews was arriving directly from Kenya while the other two were coming from England where they had been attending a refresher course in English (since it’s is a very important language for the work in Taiwan, even though it’s not the official language). This first and very significant meeting was all organized by Fr. Ugo (the Continental Councilor in charge of Europe and Asia). On this day Fr. Ugo did a general introduction as well as a warm welcome to the three on behalf of the General Council.
This indeed marked the beginning of a long and tedious struggle for the relevant documents. Since this was not a touristic journey but rather seeking residence status in Taiwan, things got rather complicated and, believe you me, this struggle that started in April has just come to an end on 19th August when we officially received the Taiwan Residence visas. This was quite a relief for all of us and of course the next step was to buy the tickets immediately since nothing was left on course.
At the same time, the group, together with the Fr. Ugo and indeed the General Council, was constantly on a journey of discernment on practical as well as logistical issues. These included: in which dioceses are we going, which Bishop is ready to receive us, where are we going to live, in which university or college are we to do the Chinese language course and for how long, how will this new mission be funded, etc.
To answer all these questions, lots of meetings were done prompting certain visits to Taiwan to in order to obtain some firsthand information. After all the data was collected, an agreement was arrived at, that we are to go to Hsinchu Diocese (one of the 7 dioceses of Taiwan) where the Bishop has officially welcomed us; he is to offer of accommodation for 2 year as we learn Chinese language, after which we shall work in the diocese for 3 three years as we get rooted in to the context of the new mission. These were made in a contract form signed up by the two parties.

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3. The visit of the Taiwan Ambassador
Our process of documentations has been highly facilitated by the kindness of the Taiwan Ambassador to the Holy See and his staff. Him, being a catholic, made all the process look so easy and within un expected period of time, we managed to get the residence visas for Taiwan.
As a consequence we had invited him to have lunch with us and the whole community at the General House in Rome. He did honour this initiation on the 30th August 2014. In his speech to the missionaries, he did emphasize the fact that Taiwan is very privileged to have Consolata Missionaries going there for the purpose of evangelizing that little communist country. He said that he will collaborate with the Consolata Missionaries for any future need of documents for more missionaries in case the community would want to sent some more.

4. The journey to Taiwan
Among other things, it’s important to remind ourselves about the particularity of the mission in Asia. It is the continent with the least number of Christians and hence quite in need of the work of evangelization; but on the other hand, it is the continent that is rather more closed to the reality of Christian faith, making the very work of evangelization quite difficult.
Given this background, our communities already working in South Korea (for the last 25 years) and Mongolia (for the last 10 years), did invite us (the team destined to Taiwan) to join in their Spiritual Exercises as well as the Continental Assembly in order to have some idea of how mission is done in the vast Asian Continent. This was held in Mongolia. It was such an enriching experience and an eye-opener for us who are yet to begin the new adventure.
The team in South Korea, being the first Consolata Mission in the Asian Continent, is certainly the most established mission of the two. They have played a significant role in shaping the new mission in Taiwan. For this reason, they have taken the initiative to invite us (the Taiwan team) to S. Korea (for 10 days) on our way to Taiwan, so to be able to have a closer look and the work of evangelization already realized there, and so be able to pick up some valuable elements that might help the new team to establish the new mission in Taiwan. All these are done in the spirit of Continentality as demanded by our last General Chapter.

What started as a dream is finally getting fulfilled by our departure scheduled for 2nd September 2014 from Rome to South Korea (as stated above), and eventually to get to Taiwan on the 12th September 2014. This will remain a memorable date for the New Consolata Mission in Taiwan, being the official date of arrival of the first three Consolata Missionaries in Taiwan. We pray that the Lord may guide all our steps and that Our Lady Consolata and the Blessed Joseph Allamano may intercede for us in this new adventure. Your prayers and support are most appreciated.

 

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