In obedience to the missionary mandate
Missions ad gentes in Taiwan
Dear Religious Family,
On the day of the Ascension we finished our second mission ad gentes in Taiwan, and we remembered the mandate Our Lord gave to His Apostles, before His departure, that of preaching (Lc 24:47) until the remotest part of the earth (Acts 1:8) the same Gospel. A commandment that the Church cannot avoid without negating herself and that gives to every mission a unique point of view the obedience. The mission is thus understood not as a tactic or strategy, nor as a convenience or opportunity, nor as a search of successes or achievements, but as a fulfillment of an inexcusable mandate which goes beyond personal qualities, statistics or numbers, desires or feelings.
Bishop Martin Su gives the missionary crosses – Wufeng
Having this in mind, we conducted two missions ad gentes in the beautiful island of Taiwan. I say ad gentes because both were addressed to the pagans and not so much to the Christians that might need to rekindle their faith. The two missions that we did in Taiwan were ad gentes and not popular; therefore, the methods and activities have been also different.
Explaining one of the leaflets
The main and almost sole task was the house to house visitation, delivering to the people, mostly pagans, four leaflets. The first one was about how true happiness is only found in God, the second about God’s existence, the third on His oneness and the last one about Jesus Christ. Thus we brought to every house a solid material of easy language and clear ideas about our Catholic faith, to be read at any time. If there were doubts or questions, people could contact the parish, whose address and phone were in each brochure.
House to house visitation
In Taiwan Catholics are a great minority meanwhile pagans and atheist abounds. You may find temples and huge statues of Buddha and of many deities (as Guanyin, Matsu, etc.) everywhere. There is also much worship to the “protectors of the neighborhood”, the so-called Tudigong, whom many people revere, offering incense, food and flowers. People make as well processions in honor of their gods with music and firecrackers. Once we came across with a huge one that, because of the firecrackers, left the whole street full of smoke and the pavement as a carpet of red and tiny destroyed paper. It was impressive to see how people came out of their houses bending their heads or making reverence with their hands, in front of the gods that were passing by. Most homes have altars to idols with incense and red lights and the doors usually have invocations to the gods, asking for protection and even for money.
This was the paganism we wanted and we want to discard. But for that we must go slowly… we need to make people understand the preambula fidei, the most basic things. This was the purpose of these two missions and of the leaflets. We hope God will make someone to read them and to approach the parish … But this is a decision that is His.
How it was the reception at the houses? Not quite friendly. In general there is a lot of rejection and apathy. Most people received the brochures with a kind smile. Others, however, did not accept them, and perhaps, a few others ignore us completely. Rarely we were invited to go in to talk and share a tasty Chinese tea. What a joy was to see, as if by miracle, some Christian sign in the houses! These were sometimes Protestants and hardly Catholics.
The missions have been two: the first one was in the north, in our Parish “Christ the King” of Taoyuan (桃園). The second mission was in the Shrine “Saint Joseph” of Wufeng (霧峰 區), Taichung (臺中).
In both Parishes the welcome and reception have been outstanding. Parishioners of both places behaved with us too generously, providing us all the necessary things for the missionary work. It was beautiful to see people so good and so committed to the Parish’s activities.
The number of religious was not so big, but anyway, we could visit almost the whole Parish territories. In both missions we have been working, along with local religious and laity, priests, seminarians and Servants of the Lord (SSVM), of the Houses of Formation of Lipá, Philippines.
We also had some activities with the Schools Support’s children of both Parishes. With the children of Taoyuan we went for a visit around Taipei, capital of the island, and to visit a unique exhibition: “Treasures of the Vatican” in the National Palace Museum. With children of Wufeng we had a day of hiking, competitions and games… Many of these children are pagans or Christians only, so the apostolate is above all, to make fun and have a good time.
I do not want to end this small chronicle without mentioning a special grace: the visit to the “Founder Image”, which is in our parish of Taiping (太平), Taichung (臺中). It is the image of Our Lady that was at the beginning of our beloved Institute in the chapel of the Annunciation in “La Finca”, the Mother House. It is the image that saw the birth of our Institute and heard the prayers of its first members … of Marcelo, of so many others. It is the image that comforted them in the first difficulties and filled their hearts with holy ideals. More than twenty years ago, Fr. Buela sent it to Taiwan with the first missionaries. We went with several seminarians to visit her and to pray at her feet, to ask for our perseverance and for the entire Institute.
And so it was then that we ended the two weeks of mission knowing that although it was very little what we did, it was too much, because, as in one occasion Fr. Buela said: “where there is nothing, the smallest thing is a lot“. And it’s true, it’s true!
We thank to Our Lady and to God Himself for all the goods we have received and for giving us the opportunity once again to fulfill the missionary mandate, to not be elusive to the missionary adventure.