Introductory courses in culture, history for new missionaries
About 30 new missionaries who have just arrived in Taiwan will attend this year’s sessions to be held on all five Saturdays of March.
The Association of Major Superiors under the Taiwan Regional Catholic Bishops´ Conference is offering an introductory course on the life and challenges of the Catholic Church in Taiwan for new missionaries beginning their service on the island.
About 30 new missionaries who have just arrived in Taiwan will attend this year’s sessions to be held on all five Saturdays of March. Father Fabrizio Tosolini, Sister M Christiane Oyales and Father Willy Ollevier will conduct these sessions on Taiwanese culture and Church.
The course has become a tradition carried on by the Association of Major Superiors that represents 30 men’s and 56 women’s religious orders in Taiwan.
“The new arrivals study Chinese and Taiwanese throughout weekdays. The Saturday classes in English provide them with a more general introduction and help to acquire a broader knowledge of the history and mission of the Church in Taiwanese society,” said Father Tosolini.
He explained the significance of a proper cultural initiation for new missionaries: “Improving our awareness of the environment in which we are called to serve and to make closer ties of cooperation between the missionaries is really important. I believe that this is the best way to invigorate the passion of everyone towards our mission... It helps to avoid obvious mistakes in communication and at the same time to realize the rich tradition of the Catholic mission in Taiwan. Our collective creativity can then continue to enrich future generations,” Father Tosolini said.
There are 14 indigenous peoples in Taiwan. The Protestant and Catholic Churches have been working among them for several decades.
According to the Indigenous Theology Research Centre at Fu Jen Catholic University, almost half of Taiwan’s Catholics are indigenous people.
Amis, Atayal, Truku, Paiwan, Bunun, Rukai and Tsou Catholics already have the Gospel, Mass missal and hymns in their respective languages, and the Bible Society in Taiwan has been working on Bible translations since 1968.
In the 1980s an awakening occurred among indigenous people, who wanted to restore the use of their original languages and indigenous names, when the law at the time required names to be given and registered in Han Chinese form. Since then, the use of tribal languages has extended beyond the Church and into the realm of politics, becoming a symbol of indigenous pride and cultural identity.