SOUTHERN TAIWAN FILIPINO MISSIONARIES GATHERING
KAOHSIUNG, TAIWAN. Filipino Missionaries in Southern Taiwan gathered in Kaohsiung City for a two-days rest and recreation on January 10 and 11, 2022. In the past, the Filipino Missionaries in the North, South and Central part of Taiwan took turn in hosting the annual Filipino Missionaries in Taiwan (FMT) gathering. For the past two years, however, the annual FMT get-together event had been scuttled due to the Government’s strict regulations on group gatherings in response to the severity of Covid 19 pandemic.
At 2 o’clock in the afternoon of January 10, twenty-two Filipino Missionaries from Chiayi County, Tainan City and Kaohsiung City gathered together at St. Dominic Parish (聖道明堂), Kaohsiung City for the opening event. Fr. Jarvis Sy, OP, the Pastor of the aforesaid Parish welcomed everyone and gave a short historical background on the Parish as well as the significant celebration of the 800 Foundation Anniversary of the Dominican Order. St. Dominic Parish in Kaohsiung is one of the Churches in Taiwan designated by the Vatican to dispense plenary indulgences to the coming pilgrims. Hence, the FMT participants had a holy opportunity to obtain the graces of plenary indulgence. Three priests heard the confessions of participants. After the Sacrament of Reconciliation, everyone enjoyed munching on Turon and other mouth-watering Filipino delicacies, courtesy of Fr. Jarvis and the Dominican Missionary Sisters. Everyone, then, proceeded to the Dominican International School (DIS), a short drive by car from St. Dominic Parish. Sisters Cathy and Jean toured the missionaries around the school campus and the chapel of the OP Sisters.
From the DIS, the FMT participants headed towards Stella Maris Center. Fr. Lucio Bula, CS the Prior of Scalabrinian Fathers in Kaohsiung City was the gracious host. With the able help of Filipino migrant workers who prepared the food, the missionaries enjoyed a sumptuous dinner. Three priests who, due to some apostolate missed the afternoon event came during dinner. After dinner, the FMT participants sauntered along Kaohsiung harbor enjoying the beautiful multi-colored lights as well as the fantastic scenic attractions. Then, at 9 o’clock in the evening, everyone headed home to rest. Some missionaries from Chiayi and Tainan were billeted at Our Lady of Victory Parish （勝利之后堂） and St. Joseph Parish （聖若瑟堂）, both in Xiaogang District while others stayed at the convent of OAR Fathers in Daliao District.
On January 11 at 7 o’clock in the morning, the missionaries started the day with the Office of Readings, Lauds and meditation at the Church of Our Lady of Victory Parish (OLVP). Breakfast was served at around 8 AM. The parishioners of OLVP prepared the meals shared by the missionaries. At 9:30 AM, the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass was held at the Church with Fr. Norbert Alvin Ma. Canada, MMHC as the main celebrant and Fr. Leonilo Mantilla, CS as the homilist. After the Mass, a mishmash of fun games, informal program, exchanging of gifts was held at the Parish’s activity center. Everyone laughed, cheered and shared the fun while the games were played. Missionaries were seemingly transported to a place where pressures and struggles in the apostolate were temporarily forgotten. Even the Parishioners of OLVP were delighted watching the care-free Priests and the Sisters playing the fun-filled games. Later the parishioners also joined the games. Then, everyone shared a nourishing meal prepared by the OLVP parishioners as well as some Filipino food donors.
The Southern Taiwan FMT gathering participants were composed of 12 priests, 14 Sisters and 2 Lay Missionaries. Among the 12 priests were 4 Recollects (OAR), 2 Dominicans (OP), 2 Scalabrinians (CS), 2 Marians (MMHC) and 2 Neo Catechumenate. Among the 14 Sisters, there were 10 Carmelite Missionaries (CM) and 4 Dominicans (OP). The 2 Lay Missionaries were members of Teresian Association.