Expectations and Preparations
In every visit, there are expectations and preparations. A visit by someone who is highly regarded by everyone generates more. The visit of the Superior General, Father Tomaž Mavrič, to the Chinese Province produced expectations from every confrere and member of the Vincentian Family in China and Taiwan. However, it also entailed detailed preparations.
Father Tomaž Mavrič and Father Mathew Kallammakal, Assistant General responsible for Asia-Pacific Region, first came to Mainland China staying from 11 to 16 April there. This mission place is close to heart of the Congregation of the Mission. Hearing of their coming brought about hope to confreres and other members of the Vincentian Family in China. All were expecting him to give them a chance to show who they are, what they do, and what they have, yet with a price to pay – to anticipate the expected and the unexpected. With a very limited time for a vast country, they were able to go only to some parts of Hebei Province and Tianjin. For confreres, having a few hours to cram themselves clandestinely in a hotel room just to share their hopes and challenges – with no disturbance from religious police – was beyond their expectation. They were expecting the expected, but it never happened. For other communities of the Vincentian Family, they were lucky enough to have meaningful exchanges of hopes and challenges in a more open space without fear of intimidation or interruption, which maybe for Father Tomaž was beyond his expectation.
Visiting Taiwan was different. It needed more preparation by organizing every activity in every place – all the details without expecting the unexpected. Thus, in days between 17 and 21 April 2018 Father Tomaž and Father Mathew went to every CM site around Taiwan knowing they would be welcomed with well-prepared activities. Their visit gave an understanding of how confreres through the years search for and serve people who are “the least and the last” in a developed country like Taiwan.
Whatever impressions the Superior General gave us, they will be etched forever in our hearts, knowing that one day he will visit again. That is our expectation, and we have years of preparation.
Here is the roundup of the journey.
Day One, April 11. Arrival to Beijing. The first Mass in celebrated in China with confreres which was arranged in a hotel in Beijing. The Eucharist and dialog with Confreres were the first moments of the visit.
Day Two, April 12. A visit to the Daughters of Charity community in the city of Tianjin. Fr. Tomaž and Fr. Matthew had a dialogue with the sisters and two confreres who are ministering in the area. The Eucharist followed in the church where sisters are ministering.
Day Three, April 13. Meeting with the “underground Church”. They visited a parish where one of the Confreres works. The parish belongs to so called “underground church”. Eucharist, very simple, not announced earlier was we celebrated with several parishioners attending it. Later, the guests had a meal with the family of one parishioner in his place. This visit was an opportunity to learn what a typical, rural underground church parish is like.
Day Four, April 14. The main activity of the day was a visit at the construction site of the future mission center of the Province. It will be a six-floor building where the formation center for lay and clergy a canonical house of the Chinese Province in mainland China is planned in the future. The Guests visited a local bishop, too.
Day Five, April 15. Sunday was the last day of the stay in the Mainland and a journey to Taiwan.
Day Six – Seven, April 16 – 17. The first activity in Taiwan was a visit to the east coast where Vincentians minister among indigenous Dawu people. They went to city of Jinlun-Taitung to visit the parish of St. Joseph. This is a beautiful shrine with a lot of pieces of local art and a chapel with perpetual adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. They met with parishioners and had lunch together. Later they move to another town of Dawu to celebrate the Mass and bless the cornerstone of the building soon to be built.
Day Eight, April 18. The visitors from Rome moved moved to the south of the island to the town of Kaohsiung. Confreres run several ministries there. Parishioners cordially welcomed them for the celebration of Eucharist.
Day Nine, April 19. A visit in the town of Tainan. Fr. Tomaž met Confreres living there and representatives of other groups of the Vincentian Family. At first they paid courtesy visit to Msgr Lin, the bishop of the Diocese of Tainan. Next, they visited a nursing home run by the Daughters of Charity and celebrated the Eucharist together with parishioners and members of the Vincentian Family.
Day Ten, April 20. The Guests moved back to Yunlin and they visited Saint Vincent High School in She Hu. The students welcomed them with special presentations. Chinese confreres established this school to provide education to young people from rural and poor families in the area.
Day Eleven, April 21. Back in Taipei. Staying in the community house was the final part of the visitation. Confreres organized a simple Mass as opening of the visit in the house.
Joined APVC and CCC meeting. Superior General and to Assistants General, Fr. Matthew Kallamakal and Fr. Miles Heinen took part in the joined meetings of APVC – Asia-Pacific Visitors Conference and Commission on Culture and Charism (CCC) held in Taipei, Taiwan, April 22 and 25.
On Sunday, April 22, Provincials of Asia-Pacific Visitors Conference (APVC) and delegates of Commission on Charism and Culture (CCC) were welcomed by parishioners and members of the Vincentian Family for the Eucharist in Shilin Church, Taipei. Msgr. John Hong, the Archbishop of Taipei chaired the liturgy.
On Monday, April 23, Superior General took part in the joined meetings of APVC – Asia-Pacific Visitors Conference and Commission on Culture and Charism (CCC) held in Taipei, Taiwan. Fr. Tomaž shared with participants some initiatives undertaken by the Curia. He expressed his expectations of what APVC should do in next 3 years, namely the opening of 3-4 new missions in Asia. Later APVC members continued discussion on other matters and CCC had their separate meeting
On Wednesday, April 25 Superior General visited St. Anne’s House in Taipei where he met with delegates from various branches of the Vincentian Family. They talked about their organizations and ministries. He also visited children who have been living in this institution.