COLUMBAN HISTORY IN TAIWAN
The first team of five Columbans arrived in Taiwan in 1978. Fr. lvar
McGrath had been in Taiwan working in the international English speaking
parish for many years prior to this. Taiwan forms a Mission Unit rather
than a Region because of the small number of priests and lay missionaries
involved there. At present there are 7 priests and 4 lay missionaries
attached to the mission unit.
Changing Pattern of Missionary Outreach
From the beginning, the Columbans were involved in parish and workers'
apostolates. Lay missionaries were also involved in this work. As numbers
increased new forms of ministry were undertaken.
Day schools for mentally impaired children (a marginalized group in an
industrialized society) were established in two parishes. A lay missionary
works at one of the centers. Substance abuse and crime among the young
is rapidly increasing. One Columban and a lay missionary work in youth
prison ministry. Another Columban works with homeless children.
Taiwan is a highly industrialized country. There are about 130,000 foreign
laborers in Taiwan from South East Asian countries (Thailand, Indonesia,
Philippines and Malaysia). Working conditions are poor and two Columbans,
with the help of local Taiwanese, minister in this area. They formed two
Workers' Centers. The main emphasis of this apostolate is Union formation,
labor education and analysis of working conditions. A Columban was expelled
by the Taiwanese Government for this work in March 1989. Columbans work
with local and migrant workers in the Hsin Chu diocese and staff a migrant
center at the International English-speaking parish in Taipei since 1992.
We work with Thai Buddhist monks to help Thai workers.
Apostolate among the Indigenous Peoples
The nine tribes of Indigenous Peoples are the most disadvantaged group
in Taiwan. They fear the destruction of their culture in the face of Taiwan's
emphasis on industrial development. Columban priests and lay missionaries
work among the Atayal Tribe in the mountain district and with the Indigenous
Peoples from several different tribes who have moved to the lowland.
12 Step Spirituality
One Columban works in this apostolate, which seeks both to directly alleviate
the social ills arising from drug addiction and to indicate the root causes
of the addiction.