Taipei (AsiaNews) - A point of reference for many Catholics in Taipei, this is how Fr. John (饶志成 神父) defines the Holy Family (圣 家 堂), the church of which he is pastor, and which in 2012 celebrated the 60th anniversary of its founding. A year full of events for the largest Catholic place of worship in Taiwan: every week at least 1,500 worshipers participated at Mass in Mandarin, English and Taiwanese. Next to the Holy Family, now stands the mosque of Taipei.
Since its founding, the story of the parish is one of "collaboration." "In 1952 - says Fr. John - three priests, two Canadians and an Italian, bought a piece of land on the outskirts of the city, an area now considered central Taipei. Unable to decide which patron to dedicate their church to , legend has it that one night, they wondered which saint they were most devoted to. " Fr. Ouimet (魏 神父) named St. Joseph, "because my father was a carpenter and hard working." Fr. Bégin (冉 神父) proposed to dedicate the church to Our Lady, saying: "I entrust myself in times of trouble to the rosary." Fr. Naldini (南 神父) was devoted to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Thus, explains the current pastor, "the three chose the Holy Family.
In late December, the celebrations for the 60th anniversary ended with a Mass presided by Archbishop John Hung Shan-chuan (洪山川 总 主教), with Msgr. Joseph Ti-Kang (狄 刚 总 主教), Archbishop Emeritus of Taipei. "It is important - said Msgr. Hung in his homily - to continue building community, and the Lord through us." During the liturgy, 28 couples renewed their wedding vows, celebrating various stages of life together, from 10 to 55 years.
More than 500 people attended the final dinner. But the parish did not forget to share with those who are in difficult economic times, collecting donations for the poor of the neighborhood: "First those in need, then repairs to the building," reiterated Fr. John who admired the stained glass from Belgium and maintenance costs.
Fr. John is the 12th pastor of Holy Family. "On Christmas Eve - he says - we had three masses. One of the 20 held in Chinese, it was attended by 1300 people. It was animated by the presence of children who in the beginning brought the baby Jesus to the altar. TVBS television, Taiwan's most important network, filmed the liturgy, the day after, many Taiwanese were able to discover how Christians celebrated Christmas. " In addition to masses in Chinese, the priest adds, "22 were celebrated one in English, aimed primarily at Catholic immigrants. Midnight mass was attended by many non-Christians: this touched us deeply, because it shows how people praying together attract those who thirst for spirituality. "
For the Holy Family, 2012 was an important year also looking to new generations. "At Easter - explains Fr. John - we celebrated 68 baptisms. This reminds us of the message of life and hope that the Gospel continues to offer to people today, and we hope that this is the deep impression that our parish at the heart of Taipei is able to communicate. "