Je­suit priests hon­ored for decades of de­vo­tion to Tai­wan

The China Post - - LOCAL -

Two Je­suit priests re­ceived Plum Blos­som Cards from the Na­tional Im­mi­gra­tion Agency on Mon­day, giv­ing them per­ma­nent res­i­dent sta­tus in Tai­wan in recog­ni­tion of their self­less love and de­vo­tion to the coun­try over the past decade.

The two priests — Barry Martin­son from the United States and Yves Nalet from France — have worked many years in the moun­tain­ous ar­eas of Hs­inchu County in North­ern Tai­wan.

Res­i­dents of the moun­tain­ous com­mu­ni­ties in Jian­shih and Wufeng town­ships in the county do not have much ma­te­ri­ally, but their faith has be­come a source of strength, and many who grew up go­ing to church in the vil­lages said they have been deeply in­flu­enced by the priests.

“They have not only brought reli­gion, but strength, which al­lows you to be­lieve that love changes ev­ery­thing,” one parish­ioner said.

Martin­son, from Cal­i­for­nia, came to work with the Chingchuan tribe in Wufeng Town­ship 41 years ago and ini­tially felt lonely and had no friends.

“I wanted to leave and go back to my home­town,” he re­called.

He called his mother for ad­vice, and she en­cour­aged him to stay on for at least a year, which has now turned into 41 years.

He dis­cov­ered that many vil­lage chil­dren could not go to nurs­ery school be­cause their par­ents couldn’t af­ford it, so he founded Sa­cred Heart Nurs­ery School 12 years ago to help par­ents take care of their young.

Sev­eral years ago, he turned a co-op­er­a­tive into a youth cul­tural cen­ter, teach­ing Atayal peo­ple English and fine arts, all of which has earned Martin­son the nick­name “Papa Ting” among town­ship res­i­dents.

Fa­ther Nalet has been preach­ing in Jian­shih Town­ship for 21 years, and has helped honey peach grow­ers mar­ket their fruits to help them im­prove their lives.

He has also helped im­pov­er­ished ju­nior high school stu­dents get an ed­u­ca­tion, driv­ing stu­dents down from the moun­tains each week to re­ceive as­sis­tance in their school­ing, and then driv­ing them back to their homes in the moun­tains.

Though he speaks English with a strong French ac­cent, that has not stopped the vil­lage’s chil­dren from im­prov­ing their English skills.

He also asked the chil­dren to pro­mote their tribe in English and let tourists see the ef­forts they have made.

The 70- year- old fa­ther, who al­ways wears a smile on his face, said the living con­di­tions in the abo­rig­i­nal vil­lage are not good, but the peo­ple are happy and con­tent.

They are op­ti­mistic and love na­ture, traits, he said, that are very close to his heart.

CNA

Pedes­tri­ans are caught in a down­pour in Taipei City, yes­ter­day. Sev­eral dis­tricts in North­ern Tai­wan re­ported mi­nor in­ci­dents caused by the strong tor­ren­tial thun­der­storm on Sun­day af­ter­noon.

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