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2014-07-01

ASIA/TAIWAN - Half a century at the service of the Church and of society, and religious institutes look to the future

Tai Pei (Agenzia Fides) - The celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Union of Superiors of Religious Women Institutes in Taiwan was the occasion to better look at the biggest problems that religious institutes active in the island today are faced with and to prepare for the Year of Consecrated Life, which will begin in the whole Church on November 30, with renewed missionary zeal. According to information sent to Fides Agency, women congregations in Taiwan associated to the Union increased from 28 in 1964 to the current 59. And all the superiors areTaiwanese. With regard to religious institutes for men, who were also present at the meeting held recently, the superiors are half Taiwanese and half foreigners, but still rooted in the culture and the local environment.
Religious institutes in Taiwan have always been dedicated primarily to education, health care and social service, and today are facing numerous problems related to social changes, which were analyzed during the meeting.
What was highlighted was that the lack of vocations to consecrated life has been determined among other things by the collapse of birthrate and aging society, as well as by the increase in mixed marriages. Religious institutes have founded many schools, but today many do not enroll, so the religious are thinking of using these buildings as homes for the elderly or for other types of social service. To promote vocational journey, on the occasion of the Year of Consecrated Life, the Theological Institute of Fu Ren Catholic University will organize a study Seminar in March 2015 dedicated to consecrated life.
According to the statistics of the last Catholic Church Directory Taiwan 2012, published by the Regional Episcopal Conference of Taiwan, 407 are religious men in Taiwan, 1,033 religious women. The Catholic community (mainly due to religious institutes for men and women) manages: 6 universities with 57 702 students, 2 professional schools with 2,972 enrolled, 30 middle schools with 59,264 students, 11 elementary schools with 7,707 pupils, 155 kindergartens with 12. 840 children; 10 hospitals, 6 clinics, 21 homes for the elderly. (NZ) (Agenzia Fides 01/07/2014)

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