Fu Jen Catholic University, Taipei. Every Tuesday afternoon at five thirty, in the centre assigned for spiritual assistance at the Faculty of Languages, a small group of students gets together with us priests for a meeting in which we talk about our lives. Afterwards we always go out to dinner in one of the many restaurants close to the University. It is thanks to these meetings that about three years ago we met Rosalia.
Taiwanese and coming from a Taoist family, Rosalia took this name while studying Spanish at the Catholic University. From the beginning Rosalia never participated directly in our meetings. She worked for the Spiritual Assistance centre, and while we were singing and discussing, she would over hear everything from her work station. She was always happy to see us. One time after the meeting I invited her to join us for supper. She smiled and said: “Today, I am not available but next time I will certainly come”. And the next time she came. And not only did she come by herself, but she brought along her friend Patricia, a colleague who had been baptized a few years earlier and who has a degree in French.
A short time afterwards, Rosalia expressed the desire to be baptized. Following a period of catechesis, during which she was accompanied faithfully by her friend Patricia, she received the sacrament of baptism during Mass on Christmas eve at our Saint Francis Xavier parish in Taishan. It was given: Patricia was the godmother.
After the summer, I met Rosalia at the University, where she came to see her friend Patricia. Soon after Patricia told me: “Shen Fu (Father), Rosalia would like to get married within a year, but she does not want to have it celebrated it in the Church, please speak to her”. I asked Rosalia if her non Catholic fiancé did not want to get married in the Church. She responded to me saying that the reason had to do with their financial situation. They were thinking about moving to Australia, where Mike, her future husband, was finishing up a doctorate: “we want to get married civilly and put off the celebrations and festivities for a few years”. I replied: “getting married in the Church is about getting married in front of God, it has nothing to do with money nor with celebrations or festivities. If you want, I can marry you guys in my parish office. What is important is that you desire to entrust your love to God”. “If it’s this way, then it is fantastic”, she responded to me. In this I invited her to the marriage preparation course.
Rosalia is very intelligent. During the course she understood everything very quickly (even in spite of my poor Chinese) and asked pertinent questions. One time while speaking about being open to children, she told me: “Shen Fu, I am not sure if we want to have children because there is a possibility that they could inherit my disease”. I remained speechless for a second, looked her in the eyes and asked: “are you happy to be alive, to be in the world, even despite your illness?”. Moved by her affirmative response, I continued: “I am also very happy that you are alive, and I will be very happy to meet your children”.
On the 28th of March, the first Saturday following Easter, Rosalia and Mike were married in Taishan and the festivities follower: there were white Easter orchids and songs from our band. The refreshments were offered by the parish. At the beginning of May, the newly wedded couple moved to Australia. On the 22nd of that month Rosalia wrote to me: Dear An Shen Fu, here in Australia it is winter, it is very cold and every day I have to buy the groceries and prepare the meals. At home, my mother and father took care of all of this. My husband is awaiting the results of his thesis and his work visa which will enable him to begin to work. I do not know what the future will entail but I want to entrust it all to God”.
In the picture, Emanuele Angiola with the young married couple from the parish of Saint Francis Xavier in Taishan (Taipei).
So far away, Emilia. She comes from Taiwan and graduated with a degree in Italian language from the Catholic University of Fu Jen in June of 2013. So close, Emilia: since 2010 she has been going to the School of Community that meets at Catholic University. About Fr. Giussani, whom she has met through his writings, she has this to say: “We are together because of him.” In 2013, during the Easter vigil, she was baptized.
When did you meet Communion and Liberation?
Three years ago. I saw a few pictures on Facebook of some of my classmates from my Italian courses with you in Italy at the Meeting of Rimini. I looked for more information online and I found a calendar of CL activities. Among the various events, there was a weekly School of Community. I came. I was nervous and didn’t know anyone, but everyone treated me kindly. From then on I haven’t missed a single meeting.
What was it that attracted you?
The friendship. I’ve always had a lot of friends, but they were superficial relationships: we would talk about the latest film, about a new purse, about such and such who was now going out with such and such. A fun night out, a few laughs, but it would always end there. But in the friendships within the movement I discovered that I could be myself, I could speak about true experiences and learn from others.
When did you consider being baptized?
Nobody ever directly brought it up, but we talked a lot about God, about Jesus. I still didn’t know Him, but I knew that in some way He was waiting for me. I clearly remember the day that you asked me if I wanted to come to catechism lessons. I said yes. The next Saturday afternoon, after charitable work at the parish in Tai Shan, where I was teaching English to the children, I began Catechism, with Lele and with you. Three events that quickly became one: charitable work, the place where I learned to give something of myself; catechism, where I received; School of Community, where I shared life with others.
When did you first hear about Fr. Giussani?
In Fu Jen, with that group of students, we would read his book, The Religious Sense. It was an interesting read: Giussani uses examples taken from his experience and he makes you understand things that, on your own, you wouldn’t otherwise understand. Then there was the time we read Traces of a Christian Experience or The Meaning of Charitable Work. There were the Christmas and Easter posters. Recently they asked me to translate parts of a video on Giussani and two texts about the Fraternity of CL. I was struck by a sentence Giussani said May 30th 1998: “The true protagonist of History is the beggar, or rather, the heart of man begging for Christ and Christ begging for the heart of man.” I had thought of Jesus as a king, an omnipotent God, not as a beggar. Then I understood. Jesus is the one who was waiting for me. While I was searching for Him, He was waiting for me.
What surprises you today in the experience of CL?
I’ve always been struck by beauty, the beauty of the songs, of the images, the beauty of our friendship. Ever since I’ve been living this experience, the world for me is a large home where every person I meet is a brother, a sister.
Whenever someone from CL comes to Taiwan, it’s like meeting an old friend. In 2011 I was in Italy, in Rome. You told me I should go visit the sisters in a suburb called La Magliana. When I got to their house I rang the doorbell, but nobody answered. I was about to leave when I saw two young women. I thought they must be students, but instead they were novices. I told them I was a friend of Don Paolo and Don Lele, so we stopped and chatted for quite a while. Then we started singing, because in CL we always sing. In the end, I taught them a song in Chinese: when they wrote out the transliteration I was brought to tears of joy.
What do you think about Fr. Giussani today?
He was someone who sought beauty; we are together because of him. Because of him you became priests and came Taiwan. Whenever I would come across words that were difficult to translate, Lele would say to me, “Pray that Fr. Giussani would help you from heaven.” I think of him as a person who is alive. If I were to meet him today I would kiss his hands and thank him. If it weren’t for him, there would be no CL, and without CL, I wouldn’t have been baptized, and without baptism, I wouldn’t be happy like I am now.