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ROMAN CATHOLIC MISSIONARY SISTERS OF THE SACRED HEART OF JESUS


In 1930’s many missionaries from Europe and America were sent out to China for evangelization, a land that God loves. After the civil war in China, the government was replaced and missionaries were transferred to Taiwan.
Among these who left China were Maryknoll Missioners (MM) who prioritized to serve the Chinese. In 1951, Pope Pius XII appointed Fr. William F. Kupfer, M.M., to take charge of the newly established Apostolic Prefecture of Taichung governing Taichung Hsien, Taichung City, Changhua Hsien and Nantou Hsien. Meanwhile, the Hungarian Daughters of Charity (DC) who envisioned imprinting the image of Jesus in the hearts of the Chinese arrived in Hong Kong after they had left China and there in the refuge camp in Hong Kong they met—Most Rev. William F. Kupfer and the Hungarian Daughters of Charity, the encounter of whom started the story. Most Rev. William F. Kupfer invited the Sisters to the democratic country –Taiwan to evangelize in Tienchung, Lotsu and Chushan, working hand in hand for the newly founded local Church—Apostolic Prefecture of Taichung.

While the Daughters of Charity worked in Taiwan, they helped many girls to know the faith and believe in God; some of them were even willing to follow their footsteps to devote themselves to the service of the Church, yet due to the shortage of funds, the Hungarian Sisters could not form them.
 

FOUNDATION OF THE CONGREGATION
Most Rev. William F. Kupfer realized to ensure the success of evangelization language is a necessary requirement so he opened a Maryknoll Language Service Center for American missionaries. He also thought it a big help that a local language speaking religious congregation could join the mission. Therefore, Most Rev. William F. Kupfer prayed and prayed; he gained the promise from the Hungarian Daughters of Charity to help in formation until the local Sisters could stand on their own. In 1952, the first local religious
community of women in Taiwan was founded.

In1960, Most Rev. William F. Kupfer decreed the establishment of the Congregation of Roman Catholic Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus as follows:

Nos, Gulielmus F. Kupfer, Divina miseratione et Apostolicae Sedis Praefectus Apostolicus Taichungensis,
Ad majorem Dei gloriam, ad Sanctificationem membrorum Instituti et ad propaganda fidem,
Licentia a Sancta Congregatione de Propaganda Fide Obtenta, decreto hoc erigimus
Congregationem Religiosarum juris diocesani sub nominee Congregationis Sororum Sacri Cordis Jesu de Taichung,
Precamur ut Congregatio haec, Deo Adjuvante crescat et florescat!
Datum in Taichung, Die prima mensis maji Anni Domini 1960

(English: Filed in Sacra Congregatio de Propaganda Fide (now Congregatio pro Gentium Evandelizatione)and approved by the Apostolic Prefect of Taichung,the diocesan Congregation of Roman Catholic Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus,the Constitution of which is ratified,is the first women religious congregation founded in Taiwan;it aims to glorify God, sanctify the members and preach the Good News.
Any young girl who wishes to devote herself to this vision and mission is most welcomed.
Let us pray to the Lord for abundant blessings upon this Congregation that it may develop and flourishin the years to come.)

Before and after the decree, there were a multitude of catechumens so Most Rev. William F. Kupfer dispatched the first batch of professed Sisters to Chushan and Peitou parishes which were governed under Maryknoll Missioners. The name “Tienchung Sisters” was thus spread out and more and more candidates were coming to join the Congregation. Consequently, the old house couldn’t accommodate them anymore. Most Rev. William F. Kupfer therefore bought a land adjacent to the Catholic Church to build the Mother House of the Congregation.

In 1962, Apostolic Prefecture of Taichung was elevated to a diocese and the Holy Father appointed Most Rev. William F. Kupfer to be the first bishop of the diocese. In the same year the construction of the Mother House and the Novitiate of the Congregation was completed; a white building with a tower and a big crucifix stoutly stood along the railroad and became a landmark of the town Tienchung. God’s graces never left and the small
Congregation grew like a mustard seed.

 

 

OUR APOSTOLATE   
In the Mother House, after 2 years of novitiate formation, the Sisters professed their vows and were sent out on mission one batch after another to the parishes. We stayed in the tiny convent of the parish and went out by pairs or with another woman to visit the families of the faithful. In the living room, in the kitchen or in the yard we chatted casually with the women, about parenting, married life, relationships with mothers-in-law or sisters-in-law, harvest in the field, culture and custom, catechism of the Catholic Church, etc. A certain Mrs. Chen recounted, “Sisters are so compassionate that I can comfortably and easily disclose to them what’s deep inside of me.”
We gathered the active and enthusiastic women to care for the poor, the sick and the senile housing around the church, to catechize the catechumens, to enkindle the faith of the Catholics, to invite the parishioners to participate in the service of the church, to journey with the youth, to visit the families, to help the victims of calamities, to show concern to the young Christian workers and the elderly people.
 

Pastoral Ministry
From 1963 to 1974, the number of catechumens decreased radically and the practice of the faith also diminished. In 1970’s the sign of the time spurred Most Rev. William F. Kupfer to promote tirelessly in each parish the program of “Refreshing our Faith.” In July, 1970, at Manresa House (Chingshan Center of Spirituality) in Changhua, a catechistical seminar was launched for the Religious Sisters in Taichung Diocese in order to train the Sisters to be attuned with the pedagogy of catechesis so that they could be better disciples of Jesus to preach the Good News using modern methods. After the seminar, we toured to different parishes to implement the task of refreshing the faith.
In 1975, a manual entitled The Catholic Church Pastoral Council Training Program edited by Most Rev. William F. Kupfer was published to train the parishioners to collaborate with the parish priests to take responsibility of the church. The training mission led by Rev. Leonard McCabe was tackled by a group called “The Catholic Church Pastoral Council Formation Team” which was composed of our Sisters and some competent parishioners.
The team travelled around 41 parishes of the diocese, in each of which were given 14 weeks of formation course and afterwards each parish established the pastoral council to evangelize and support themselves, promoting a variety of service in conformity with the faith. At the same time, the team was invited by Hsinchu and Kaohsiung Dioceses to share the experiences and insights of campaigning for the pastoral council in the parish.

Our pastoral ministry started in 1956: in Taichung Diocese, our apostolate covered Peitou, Chushan, Houli, Hohsing, Tachia, Yuanlin, Fengyuan, Homei, Erhlin, Tungshih, Nantun, Chutang, Cathedral of Christ the Savior, Tsaotun, Puli, Meisi, Chungyuan, Wushe, Yungching, Chunghsing New Village, Erhshui; in 1986, it was extended to Kaohsiung: St. Vincent Ferrer Church, Holy Name of Jesus Church, Our Savior Church, St. Catherine of Siena Church; in Taipei Archdiocese, we served in Chinshan and Huai Jen Workers Center.
In 1977 Most Rev. William F. Kupfer assigned our Sisters to be in charge of Tsaotun Parish, which expanded the pastoral services that Sisters could offer. The economy in Taiwan in 1980’s climbed to its climax and many young people chose to work in cities so we included the service to the young Christian workers in our apostolate.
The foundation of ROMAN CATHOLIC MISSIONARY SISTES OF THE SACRED HEART OF JESUS is rooted in pastoral ministry. As time moved on, the Sisters’ apostolate multiplied; in the church we served the immigrants, the indigenous people, the Hakka people, the Fukienese, etc., and we developed towards education as well.

 

Education
In 1964, we opened a kindergarten and a nursery. Coordinating with Scheut (CICM) priests, we administered Yujen Elementary School in 1967 and Kuangjen Primary School in 1981. In 1969 we founded Holy Savior High School in Tienchung. In 1993 we were invited to join the faculty of St. Joseph School in Naga City, Philippines. In 1999 Holy Savior Community College was set up to offer life-long learning programs for adults. In Tien School of Nursing and Midwifery, Viator High School and St. Dominic High School, the Sisters advocated Life Education. We also participated in the formation of faith and vocation of the Catholic Church in Mainland China.

In 1970’s the Sisters gave speech therapy to the speech deficient children and started SPED program in Yujen Elementary School for children with special needs. In 1981, St. Coletta’s Training Center for Exceptional Youth was established to continue our SPED program to the adults with special needs. All these efforts were opening a window to let people know the care of the Catholic Church rendered to the marginalized and the least in the society.

Social Welfare
In the time of American aid, the Sisters distributed medicine for Graves-Basedow disease, which benefited about 5,000 people. In 1970 the Sisters entered Apostolic Nunciature to China to serve; in 1985 we took part in the work of Family Advisory, which tackled counseling for couples and offered courses of development in body, mind and spirit; in 1989 we sheltered the abused women referred by the government for their healing and recovery; we also joined the team of prison ministry and cared for the minors in detention, of which we received recognition and appreciation from the Ministry of Justice.

The Sisters in parishes exerted themselves to build basic communities of solid faith, forming and guiding the faithful to be the pillars of the church and called them into action out of zeal, bearing in mind that “The church is my family and I will love it.” In 1998 the Associate of ROMAN CATHOLIC MISSIONARY SISTERS OF THE SACRED HEART OF JESUS was founded, a support group to assist us in our apostolate and evangelization, working together to preach the love and mercy of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus. The training of the volunteers was given to deepen the commitment and service of the members of the Associate.

SPIRITUALITY AND TRADITION
In 1970’s the Catholic Church was standing in the intersection of old and new age after the Second Vatican Council. Most Rev. William F. Kupfer instructed the Sisters to reflect and adjust between conservatism and novelty. He enjoined the Sisters the following points as a direction for us in vocation, spirituality and apostolate: a) prayer, b) poverty, c) witness to Christ in words and in deeds, and  d) deep love for the Congregation.
In 1981, after 30 years of foundation, Most Rev. William F. Kupfer began to prepare the Congregation for independence, which required an aura of a local congregation as well as a wise and astute Superior General for governance. After 3 years of preparation, in 1984, Most Rev. William F. Kupfer convened the historical election and a local Sister, Sr. M. Gratia Shih, was voted to be the first Superior General. Most Rev. William F. Kupfer expressed his gratitude to Sr. M. Juventia Pakozdy for her hard work and contribution to this young Congregation; he encouraged the Sisters to be strong to stand on our own and he pointed out 3 essentials to the new Superior General and all the members for the development of the community:

  • That your prayer life is far more important than your busy apostolic activities;
  • That whatever you do should be done only for the good of the Church;
  • That whenever or wherever you are, be in solidarity with the Church and bear in mind the vision and mission of the Congregation.


In 1985, we gathered for the first General Assembly. With prayer and discernment of the sign of the time, all the Sisters formulated:

  • the vision of the Congregation, UT OMNES COGNOSCANT SALVATOREM MUNDI (That all may know the Savior of the world)
  • the goal of our spirituality, GRATIFYING THE SACRED HEART OF JESUS IN HUMILITY AND MEEKNESS
  • the four core values of our commitment, PRAYER, EVANGELICAL COUNSELS, COMMUNITY LIFE AND APOSTOLATE
  • the pledge of DAILY ADORATION OF THE BLESSED SACRAMENT FOR ONE HOUR

Beholding the pierced Sacred Heart of Jesus, the Sisters found the strength for apostolate and the path of spiritual tradition.
In 1985, in light of the spirit of the Second Vatican Council, a committee of Constitution Composition and Revision was organized to guide all the Sisters to study the documents of the Second Vatican Council, the Holy Scripture, the charism of our Founder and Foundress, the sign of the time and the need of the Church, and drew up the Constitution of the Congregation, which was approved by His Excellency, Most Rev. Joseph Wang Yu-Jung in 1989, to govern and enrich through the specific principles our consecrated life.
In 1999, in the POST-SYNODAL APOSTOLIC EXHORTATION ECCLESIA IN ASIA of the Holy Father JOHN PAUL II, Asian women’s contribution of love and service to the Church was affirmed; they brought the merciful Jesus, a healer and arbitrator, to people, especially to the poor and the marginalized. We Sisters, inspired by the exhortation, tried to live out the characteristics of feminine spirituality, to perceive profoundly the issues of the society in Taiwan and to always remember the Lord’s consoling words, “…the ocean of mercy opened up for the whole world…” Gazing daily with love on the crucified Lord and contemplating on His compassion for the sinners, the Sisters strive to treat one another with respect, always wearing smiles, forgiving one another, caring for the sick, the weak and the least, and gladly submitting oneself to authority.
 

LOOKING TO THE FUTURE
We Sisters have worked in coordination with the diocesan priests, the faithful and different religious congregations for 60 years. There are joys and tears. We thank God for the Providence; we are grateful for the guidance of the spiritual directors; we are indebted to the Maryknoll Fathers for their support; to the benefactors, we thank you for your help and to the co-workers, for cooperation.  All of these have helped mold ROMAN CATHOLIC MISSIONARY SISTERS OF THE SACRED HEART OF JESUS to become who we are today so we can keep witnessing to the mercy of Jesus in parishes, in the church and in the society.
In the modern history of China, God gathers the missionaries from Europe and America, who amazingly founded in Taiwan the most grass-rooted Congregation in the local Church, and accordingly fulfilled is the vision of Most Rev. William F. Kupfer and Sr. M. Juventia Pakozdy:

  • Behold the Pierced Christ;
  • Dwell in His Sacred Heart;
  • Stand firm in Tienchung;
  • Preach to all the nations.

For 60 years, we have been continuously responding to the call of Christ and reflecting on the challenges of the local church. The seed of Catholicism has been planted in Taiwan for 150 years. How shall the Sisters actively and effectively confront the challenges?
It is not a totally bright and flowery panorama that awaits the Sisters in the 21st century; on the contrary, more are the uncontrollable changes, chaotic voices and confusing footsteps. It is a crisis yet an opportunity as well facing many changes in the new age.
We ROMAN CATHOLIC MISSIONARY SISTERS OF THE SACRED HEART OF JESUS need to sincerely sanctify ourselves and update our mission so that our fellow people can recognize the Savior of the world—Jesus Christ—through our apostolate of love and service. As an itinerant Sister who tells stories, we travel all over Taiwan and even to the ends of the earth just to preach the Good News so that the Savior of the world can incarnate in the places where the Sisters stay and serve. This is the guidepost, facing the fact that Catholicism has been in Taiwan for 150 years, that we should exert more efforts to make it a reality “UT OMNES COGNOSCANT SALVATOREM MUNDI.”