The Period of 1959 – 1962 (1)

This period should have begun with the election of Fr. Schuette as Superior General, since starting with his administration there is clear and positive mission planning for the Formosa mission. For this his letter of June 20, 1958 is programmatic. But there are more advantages to start this period in 1959: 1.) since on Feb 16, 1959 the China Region was established, 2.) new initiatives were taken to take over their own mission territory, 3.) new missionaries opened up the circle of the “Three Wise Men”. A new mission era began for the SVD missionaries in Formosa.

The Society not only provided its missionaries, but also pursued its own goals in the pastoral mission work and in education. New missionaries were sent to Formosa, and the Society was also prepared to provide the financial means, although in the first years still quite limited. It is probably correct to say, that the sharp turn of the Generalate in the question of Formosa not only can be ascribed to Fr. General Schuette himself but also to the expansion of the General Chapter. In a circular letter of Feb 18, 1959 to all provincials and regionals of the Society Fr. General communicated: “The General Council has in its session of Feb 16 of this year made the decision, to include our former Chinese regions of Taikia, Kaomi, Wuwei, South Henan and North Henan, and further the Catholic University in Peking, Hong Kong and Formosa all in one Region under the name of “China Region”. All confreres in China Mainland, in Hong Kong and in Formosa belong to this Region.”

Fr. Krieftewirth became the first Regional. Fr General then writes: “In the same session the Genera Council has decided, that all China missionaries outside the present China Region will be assigned to those territories, where they now are working, but under one condition that the new China Region will have a certain right to their engagement, in case they would be needed.” In another letter of Feb 24, 1959 Fr. General immediately procured big financial help. He writes to Regional Fr. Krieftewirth: “The money transferred is for the new China Region, i.e. basically for Formosa and for the tasks which have been or will be undertaken there. The Sisters are therefore not excluded. I already have given you permission to spend up to $ 10.000 for the further expansion of the Sisters convent; but under the condition that it stays property of the SVD.”

Further news about the so-called China Fund would be forthcoming. The Regional did not receive news about the entire disposable moneys. But in a conference of China mission superiors in Steyl in the week of Pentecost 1958 they had decided to give 1/10 of their funds to the mission in Formosa. General Assistant Fr. Spreti, who took care of the execution of this decision, mentioned on Dec 17, 1958 to Fr. Striethorst, procurator in Hong Kong, that US$ 29.280,87 were transferred to the Region-Formosa-Account 2. Fr. Striethorst got the instruction that he with the permission of the Generalate could dispose of this Formosa account.

In the same letter Fr. General asks Fr. Krieftewirth to negotiate with Bishop Niu about taking over a mission territory. Fr. General also encourages the Regional to attract new mission personnel to Formosa. He writes: “I would recommend that you yourself become active as Regional and  invite other confreres to come and work in Formosa.” Soon a letter of the Regional was sent out to all former China missionaries, inviting them to come back to Formosa. Of course, it was impossible to find work for all of them, especially since many had already found a new home in other SVD mission territories. But in the course of 1959 Fr. Pott came from Switzerland, Fr. Frisch from Berlin, Fr. Kolanczyk and Theis from Germany, Fr. Irsigler from Indonesia, Fr. Chu and Chen from the Philippines and Fr. Meiners coming from Australia. The Region acquired a regional house in Tingliu, and Christmas 1959 the old missionaries arrived, to get acquainted with the Formosan language. The canonical recognition of the Regional House in Tingliu came into force on Juli 21, 1960 (cf. letter of General Councilor Fr. Jacob of July 25, 1960).