If I had to summarise with a single word what I had just experienced in the Scholastics and Brothers Circle workshop in Taiwan from December 15 to 24, I would say “richness”. In the 10 days during which we, scholastics and brothers in formation, lived together in Taiwan, we had the wonderful opportunity to discover the resources and the challenges of the Chinese Province of the Society of Jesus, and to reflect on the ministry to the indigenous people and to experience it. This richness is for me especially expressed in the relationships and friendships that we were able to build during those days, both among us Jesuits and with the people that we met in our experiences there.
Two kinds of encounters have been particularly meaningful for me. First of all, the amazing reality to be part of such a multicultural group of scholastics and brothers coming from different countries in Asia. I am enjoying this wonderful opportunity of studying theology in Manila and living as the only European in Arrupe International Residence. I embrace it along with all the challenges that are connected to it. I feel grateful and enriched by this encounter that is deeply helping my human and spiritual growth, and that is gradually opening my mind to different approaches and worldviews.
I think that one of the most crucial contributions that our international Jesuit formation can offer us is the possibility to widen our perspectives, and the fact that, in experiencing this, we can become ourselves agents of intercultural dialogue, against the temptation of nationalism and fear of the “other” that particularly afflicts the world in this time.
Second, I was amazed by the encounter with indigenous people during our three-day exposure in the mountains of Taiwan. As a “westerner”, I never before had the opportunity to meet indigenous cultures. This kind of encounter helped me to have a wider picture of the cultural and human variety of this part of the world. Together with my small group, we were accompanied for our exposure by Fr Olivier Lardinois SJ to the small village of Nalua. We had the opportunity to share a little bit in the daily work of many indigenous people, either working in the fields with them, or helping them in packing vegetables, to hear their stories, to visit the schools of their village, where children are taught their traditional language and their tribal music and traditions.
Coming back to Taipei for our common sharing and reflection, I felt particularly grateful for having experienced how God comes and incarnates in all the variety and richness of cultures and lives. At the end of our meeting, many of us celebrated together the Christmas Vigil Mass. Particularly this year, after all these encounters, I was happy to find in the face of the newborn Son of God the richness of the faces and of the cultures that more and more I am discovering here in Asia.
Cesare Gabriele Sposetti SJ is a scholastic from Italy on his second year of theology at the Loyola School of Theology in Manila. He lives with 44 other formands from Asia and Africa in Arrupe International Residence.