1993 / 7月
社會在變、人的價值觀也變了，今天在山地傳教不如從前順利；神父的「轄區」之一——「新美」教室，前不久又因火災化為烏有，神父不時深鎖眉頭，為籌錢蓋新教堂而傷神。然而寡言的他很少抱怨，只是以法語「CEST LA VIE（這就是生活）」一句話，為他的工作下註腳。
Nicholas Fan /photos courtesy of Nicholas Fan /tr. by Nancy Du
After completing the 1991 photography project "My People" in mainland China, I began taking pictures of priests of foreign descent living in Taiwan. A Catholic since childhood, l had always been fascinated by these missionaries from afar--what force propelled them to leave everything they were familiar with and embark on a journey to an unknown land to spread the word of God? Some of these fathers left their native country to live indefinitely, ultimately to die in China and never to return home again. Most of the missionaries I came in contact with had lived in Taiwan for over thirty years. Some people have overly romantic ideas about priests as being holier than thou, but to me, they were just themselves--of flesh and blood, ordinary men no different from you and I.Anton Weber SVD 1937 Germany
Since Father Weber's arrival in Taiwan thirty years ago, he has worked in Alishan Hsiang in Chiayi. In those days the road leading around the mountain did not take one very far. Neither were water and electricity supplies readily available in these mountainous regions. Father Weber often had to wade rivers and cross mountains in the dark with a torchlight guiding him from stop to stop as he preached in the different villages.
Society has changed; people's values have also changed. Today, spreading the word is no longer as easy as it was before. A part of Father Weber's "turf"--Hsinmei Church--burnt down to ashes not long ago. Father Weber locks his brows in worry at where he will get the funds to rebuild a new church. But this man of few words complains little. "C'est la vie." (That's Life) is his only remark for all his hard work.Bartley Schmitz SVD 1918 USA.
Father Schmitz hails from Montana in the United States. His greatest dream since childhood has been to preach in China. As a child, he firmly believed in his father's saying, "Just dig a hole in the ground and you can slide to China." Having grown up since then, he did not dig a hole, but crossed half the globe by air and sea to arrive at Shianghai and Beijing. After the war, he came to Taiwan. He founded Kenghs in Hospital in Hsintien, Taipei.
"Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth."
The superior of the old father once described him as "one who possessed the best of intentions but accomplished nothing." Upon hearing these remarks, Father Schmitz is not at all offended. He bursts into laughter and replies, "The first part of the remark I'm not so sure about but the latter part is in complete honesty and right on target."Camillus Scharf SVD 1902-1992 Germany
After devoting his services for close to half a century in China, the old brother from Germany was summoned by the Lord Almighty to reside in the heavens at the ripe old age of 90.
Prior to his death, Brothe Scharf practiced a style of martial arts he had devised himself. Time did not leave its scars on the old brother who saw himself as an "Ironman." He believed he would live to be a hundred.
But the Lord often works in mysterious ways. Last Spring, on the night the old brother departed from this world, the clock stopped at exactly 11:57. The merciful saviour did not allow him to stay another day.Julius Felder SMB 1933 Switzerland.
When Brother Felder smiles, his face lights up like a Hollywood movie star. It is a pity he seldom takes the time to smile.
It could be because he possesses the temperament of an artist stuck on perfection. If something fails to meet with his set of standards, he is gloomy and miserable and will not utter one word. His artistic temperament does have its roots. He is, in fact, an outstanding architect.
The beautiful churches he designed can often be sighted along the coast from Hualien to Taitung. He not only designs; he is also a laborer and supervisor; Brother Felder has a hand in everything.Augustine Buehel SMB 1936 Switzerland
Brother Buchel has lived in the eastern parts of Taiwan for over 30 years. As he was born in the mountainous regions of Switzerland, he is an avid mountain climber. Most of the mountains and hills in Taiwan bear his tracks. In addition, he has also been awarded a government approved Mountain Guide License.
If you question him on what has been the greatest change in his life all these years in Taiwan, he will reply in self-mockery that the young fellow with a thick mop of hair 30 years ago is today bald and not as dashing as before.Josef Eugster SMB 1940 Switzerland
Father Josef Eugster name rings loud and clear to the people of Taiwan. He is renowned islandwide.
Father Eugster working in Changbin Hsiang, Taitung, is the one and only founder of the "Foot Massage" fever that swept throught the country some years ago.
It is said that the original edition of his book on foot massage alone sold millions of copies--not to mention how the pirated copies did.
This father from the country, who looks like the exact replica of Mickey Mouse after he takes off his glasses, lacks business sense.
He neither signed a contract with the publishing house, nor took a cent for his written work. He only asked for two thousand copies of his book and handed over a significant sum of royalties.
Although foot massage advertisements have sprung forth from every corner, the "true blue" father is not alone. People from far and near still continue to flock to the "miracle healer" in the country.Dominik Steiner SMB 1916 Switzerland
Father Steiner has devoted his services to Yiwan in Taitung. He is now77 years old. In spite of his age, Father Steiner still enjoys working the fields with his hoe. It is said that Father Steiner has a sister who worships the ground that he walks on. Visitors to her home never cease to be amazed by the wall that is covered from top to bottom with photographs of her beloved brother.
His superior once told me laughingly, if you plan to visit him, always call in advance, or "you're very likely to find an old man working away in the hot sun, perspiring like crazy and skimpily dressed."Gyorgy Csaszar SJ Hungary
Brother Csaszar is Hungarian. He is now working at Budai Hsiang in Chiayi. When asked about his faraway home Budapest, Brother Csaszar, like the old Mainland Chinese veteran soldiers in Taiwan, has had to wait for the homeland to undergo reform before returning. Since the war, Brother Csaszar has continued to hold a Cold War passport from the Republic of China that forbids contacts with communist countries.
The old brother likes to help people.
In the past he would collect old clothes from abroad to give to the needy here.
Today, he collects old clothes here and assists the needy abroad. In this day and age, the only thing that discourages the old brother is, "They want new things, not old!"Paul Ricklin SMB 1936 Switzerland
Father Ricklin has devoted his services to Taima Lin Taitung County. He is a no-nonsense, quiet man who will not use two words when one will do. If there was such a thing as half-a-word in this world, he would be a happier man. I took his picture in the afternoon; the sun was scorching and bugs buzzed all around him. He sat with patience in his chair quietly accepting the probing of my lens.
Before I left, I asked him, "Will you remember me in prayer?"
He smiled, and answered simply, "Let's just remember this afternoon!"