The Spiritan presence in Asia was already being felt in the mid-eighteenth century when foreign missionary graduates of the Seminaire du Saint-Esprit in Paris were working in China and Cambodia. Subsequent Spiritan missionary emphasis was on Africa, South America, and the Caribbean, but the General Chapter of Itaici revived interest in Asia in 1992.
After extensive research, urgent preparations took place in 1997. Two Spiritan teams were in place by 1998, one in the diocese of Iligan, Philippines, and one in the diocese of Hsinchu, Taiwan. Today, there is also a Spiritan presence in Vietnam.
Only beginning the Spiritan mission in 1997, there are almost a dozen Spiritan confreres in Taiwan in parishes in the dioceses of Hsinchu and Taichung. Spiritans appointed to Taiwan start by learning Mandarin Chinese for two years. They serve as parish priests for the local migrant communities from China and Vietnam, help in the orphanages and with other charities, offer community masses, and counsel married and engaged couples. The Spiritans also in Taiwan offer a Vietnam
children’s education sponsorship program, and through a local university, an International Volunteer Students program to Tanzania and Sierra Leone. Highlighting the universal dimension of the Catholic Church and giving witness to intercultural community living are an important part of Spiritan mission wherever we work.
In 2009 the two first Filipino Spiritans moved to Quezon City in metropolitan Manila, accompanied by Fr. Daniel, as their formator. They moved into the house that would become the UCEAS’ Formation Community House, situated on over 980 square meters of green land. Thanks in a very large part to local friends, they were able to furnish the house and organize there. Currently, students from Vietnam, the Philippines, soon from Indi are studying nearby at the Loyola School of Theology and Maryhill School of Theology. There is a building project to build a new formation house on the same land that will house twenty seminarians with room for growth in the future.
The Spiritan mission to Vietnam began in September 2007 with the arrival in Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon) of three Spiritan missionaries. They were sent by the General Council of the Congregation to carry out missionary work there but also to establish a foundation of the Congregation. Because of the special political situation of the country it was and is not possible to carry out missionary work in the traditional sense so the four Spiritans currently assigned to Vietnam have had to adapt their approach working in non-traditional ministries. Despite these challenges, or perhaps because of the radical witness of proclaiming the Good News in difficult situations, the Spiritan seminary program in Vietnam is flourishing and currently has almost thirty students in various stages of formation.