Taipei City awards six Belgians for charity work

Staff writer, with CNA

Tue, Dec 18, 2012 - Page 4

The Taipei City Government yesterday honored six Belgian priests and nuns who have devoted themselves for decades to helping Taiwanese in recognition of their contributions to society.

“I would like to offer my utmost gratitude and respect for their generous and benevolent service in Taiwan,” Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) said at the awards ceremony.

The awardees were Frans De Ridder, Marcel Gentil Laurent Goffart, Antoine Georges Maes and Willy Ollevier of the Congregatio Immaculati Cordis Mariae (CICM), and Hilda Van Hoolst and Maria Godelieva Claeys ofthe Immaculati Cordis Mariae (ICM) Sisters.

Hau commended the priests and nuns for their charitable services to disadvantaged families, homeless people and people with dementia. He said they had set a positive example and were good role models for the public.

“Their selfless contribution touches everyone and makes us admire them,” Hau said.

Caroline Vermeulen, director of the Belgian Office in Taipei, also attended the ceremony, praising the priests and nuns as living symbols of Belgian values and the best ambassadors for the European country.

Speaking in Mandarin, two of the awardees, De Ridder and Maes, voiced their gratitude to Taiwanese society, in which they have made many friends.

“Taiwan is our home,” De Ridder said, adding that the way he thinks, speaks and acts epitomize “God’s will.”

Claeys, who has served in Taiwan for half a century, echoed their views, saying in Mandarin that it was all about reciprocal giving and taking.

“What I have received here in Taiwan is much more than what I have offered,” she said.

“We’re now ambassadors for Taiwan,” she said.

CICM is a Belgian Roman Catholic missionary congregation established in 1862, and it expanded its apostolic field into Taiwan in 1954. ICM Sisters has also been serving in Taiwan for more than half a century.