Asia seems to offer a real challenge to the Church. Christianity has not yet today found a home in this immense area of the world where only 2% of the population is Christian. Asia has ever captured the attention of great missionaries, beginning with Thomas the Apostle, up until Francis Xavier.
Perhaps for this reason our Founder chose Asia as our first mission area, China, in 1899. China was the first – and for 50 years the only – Xaverian mission. From 1899 to 1954, 116 Xaverians were sent to China, among them Fr. Rastelli and Fr. Botton, who died as martyrs. Years later the Lord open the doors for the Xaverians to go to Japan (1949), Indonesia (1951), Bangladesh (1952), Taiwan (1990), the Philippines (1992), and Thailand (2011)
In Japan, about 40 Xaverian Missionaries work in 25 parishes, giving witness, proclaiming the Good News, providing education, dialogue and charity. In Shinmeizan we are partnering with a Buddhist monk in a center of prayer, meditation, dialogue and service. It is also headquarters for our project, The Center of Asian Studies.
In Indonesia, the Xaverian Missionaries arrived in Sumatra, one of the larger islands, and then expanded to the Mentaway islands. We operate 9 parishes, 30 schools, three dispensaries, and two small hospitals. Today, on these islands there are flourishing and numerous Christian communities. Also, many new Xaverian Missionary vocations are developing in Indonesia today.
In Bangladesh, over 100 Xaverian Missionaries have served here since 1952. They have witnessed the very slow progress and growth of the mission, with the formation of the local clergy, Christian villages, and numerous catechists. Bangladesh has also seen the martyrdom of two Xaverian Missionaries, Fr. Veronesi and Fr. Cobbe, who have worked on behalf of the outcasts of this nation.
Taiwan welcomes a small community of Xaverian Missionaries, as a foothold and presence in a future opening of China to Catholic Missions. We operate the St. Francis Xavier Parish in Taipei. We are also involved in interreligious dialogue.
In our latest mission effort in Asia, the Catholic community of the Philippines constitutes about 80% of the population. It is there that we provide training for Xaverian Missionaries in Theology studies as they prepare for a mission life somewhere in Asia. We have a pre-theology seminary program with students finishing college and philosophy studies, and we work in to two parishes that serve the poor and the landless.
Our first missionaries to Thailand, Frs. Thierry Kamga, Giovanni Matteazzi, Thiago Rodrgues, and Alessandro Brai began with language and cultural studies for more than a year. We were given the care of St. Joseph the Worker Catholic Parish in Tak where tribes are strewn throughout the mountainside. We also have a house in Bangkok where we assist with ministry in the diocese.