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'Following God's will' in Taiwan, nun reflects on life of service

'Following God's will' in Taiwan, nun reflects on life of service

Taipei, March 5 (CNA) The first Mandarin phrase she learned during her voyage on a cargo ship from the United States to Taiwan in 1956 was "hao meili," or "so beautiful," 79-year-old Catholic nun Sister Mary Paul Watts recalls. She has been a fixture in Taiwan since then, devoting herself selflessly to helping the country and its people, and has received extensive recognition for her efforts. Sister Watts obtained an alien permanent resident certificate under the Mackay Program, a special project initiated by President Ma Ying-jeou to honor foreign nationals who have contributed to social welfare services in Taiwan for a lengthy period of time. Last year, the founder of St. Martin De Porres Hospital in Chiayi City was honored with the prestigious Medical Contribution Award by the government. She was also previously recognized by the Ministry of the Interior in 2007 as an "Outstanding Foreign Religious Individual." Yet the awards tell only a small part of the story of the humble nun, who established the Chung Jen College of Nursing, Health Science and Management in 1970. Born in Illinois in 1932, Sister Watts answered God's call and joined the Sisters of Our Lady of China order after graduating from a college of medicine in 1956. That same year, she boarded a freighter sailing to Taiwan, without the ability to speak Mandarin or any local dialects. "Hao meili" was the phrase she resorted to a lot during the early days of her stay on the island, she recalls, saying that she would say "hao meili" even when the environment was old, wet and shabby. In her first year on the island, the nun opened a medical clinic, named "Hai Hsin," in the remote Meishan Township of Chiayi County, where there was a lack of medical resources. In the old days, she and other sisters of her order often had to carry patients down the mountain on foot because of the lack of transportation. She frequently fell during those trips, and because of the old wounds to her knees, she now suffers from degeneration of her knee joints. Though Sister Watts has suffered hardship, she prefers to reflect positively on her past. Her lifetime of contributions, she says, were the result of simply following God's will and has made her life over the past 50-plus years happy and fulfilling. She now hopes that her story will encourage others to give selflessly of themselves and even lead some to follow her in becoming a nun. (By Chiang Chun-liang and Elizabeth Hsu)


Updated : 2021-01-19 11:04 GMT+08:00