Italian nun next in line for Taiwan citizenship

Sister spent more than 50 years in Hsinchu County mountains

Sister Elena-Pia Prongia. (By Central News Agency)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – An Italian Catholic Sister who has worked in Taiwan for 55 years was next in line to receive citizenship under recently changed nationality laws, reports said Friday.

Under previous regulations, foreigners could only become citizens of Taiwan if they first abandoned their original nationality. The changes allow certain special categories of foreigners to keep their original passport while also becoming Taiwanese citizens, while most of the others can wait until their Taiwanese passport application has been approved before having to supply proof they relinquished their original nationality.

Sister Elena-Pia Prongia, 85, who is known in Chinese as Chao Hsiu-jung (趙秀容), said recently her greatest dream was to obtain a Taiwanese passport.

The Interior Ministry was reportedly handling her case and was likely to complete its work shortly after this weekend’s Dragon Boat Festival.

Prongia was born on the Italian island of Sardinia in 1932 as the youngest of 11 children. After arriving in Taiwan in 1961, she soon moved to the mountainous township of Jianshi (尖石) in Hsinchu County, where she set up a kindergarten which mainly benefited the impoverished children of the remote area.

In 1972, she and two other Catholic missionaries were stuck in the mountains for four days during a typhoon, and when they returned to their home base, all buildings had been swept away by landslides. Her parents visited her and decided to help fund the reconstruction of the church and kindergarten.