【恩典之路】包容一切的信仰王輔天神父

 

王輔天神父 Charles Welsh, S.J.
 

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入會60

1934-04-10 生於美國加州舊金山(San Francisco)

1959-09-14 在美國加州洛思加圖斯(Los Gatos)進入耶穌會

1972-06-10 在美國舊金山聖母升天主教座堂(St. Mary's Cathedral)領受司鐸聖職

1978-05-13 於台灣台北市聖家堂矢發末願

目前在高雄四維文教院從事全人發展教育;兒少保護暨專業倫理辦公室主任顧問

 

包容一切的信仰

    每個人非出生即為基督徒,我也不例外,但是我在出生一個月時就受洗了,而我的母親原自基督教的家庭,所以當時她是跟我一起領受天主教的洗禮,我們就這樣開始了信仰旅行。從小我都是在一般的學校就讀,因此大部份的朋友都不是信天主教的,過了很多年以後,才開始了解到天主要我在一個與成長背景不同的文化裡過修會的生活。

    23歲上任美國海軍軍官時,第一次感覺到天主的手在我肩膀上,開始對信仰相關的書籍與文獻越來越有興趣,過了不久後,就從內心深處聽見了天主的聲音說:「你將來要成為一位神父。」,而當下的第一個反應是:「不可能,我絕對不會!」但是約過了一年之後,我就在加州洛思加圖斯進入了耶穌會,而這條路最終也帶領我來到台灣,到這個已經有許多來自加州的耶穌會弟兄們,在做使徒工作的地方。

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    回頭看我才明白,在還沒有考慮是否要成為神父以前,天主已經培養我在非教友中間為祂工作。容我來解釋一下:在我青春期,也就是讀中學、大學時期,我的同學和身邊的朋友幾乎都是非天主教徒,而大部份是信基督新教的。有時與他們來往、聊天的對話會成很多的挑戰,以探討和更深入地了解自己的信仰;同時,也對親友們是如何看待他們自己的信仰越來越感興趣,為我這的確是非常豐富的經驗。

   後來,在31歲那年來了到台灣,除了從事神父本職外,四十多年在心靈層面的專業領域裡,和個體與團體工作,接觸到各式各樣的人類,大部份都不是基督徒,我相當受吸引,我想這就是我的歸屬。

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    杜勒斯(Avery Dulles)樞機主教曾經定義天主教為:「萬民皆來!」。沒錯,天主教(catholic)的字義是『包容一切的』。當然,在天主教的學校或堂區裡,教友的比例非常高,但是我們要擴張信仰去服務那些教友稀少的地方,台灣就是其中之一,我相信偉大的牧者天主會安排一切,恕我冒昧的說:「我相信祂大能的手同樣地也在我的生命裡」。

 

  We all begin out lives as non-Christians, and I am no exception.  I was baptized as a month-old baby together with my mother who was coming from a nominally Protestant background, and so we began our faith journey together.  Much of my education was in the public school system, so most of my friends were not Catholic.  It would be many years before I began to realize that God wanted me to live a special kind of life as a Jesuit in a culture quite different from my own.

       I was twenty-three, serving as a newly commissioned officer on a ship in the U.S. Navy, when I first began to feel God’s touch on my shoulder.  My interest in faith-related reading deepened and it wasn’t long before I heard a voice from somewhere deep inside say, “You’re going to be a priest.”  Of course my first reaction was, “Oh no, I’m not!”  But about a year later, I entered the Jesuit novitiate in Los Gatos, California, a path that would lead eventually to Taiwan, where a number of my brother Jesuits from California were already working as missionaries.

       Looking back, I now understand how, long before I ever thought of becoming a priest, much less a Jesuit missionary, God was preparing me for my future work with non-Christians.  Let me explain.  During those formative years as an adolescent and young adult, that is, when I was in high school and college, my classmates and close friends were nearly all non-Catholic; most of them were Protestant.  Occasionally our conversations led to challenges that forced me to question and deepen my own Catholic faith.  But at the same time, I found myself increasingly interested in the way my non-Catholic friends thought about their faith.  It was indeed a very broadening experience.

       Eventually, at the age of thirty-one, I came to Taiwan where, in addition to the ordinary priestly ministries for Catholics, I have served in the mental health profession for more than forty years.  Work in that field with both individuals and groups has brought me into contact with a great variety of people—nearly all non-Christian.  And that fascinates me.  That’s where I belong.

       Cardinal Avery Dulles once said that the best definition of the Catholic Church is, “Here comes everybody.”  Yes, the very meaning of the word “catholic” is universal or all inclusive.  Sure, we have schools and parishes where the percentage of Catholics is relatively high.  But our service of the faith must also extend to those areas where the Catholic population is sparse.  Taiwan is one of them.  I believe that God, the Great Shepherd, cares and provides for all.  Pardon me if I sense his hand in my life too.

Charles Welsh, sj

August 26, 2019

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