Anton Weber SVD
1. What was your personal motivation for going to the mission in Taiwan?
Response: During my student years China already aroused my particular interest. Some of the writings (in a German translation) of the early Chinese philosophers held a certain fascination for me. When the Founder of the Society of the Divine Word, Fr. Arnold Janssen SVD (1837–1909), decided to found a mission society, he had China in mind first and foremost. After the communist takeover, however, deployment in Mainland China, where many SVD missionaries had worked for decades, was ruled out for foreign personnel. But then a door opened in the 1950s and 1960s in Taiwan (Republic of China) for the China Mission.1 The SVD Generalate also decided, at the urging of former missionaries to China, to take over an area in Taiwan for their missionary commitment. In agreement with Bishop Thomas Niu Huiqing (1895–1973), the former Bishop of Yanggu in Shandong Province (previously an SVD mission area) and then Apostolic Administrator of Chiayi Diocese, the Divine Word missionaries took over an area in that diocese. That was the area east of the city of Chiayi, including the mountainous area that still belonged to Chiayi County, with its indigenous population. The SVD Region of China (later on China Province) was founded. The first regional superior was Fr. Alois Krieftewirth (1904–1990), who had formerly worked as a missionary in Henan. He also managed to extract a concession from Bishop Niu to allow the SVD to take over the missionary-pastoral care and administration of a city parish in Chiayi. At the instigation of Fr. Krieftewirth, a parish was also taken over in the city of Tainan and the German Cultural Centre was established in Kaohsiung.