Taipei, April 8 (CNA) President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) commended four Italian nuns of the Sacro Costato Missionary Sisters of Hsinchu city and county in Taipei Friday, thanking and praising them for their devoted services in the education of young children in the area.
One of them, Sister Elena-Pia Frongia (趙秀容), has devoted herself to disseminating the teachings of the Catholic Church and educating local children in Jianshi Township in Hsinchu County for more than 50 years.
As a teenager, Frongia made up her mind to become a nun and do service in some remote areas of the world. She has returned to Italy just six times since she was sent to Taiwan in the early 1960s.
Although she keeps in touch with relatives by telephone, she said she has devoted her life to Taiwan, and emphasized that "there's no such thing as retirement for nuns, so I'll keep doing what I'm doing until I'm no longer able to."
In the beginning, the 83-year-old spent her days visiting indigenous people to offer her help and used her evenings to learn Mandarin, as well as Hokkien and Hakka.
The mountainous Jianshi Township, which covers an area nearly twice as big as Taipei City, is populated by the indigenous Atayal people and Hakka people.
Gradually, Frongia became accepted and recognized as part of the local tribe, to the extent that some people call her "yaya" ("mother" in the Atayal language).
Frongia established a church and a Franciscan kindergarten in Naro (那羅) tribe, and most of the children who have grown up there have attended the kindergarten.
The other three younger nuns are Sister Flaviana (周寧慧), who heads a church in Hsinchu City, Sister M. Elisa (葛麗莎), who works in a kindergarten in Hengshan Township in Hsinchu County, and Sister Maristella (裴嘉妮), who works in a center for the intellectually disabled in the city.
(By Lu Kang-chun, Sun Chung-ta and Kuo Chung-han)