French priest gains Taiwan citizenship, wants to be buried in Yuli

2017/09/10 17:46:03 fontsize-small fontsize-default fontsize-big
French priest gains Taiwan citizenship, wants to be buried in Yuli

Taipei, Sept. 10 (CNA) A French Catholic priest was granted Taiwanese citizenship Sunday without having to give up citizenship in his home country and said he would like to be buried in the Hualien township of Yuli, where he has been serving for most of his 58 years in Taiwan.

Father Maurice Poinsot (潘世光), 85, was presented with a Taiwan national identity card, household registration certificate, and permanent residency card, at a ceremony at the Church of Our Lady of Lourdes in Yuli Township, Hualien County.

The documents were presented by Hsiao Ming-chia (蕭明甲), head of the Hualien County Government Civil Affairs Department, who also tried to make the occasion a celebration of the priest's birthday, which falls on Sept. 12.

"Getting old is no good," Poinsot said. "There's no need to celebrate because today is not my birthday."

In Hsiao's tribute to the priest, he said Poinsot began missionary work in Yuli in the eastern county of Hualien when he was 27 years old.

Since then, Poinsot has become fluent in several local languages, including Mandarin, Taiwanese, Hakka, and the language of the indigenous Amis tribe, and has assimilated into the local society, Hsiao said.

Poinsot is also the co-author of an Amis-French language dictionary, which has helped other missionaries learn the Amis language and remains an important reference book for other people trying to do the same, Hsiao said.

According the locals in Hualien, Poinsot is passionate about his work and has been named "Mamet," which in the Amis language means "someone with a strong handshake." He has also taken the surname Pan (潘), which is a common one in the area where he serves.

On the question of whether he missed France or planned to return there, Poinsot said Taiwan long ago became his home.

"The Yue-ho area in Yuli looks a lot like my hometown and I'd like to be buried there," he said.

Earlier this year, Taiwan introduced a new regulation that allows certain categories of foreign nationals to obtain Taiwan citizenship, without having to give up citizenship in their home countries.

(By Li Hsien-feng and William Yen)

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