When Italy was severely hit by the CPP coronavirus (COVID-19), an 80-year-old priest, Father Giuseppe Didone ( 呂若瑟 ), who has been serving Taiwan for more than half a century, tearfully stated the severe nature of the pandemic in his hometown and looked forward to receiving Taiwan’s assistance.
As soon as the news was released on April 1, Taiwanese people rushed to “repay the kindness.” The fundraising center was overwhelmed with donations and calls from all over Taiwan. Within 6 days, the donations raised amounted to nearly NT$120 million, the equivalent of US$3,994,540. One donor said that this group of priests dedicated their lives to Taiwan, and this time the people of Taiwan had this opportunity to return the assistance to him.
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According to the Liberty Times report, the Camillian Saint Mary’s Hospital in Luodong, the Magong St. Camillus Hospital in Penghu, and the St. Camillus Center for Intellectual Disability were all founded by the Camillian priests.
The Italian priests saw Taiwan as their second home
In the early years, medical resources in Taiwan were extremely scarce, and this group of priests devoted themselves selflessly to Taiwan, and never charged for curing patients who had no money. After being in Taiwan for more than half a century, these Italian priests also regarded Taiwan as their second home.
Since Italy has been severely impacted by the CCP coronavirus, Didone, who settled in Yilan, issued a letter through the Camillian Saint Mary’s Hospital in Luodong appealing to the public for donations. The hospital began to accept donations from April 1.
“I want to donate!” Like this, many local people came to the fundraising center to make a donation personally. People transferred donation money through banks and post offices if they were not locals, and some enterprises donated medical supplies. More than 4,500 donations were made in 4 days.
Donor Wu, who made a donation on the morning of April 4, said that he had been treated for illness at the Camillian Saint Mary’s Hospital since childhood; he was impressed by the contribution of this group of foreigners to the wellbeing of Taiwan. He took his donation as a matter of course: “I hope to help the priests overcome difficulties.” The Taiwanese “repaying kindness” action has touched the medical staff in the hospital.
Didone said on April 7: “We originally set out to accept donations for a two-week period, and then transfer the donation to the Italian Church. The response was so overwhelming that after only 6 days we stopped fundraising. Thank you, Taiwan, which is a great place to live with good people. The total donations raised were so high, we didn’t expect this. Thanks again Taiwan. It convinces me that this is why I want to stay here all my life!”
The Camillian Saint Mary’s Hospital will use the donations to purchase medical supplies to send over to Italy to help fight the pandemic. Responding enthusiastically to the donation appeal launched by Didone showed that Taiwanese people wholeheartedly appreciate the overseas priests’ dedication and hard work. Didone was greatly moved by the good deeds of the Taiwanese.
Translated by Joseph Wu and edited by Helen