The first Universitas or gathering of university students, organized by our Institute took place in Taiwan, at Providence University in Taichung City. Although these gatherings are already a staple in Italy and Argentina, this was the first time such a gathering had been organized in Asia.
Gathering together students from all over the Chinese speaking world, the Universitas was held over a period of 5 days, from the 23rd of July to the 27th.
Each day began with the celebration of the Holy Mass and Morning Prayer and ended with Eucharistic Adoration and benediction, together with the Evening Prayer. This spiritual dimension aligned all the other activities and gave direction and focus to them, tapping into the source and summit of the Church’s spiritual life. We were privileged for some days to have with us a family of volunteers from Spain who came to observe and assist in the gathering.
Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that is within you (1 Peter 3:15). With this as our theme, the days included many formation sessions to give the participants the reasons for our hope. Beginning with the proofs of the existence of God, presented by Fr. Pablo Trollano, IVE, which began the Universitas, the sessions also included talks on discipleship, being an apostle and other aspects of living the life of faith.
One day was dedicated to life issues which were explained in detail by the St. Gianna Molla Pro-Life Center in Taiwan. We reviewed the science behind the fact that life begins at conception. The horror of abortion was made very manifest through the explanation of Dr. Bernard Nathanson, a prominent abortionist who later converted to the pro-life cause, in the documentary ‘The Silent Scream’. A beautiful moment was the screening of the short film which showed the value and wonder of every life, ‘The Butterfly Circus’, which featured the Nick Vujicic, who has tetra-amelia syndrome, resulting in him being born without all four limbs. We also saw the March for Life in the United States and the state of the pro-life movement in Taiwan, compared to the rest of Asia.
During the sessions, there were many group discussions and presentations as the participants were invited to share their own views on the matters presented and also to share what they have learned with the rest of the groups. With the Dictatorship of Relativism being one of the major problems faced by society today, affecting all levels and strata of society, especially the youth, we watched an informative video called ‘Modern Educayshun’ which highlighted dangers of our society of ultra-sensitive political correctness. As a symptom and corollary of the dictatorship of relativism, we could see its logical inconsistency, which makes it a self-defeating philosophy. The video exposes the fallacies of this pervasive modern heresy, which has moulded itself into a dictatorship by trying to silence those who hold on to an objective philosophy based on absolute truths. Conversely, the only absolute for the relativist is that everything is relative and this affirmation being paradoxically the only absolute.
We took a day off from the deliberations for an outing in picturesque Wujie, Ren Ai township, Nantou County. The village, home to a large community of aboriginals, is nestled amongst beautiful mountains and a meandering river. We visited the Wujie Dam, and the Zhuoshui River and had Mass in the local Catholic Church there. In the evening we had a chance to hike up to the beautiful Zhongkeng falls there.
Of course, no gathering would be complete without an element of fun and games, and throughout the days, many interactive games were played to enliven the Universitas, to forge bonds between the participants and to generate a sense of camaraderie among them. When the Universitas came to a close, the deep regret and sadness of the participants and their enthusiastic expressions of hope to participate in the next Universitas testified to the enduring ties that we managed to build up through the games and exercises.