TAIPEI (CNA) — Father Jean-Claude Fournier (傅若望) from Switzerland was granted Taiwan citizenship on May 16 by Taiwan’s government, in recognition of his promotion of education in rural areas.
Born in 1938, the 82-year-old Swiss priest first came to Taiwan in 1965 and settled in the eastern county of Hualien. He helped local residents to improve their lives by establishing savings cooperatives and teaching money management.
Father Fournier received his Nationality Permit Certificate, Resident Certificate, National Identification Card and Household Certificate from immigration and local officials at a ceremony held in the Church of St. Joseph in Xincheng Township, Hualien County on Thursday.
He is the fourth foreign resident in Hualien to receive the Republic of China (ROC) citizenship because of a special contribution to Taiwan.
Father Fournier has run the Beide Kindergarten since 1971. The tuition fee at the school is relatively low because its students mostly come from poor families, but this has made financing its operations very difficult.
Father Fournier looked for ways to raise funds from kind-hearted people, charitable organizations, local government agencies, and even relatives and friends in Switzerland.
His efforts have helped keep the kindergarten open for 48 years.
Many alumni from the kindergarten often return to visit him. They also help with school operations and participate in church activities, Father Fournier said, adding that this makes him proud and happy.
Father Fournier also thanked Taiwan’s government for letting him fulfill his wish to be a naturalized Taiwanese citizen.
A member of the Church of St. Joseph said Father Fournier touches so many hearts by setting such a good example and sharing love selflessly.
By Lee Shien-feng and Emerson Lim