first nun meet
The First International Buddhist-Christian Dialogue for Nuns from various parts of the world.

Just why did 70 nuns from 15 countries, many travelling across the globe to congregate in Taiwan, meet in a Buddhist monastery?

It was a landmark conference indeed for all the nuns who were participating in the First International Buddhist-Christian Dialogue for Nuns, held from Oct 13-20, in the Fo Guang Shan Buddhist Monstery in Kaohsiung. Of the 70 nuns, 30 were Buddhists from countries such as Australia, Thailand, Japan and Singapore.

The theme for the dialogue was Contemplative Action and Active Contemplation: Buddhist and Christian Nuns in Dialogue. Their aim was to foster mutual understanding between Buddhists and Catholics.

Their discussions focused on various items related to the theme such as the origin, evolution and present-day situation of monastic Religious life for women in Buddhism and Christianity; Buddhist meditation and Christian contemplation and service to humanity.

And, it was well worth the trip for the 70 nuns from Taiwan, Korea, Japan, India, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Thailand, Singapore, Hong Kong, Cambodia, the Philippines, Brazil, Italy, Germany, Norway and the US. There was also a representative from the World Council of Churches.

Singapore’s Canossian Sister Theresa Seow, who attended the conference, said she hopes Catholics “will learn the importance of Church documents that guides our decisions in interreligious dialogue.”

“The Catholic Church believes that there is a ray of truth in other religions and as Catholics, we can also learn that truths revealed in other religions can also help us to be better persons,” she said.

The conference was organised by the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue of the Holy See, in collaboration with Fo Guang Shan Buddhist Monastery, the Association of the Major Superiors of Religious Women in Taiwan and Dialogue Interreligieux Monastique/Monastic Interreligious Dialogue.

There were plenary and small group discussions, one-on-one interaction as well as attendance at Buddhist chanting and Catholic liturgy. The programme also included visits to the Female Buddhist College, the Buddha Museum and the Wanchin Basilica of the Immaculate Conception.

And the takeaway for the participants was that the event has helped to build understanding and friendship among Religious women so that they may build bridges connecting the different spiritual paths. Their witness to Religious life can be meaningful and joyful through detachment from consumerism, materialism and individualism and that others can be encouraged to walk on the path of holiness.

As a follow-up to the dialogue, Sr Theresa said she will share with her fellow Religious who are involved with interreligious dialogue on what took place during the conference. She will also contact the Fo Guang Shan Monastery in Punggol to organise an informal meeting.

seow fa xun
Canossian Sister Theresa Seow (far right) together with Venerable Fa Xun and Benedictine Sister Manuela Scheiba from Germany.