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Businessman embraces spiritual calling

Chien Chuan-yao gave up a lucrative career for ministry

Chien Chuan-yao (right) at the Jesuit Society of Taiwan, where he shared his transformation from successful businessman to lay minister Chien Chuan-yao (right) at the Jesuit Society of Taiwan, where he shared his transformation from successful businessman to lay minister
  • Francis Kuo, Taipei
  • Taiwan
  • August 8, 2011
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In a pragmatic Chinese society such as Taiwan’s, it might strike people as particularly unusual that the senior manager of a multinational corporation would be willing to forego his worldly success and devote himself to spiritual matters.

This is precisely what Chien Chuan-yao has done.

The former marketing manager shared the epiphany that changed the course of his life during a gathering hosted by the Jesuit Society in Taiwan in commemoration of the feast of the society’s founder, St. Ignatius of Loyola, last week.

Chien, a parishioner of Holy Trinity Church in Hsinchu diocese, was one of three laypeople to share their stories of faith with about 200 Catholics as part of ongoing celebrations of the Year of Laity.

He told the assembly that he had reached the peak of his career about eight years ago, at which time he was responsible for an annual marketing budget of millions of Taiwanese dollars.

At the height of his success, Chien said he was shocked to discover the contempt his wife showed towards his professional accomplishments.

“In the quiet of one night, I began to ask myself if making money was the only goal in life and how I should walk the path of my remaining life,” Chien told the audience.

After prayer and considerable reflection over many nights, he decided to quit his job and work for the Church – a decision his employer deemed crazy.

Chien said he attended a week-long spiritual retreat, which dramatically altered his outlook and confirmed his conviction to work for the Church.

He then enrolled in a four-year theology program at Fu Jen Catholic University and has now established a prison ministry in which he seeks to spread the Catholic faith to those who have lost their way in life.

The temptation of material success, however, revisited Chien when his former employer tried to lure him back to the marketing sector by offering him a lucrative position in mainland China.

But Chien’s inner struggles had long ended, and his determination to serve God was fixed.

Father John Wu Po-jen, director of the Taipei Ignatian Spirituality Center said greater numbers of laypeople have realized Ignatian spirituality is relevant to their lives during programs celebrating the Year of Laity.

“It is more persuasive to have laypeople rather than clergy share the spiritual changes in their lives because audiences would think ‘it is a must’ for the latter since the clergy have dedicated their lives to God already,” the Jesuit priest said.

Related reports:

Public witness goes unnoticed
Bible-reading ‘fuels the mind’
Hong Kong begins its Year of Laity

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