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American priest gets ROC ID after 54 years

2017/01/06 18:49:01

Taipei, Jan. 6 (CNA) American Catholic priest Brendan O'Connell (甘惠忠) finally obtained a Republic of China identification card

Friday after living and serving in Taiwan for more than half a century.

"I've waited for this ID for 54 years," the 81-year-old said upon receiving the card from Premier Lin Chuan (林全), who visited him at the Bethlehem Foundation in Tainan to present the ID to him.

O'Connell said he has always seen himself as a Taiwanese and that he loves Taiwan because the Taiwanese people love him.

Now that he has obtained an ROC ID, the priest said he hopes he can live until 100.

O'Connell is the first person to be naturalized as an ROC citizen without having to renounce his original citizenship, which became possible after an amendment to the Nationality Act was passed last month.

0'Connell was born in 1936 in the United States and was dispatched by the Catholic Maryknoll Fathers to Taiwan in 1963, when he was 27.

In 1988, he established the St. Theresa Opportunity Center in Tainan, which provides day care services for children and adults with mental or physical disabilities.

In 1996, he set up the Bethlehem Foundation, which mainly serves children with developmental delays under the age of six.

Although he was granted permanent resident status in Taiwan in 2011, O'Connell hoped to obtain an ID card while retaining his U.S. citizenship.

His dream finally came true when the Legislative Yuan passed an amendment to the Nationality Act in December 2016 to allow foreign nationals with special contributions to the country to obtain ROC nationality without renouncing their original citizenships.

(By Chang Jung-hsiang and Y.F. Low)
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