Conference Assembly: Asia Oceania, 20-22 October, 2017

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The dress code for the shrine required a sarong: L-R Michael Picharn (Thailand), Takashi Seto (Japan), Michael Brehl

After five days of meeting for Phase III of the General Chapter, we were glad to have a rest day on Thursday before launching into three days of the meeting of the Conference. Most took the opportunity to take a bus tour which included a traditional Balinese dance called the Barong where the dancers are all in the costume of mythical creatures enacting a story of good and evil. We travelled on to Pura Tirta Empul a Hindu shrine with a cleansing water spring and were surprised to see how many Europeans were taking part in the ritual. We had lunch in a beautiful location with a splendid view of Mt Kintamani a volcano, fortunately, less active than Mt Agung, and then travelled back to Denpasar enjoying a visit to a model village on the return trip.

The water ritual at the Hindu shrine

Jovencio (Ben) Ma, Conference Coordinator, Arulanandan (Arul) Selse Pillai (Bangalore) and
Edmond Nixon (Oceania) who are members of the Conference Council, acted as Moderators
for our meeting.

After some time in small groups reflecting on issues arising from Phase III, and articulating our hopes for the Assembly we began with a series of reports. Francis Nguyen Huu Tri
spoke about the China mission and advised that we currently have twelve indigenous
candidates who are studying in seminaries and some will be ordained to the priesthood
by the end of 2017. In the complex world of religion in China, we hope that we will be able to
find appropriate ways for those ordained and those in formation to become Redemptorists.

Formation is also a major issue in the Conference, and the Province of Oceania is sponsoring a Conference Formation Symposium at Pattaya in Thailand July 2-9, 2018.

We were pleased to hear of collaborative formation initiatives in India for the novitiate and
philosophy studies. A major announcement by Mr Matthew Howard (Communication
Officer, Oceania) is that we now have a Conference website available in English and the languages
of each unit. The site is operational, although there are still some final edits occurring for
what has been a huge collaborative project. We owe a deep debt of gratitude to
Matthew for his commitment and generosity. The address of the site is: www.cssrao.com

A Finance Report, advice about a meeting of the Brothers’ in Vietnam in 2018 and modest
revisions of the Statutes of the Conference were the prelude to voting for various roles in the
Conference. Most important among these were nominations to the General Council of three
confreres for the role of Conference Coordinator, voting for members of the Council of the
Conference, and proposals for membership of the Commission for the Apostolic
Restructuring Plan of the Conference.

Tributes were paid to Fr Jovencio (Ben) Ma, who has served the Conference and the
Congregation so generously as the first Coordinator of the Conference of Asia Oceania, who
pioneered the role in a gentle, compassionate and dialogical way

Ben Ma: Conference Coordinator ASIOC

We congratulated Sebastian Ani Dato as General Consultor for the Conference, and we accepted the resignation of Michael Kelly who has served the Conference as Executive Secretary and Treasurer in its various iterations for almost fifteen years.

Fr Michael Kelly CSsR

 

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