2007-12-17 PHILIPPINES

Moving forward in unity and vitality

On December 3rd the feast of St.Francis Xavier, commenced the first chapter of the Province of East Asia. This province draws together our Brothers and ministries in Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Korea and the Philippines. There are now two Provinces covering Asia, as well as a sector structure for the communities which are Mission ad gentes foundations.

The chapter was held at Isala Parilla near General Santos City in the Philippines, with the theme: Moving forward in unity and vitality. The inaugural liturgy was presided over by Orlando Quevedo, Archbishop of Cotabato, and Secretary General of the Federation of Asian Bishops? Conferences. Significantly, the Gospel of the feast day was that of ?new wine, new skins? (Luke 5). In his homily, the Archbishop reminded the Brothers, that a people without a vision perishes. He challenged them that the vision of the new Province should be missionary through dialogue with life, culture and the poor. In a letter to the Chapter and the Province Br.Sean encouraged the Brothers to seize the opportunity which this new life offered; especially through a commitment to our ministry with poor young people. The first Provincial Br. Manny de Leon stressed the importance of being of one heart and one mind ? and to bring this unity to the life and mission of the Province.

The inauguration of the Province of East Asia was supported by the presence of Br.Fernando Mejia (Provincial of Mexico Central) Up to the beginning of the Chapter, Korea had been a part of this Mexican Province for 36 years.

In addition to the usual matters of a Provincial Chapter, time was devoted to clarifying a vision for six key areas of Province life: identity and spirituality, vocation promotion and formation (both initial and on-going), renewal of community life, lay partnership, evangelical use of material goods, mission and solidarity.

Just prior to its closure the delegates were asked to share what had been their experience of the Chapter. Many Brothers spoke of the strong sense of brotherhood and fraternity. Others commented on the strong sense of Asian Marist identity that was evident. Some Brothers spoke honestly of the concerns and questions with which they had arrived at the Chapter, and how the experience of the days together had reassured them about the future of the Province. All felt that a positive spirit had prevailed during the meetings and that there was both a strong desire for unity and that the Province have vitality.

The following Brothers were elected to the First Provincial Council: from China – Robert Teoh and Tom Chin, from the Philippines – John Tan and Pat Corpus, from Korea – Jacobo Song and John Oh.

The Chapter concluded on December 8th, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception and was facilitated by Br.Peter Rodney, General Councillor.


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