By Sujata Jena, SS.CC.
GOPALPUR, India, Feb 11, 2020: As many as 35 Brothers and Sisters (delegates) from Indonesia, Japan, Philippines, Singapore, India and French-Polynesia gathered at Gopalpur, India from February 5-11 for the Asian Ministry Seminar 2020.
Members of General Government Sr. Margareta Claudia and Fr. Derek Laveely, Superior Delegate of the Sisters in Pacific-Asia Zone, Sr. Irene Barboza were also present along with CAP superior Fr. Bonie Payong.
The Ministry Seminar Preparatory team members; Fathers Pankras Olak, Subal Francis, Sisters Vandana Narayan, and Lia gave orientation about the venue and led everyone towards the spirit of the seminar on the first day evening.
The event began with a Eucharist, officiated by Fr. Ajith Kumar Dass, the regional superior of India. A beautiful entrance dance, by the Sacred Hearts Sisters Candidates made up to an enriching nuance to the celebration. Fr. Ajith, in his opening remark expressed “It is a unique privilege for Indian Sacred Hearts community to host the gathering of Asian Ministry Seminar 2020 (AMS). A historical event”.
The participants of the seminar expressed their joy to be able to be part of it. For many of them it was the first time to come to India. On the second day, Brothers and Sisters from different countries presented the ministry that they were engaged with.
Agustinus Suwondo expressed, “It is a unique privilege for me to be a participant in the Asian Mission Seminary. I was excited to share what I am doing in the mission. I thought I was doing something unique and great. Listening to others, I am humbled.
I am in awe for the wonderful mission, the other SS.CC members are engaged with,” The Fr. Suwondo is currently working among the among the indigenous people in Mentawai, a remote mission station in Indonesia.
Fr. Prasad Pinto, an Indian Capuchin, was the main resource person at AMS 2020. He spoke the various challenges of religious in India today like. He put forward thought-provoking questions like : “Is religious life relevant today? Is there a crisis in religious life in the Church?” Are you a happy religious and so on?
Fr. Pinto brought to our awareness that In India, the number of religious is growing every day, so also the number of unhappy religious! In a way as the quantity is increasing, the quality of religious life is decreasing. Many religious are fine only formally, heart of heart convictions of many are shallow and not deep enough.”
Fr. Pinto also presented the missionary challenges of religious and called forth everyone to have a deep experience of God in personal life and in our communities.
Sujata Jena, a final professed sister of the congregation (Indian) had an opportunity to share with the participants the fruits of her learnings on mission, collaboration-networking, project management- fundraising that she received from studies, various national- international, workshops and her own engagement in mission and social development work.
Sujata emphasized that mission is to get out oneself and reaching out to others crossing the boundaries of culture, language, philosophy, belief etc with love, compassion and recognition.
The General councilors Sr. Margareta and Derek together updated the functions and dynamics of the general Government. While delivering their final message to the assembly gathered, they reminded that the past, more so the present and future mission of the congregation is compassion. In their words, “it implies to go out and find those who live in pain. To let we be touched by their vulnerability.”
With this, the participants went in groups to study the points gathered from the previous mission seminar as well as the challenges and responses that were presented in AMS 2020.
Finally, the Assembly determined together to foster family ministry. The AMS 2020 stated a resolution - “We, brothers and sisters of Asia-Pacific and French- Polynesia commit to foster family ministries beyond boarders in collaboration with secular branch, to involve more deeply into the daily struggles of people through visiting families, building peace and reconciliation”.
Five objectives were made to build families. Concrete plan of actions was drawn as a specific response.
The reality is, the Asian countries face similar challenges with regard to broken families, abused children, single parents, gender-based discrimination, addiction to drug LGBTQ and so on. Therefore, our role is to build a strong family that will have a positive impact on their communities and church. It was an expression of our pastoral and missionary conversion in the area of family ministries.
Irene Barboza, the Superior delegate of the Sisters in Pacific-Asia- Zone (PAZ) expressed, “The Asian Ministry Seminar is a wonderful forum to be together as Brothers and Sisters of a single congregation, discern for an effective mission.”
“If we witness well, it is a wonderful gift we are for the world. The challenge is to maintain the gift of who we are. It is for us to maintain and nurture this gift,” she added.
As part of ministry seminar, they had an opportunity to visit a rural Sacred Hearts Parish, Ludru, in the district of Gajapati, Odisha.
The training program was an initiation of Conference of Asia-Pacific (CAP). The objective is to make a ministerial commitment based on the signs of the times in light with the charism of the congregation, said Bonie Payong, the provincial of the Brothers in Indonesia.
The Assembly unanimously agreed to meet once in three years for similar training programs in the future.
After the common assembly, Brothers and Sisters are meeting separately to discuss and discern other aspects specific to each.