JOURNEY OF APRF & CCC (1995 to 2008)

Both the Asia-Pacific Regional Formators (APRF) and the Commission for Charism and Culture (known as CCC) were initiated by Asia Pacific Visitors Conference (APVC). The APRF was founded in 1994 and its very first meeting was held in Manila in 1995. The CCC was started at Taipei in 2003.

In 1994 the visitors of the provinces of Australia, China, Indonesia, India and Philippines met in Australia and organized the Asia-Pacific Visitors Conference for purpose of carrying the spirit and charism of St. Vincent de Paul into the evangelizing of people and cultures of the Asia-Pacific region. In order to attain this purpose, they came up with several specific objectives: to foster interior renewal and on-going formation for the mission in our region, to search for common lines of formation and action, to foster inter-provincial cooperation, to exchange vocation and pastoral experiences, to foster meetings between provinces, to create an Asia-Pacific community conscience. As a line of action flowing from these objectives, the Asia-Pacific Regional Formators’ Seminar on Formation was born.

In 2003 the CCC started to have meeting facilitated by Fr. Hugh O’Donnell, the Secretary Executive of APVC, at Taipei. This commission provides a forum for confreres to engage in and develop theological philosophical reflection with the priorities and emphases arising from our Vincentian mission and spirit, in an Asia-Pacific context and in ways sensitive to Asian and Pacifican concerns. The commission will contribute to the development of contextual theology for all Vincentians in the region, i.e. it will contribute to our being Church in Asia and the Pacific, and also provide in depth background material for formation matters especially in the area of ongoing formation (This could be a first step towards developing an Asian-Pacific formation centre for Vincentians and the Vincentian family).[1]

1. Manila, Philippines (January 31 – February 14, 1995): What does it mean to be Vincentians today

The first gathering of formators Asia Pacific reflects on the meaning of being Vincentian today. First observation at a glance carved in “report to visitors” says clearly hope that dominates the meeting. A reporter says, “As confreres gathered for the first time in Manila, most were able to spend a couple of days getting to know each other before serious work began at the Retreat House, Quezon City. We (participants) were led through a process which followed the program. It began in the first week with the question, What does it mean for us to be Vincentians today? What are we called to be and to do in our personal formation and in the formation of our candidates?”

2. Prigen, Indonesia (April 14-24, 1997): Growing sense of being Asian and Vincentian

The overall comment given in the seminar is made as follows: “A clear advantage of the seminar meetings which the visitors have mandated for our region is that our formation people get to know one another. A greater advantage is the bonding of the group as we work intensely together. It is one that powerfully transcends cultural boundaries … At the end of all the sharing by people here from different cultures, what do we see? Coming from different places they seemed so different from each other. Now the differences disappear and the commonality is clear.” One of fruits produced in the second meeting is that the togetherness of being formators in Asia Pacific was much more strengthened.

3. Gopalpur-on-sea, India (2000): Contextualized Vincentian formation

The material of the meeting in India is arranged in the following headings: 1) Contextualized formation, 2) formators-formandi relationships, 3) human formation, 4) Vincentian formation programs and personnel, 5) formation for international mission. The need of inculturating formation flowed from Prigen started to take serious efforts from formators.

4. Nausori, Fiji-Australia (July 9-22, 2001): The goal of formation is the Integrated Vincentian Missionary

The meeting started off with participant-engaging talks and process-oriented discussions on the two-pronged theme on Vincentian Particularity and Human Development in Formation. As the days progressed, the formators grappled with the bubbling cauldron of psycho-sexual issues experienced by formators and formandees alike viz-a-viz our Vincentian charism and local culture. There were three parts to our process. Firstly, we examined together what is particular to Vincentian Formation. Secondly, we explored the place and dynamic of human development in formation. Thirdly, we made connections between these two parts and our own formation programs and communities. What does it mean by reaching mature in Vincentian formation? Being mature implies being interculturally integrated missionary.

5. Tainan, Taiwan (February 9-19, 2003): Asian-Pasific Faces of Vincentian Formation

The formators’ meeting at Tainan (Taiwan), February 9-19, 2003 produced some important ideas concerning cultural aims to reach at each level of formation. The topic dealt with was “Asian-Pasific Faces of Vincentian Formation”. By level of formation we mean postulancy, internal seminary, academic phase, pastoral experience and on-going formation. The gathering itself was so fruitful and rich with inputs, exposures as well as concrete reflections on formation.

One of the important appointment to catch up in Taipei a week before the Formators’ Meeting was the first meeting of the so-called Commission of Vincentian Charism and Culture in Asia Pasific (CCC). The commission offers the possibility of providing reflection papers (to be published) on significant and foundational issues that each province might consider, discuss and respond to; facilitating an inter-provincial theological, cultural, and philosophical discussion as a background to other activities relating to the Church and mission.

6. Tagaytay, Philippines 2004 (August 25 – September 2004, 2004): Servant-leadership formation

There are two parts of the meeting. The first was dedicated to the formation of formators and the second was a workshop where we had the opportunity to come up with concrete lines of action in response to what we had heard. In the first part, we had speakers who talked to us on servant leadership from the perspectives of Pastores Dabo Vobis, St. Vincent’s Theology of Priesthood and Vincentian Ministry in Contemporary Asia Pacific Socio-Cultural Contexts. In the second part, we dealt with two sections. The first dealt with “Forming collaborative servant-leaders in the church: Evaluating Vincentian Programs from the perspective of the vision of our local church and contemporary social movements.” The second section dealt with the role of both formators and formandi in collaborative servant-leadership. This section provided both formators and formandi (students) with a couple of inspiring occasions to share challenges and realities of servant-leadership in our seminaries.

7. Mysore, Sothern India (February 13-25, 2006): Vincentian formation for mission

A week before APRF meeting, a gathering of the CCC was one of appointments to catch up. The CCC provided some interesting articles to reflect on. Some ideas were fruitfully explored in both meetings, the CCC and APRF. “If your aim is low, you keep on shooting at your foot”, an unknown author says. Vincentian formation has the very aim, formation for being missionary. The Mysore meeting reminds us to keep our formation’s aim high in the sense that formation for mission imposes us big challenges and serious efforts.

8. Prigen, Indonesia (July 2-15, 2007): on political charity and Vincentian formation

“Our candidates should not remain indifferent towards what is happening in contemporary society. They should be grounded in their own socio-political situations, be formed to analyze it critically so that they can respond to its challenges more effectively.” Behind the scene of exploring topic on political charity was a hope expressed ardently by Father Superior General in his last visit to Indonesia. The CCC and APRF tried to do the best to respond such hope with serious studies and discussions during the last meeting of the so-called, “The First Joint Meeting of the CCC and APRF”. And, here are fruits produced in the meeting.

By Armada Riyanto CM
Chair of CCC

[1] Unlike APRF whose members are formators, the CCC has currently “permanent” members from different provinces of the Asia-Pacific Region chosen by visitors: Charles Pan CM (Taiwan-China), Francis Kannampuza CM (India North), Paul Bharati CM (India South), Greg Brett CM (Australia), Daniel Franklin Pilario CM (Philippines), and Armada Riyanto CM (Indonesia).

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