ASPAC Mission through Education and Research

One of the SVD Directions concerns its mission through education and research. It calls on the provinces, regions, and missions that choose this as one of their priorities ad extra to evaluate their education policies, institutions and programs with a special concern for the Catholic character of the institution, social justice and interculturality.

Accordingly, the Divine Word Missionaries in Asia and Pacific zone has initiated an organization of missiologists called ASPAC MER (Asia Pacific Mission, Education and Research), which commenced as a  network of SVD scholars who organised meetings in the  zone in 1991 by Frs Mike Siegel and Bob Kisala in Nanzan University, Nagoya (Japan).  Then, in 1994, another meeting took place at Tegal Jaya, Denpasar/Bali (Indonesia) with the presence of Frs  Mike Siegel, Leny Mercado, Hubertus Muda and many others. In 1997 another meeting took place in Hong Kong with the participation of some  confreres such as Larry Nehmer, Jim Knight, Agustine Kanjamala, Jacob Kavunkal, John Prior, and so on. These meetings were conducted in a plenum called ASPAMIR (Asia and Pacific Missionar Research) every four years to discuss about Missiology and related fields of service to the missionary endevour. Then,  a conference on Urbanization and Mission was held successively in 2001 in Mumbai, India.  In 2005, the 4th conference turned to Madang, Papua New Guinea, at the Divine Word University from 3 – 7 October, hosted by Pat Gesch, Philip Gibbs to discuss the theme of Mission and Violence, which then resulted in the publication of a volume entitled Mission and Violence: Healing the Lasting Damage (2009).   The 5th conference was held in 2010, from 27 Sept to 2 October in Ledug, Malang (Indonesia) hosted by Raymundus Sudhiarsa with the theme “Cross-Cultural Mission: Problems and Prospect”. Then, turned to Tagatay (DWIMS), Manila,  Philippines in 2017, where a theme about Sorcery, Witchcraft and Mission was discussed, but unfortunately the proceedings were not published.

Due to the Covid-19, the 6th ASPAC MER Conference  planned at Widya Mandira University, Kupang (Indonesia), was postponed to the year 2022 and hosted by Philipus Tule, Yulius Yasinto and Jose Jacob. Its outcome appeared in a publication entitled “Challenges in A Postmodern World: Asia Pacific Christian Responses” (2023).

Piotr Adamek, ASPAC MER in charge of SVD SIN Province, together with Jijimon Alakkalam will organize  the  7th ASPAC MER Conference in Taiwan in 2025, taking the focal theme from the coming SVD General Chapter  "Your Light Shall Shine Before  Others: Faithful and Creative Disciples in the Wounded World".

Most of the conference  reflections were carried out  in light of a document released by the Vatican Congregation for Catholic Education, “Educating for Intercultural Dialogue in Catholic Schools: Living in Harmony for a Civilization of Love, and Vision and Mission of SVD International Society.”

Our founder, St. Arnold Janssen, treasured the education and research apostolate  at the service of manifold mission engagement of SVD Society and has been part of our mission from the beginning.

Around 10% of our members are engaged in this apostolate,  especially in  parts of the ASPAC zone. Provinces, Regions, and Missions are increasing their commitment to this apostolate in response to the mission needs in the areas that tend to be wounded. We pray that further reflections on our commitment to the Catholic character of our schools and institutions in our ASPAC zone will result in new initiatives towards the promotion of social justice and interculturality that might better contribute towards the mission, education, and research of our young confreres in the future.

Fr. Jose Jacob, SVD (ASPAC MER Coordinator)