By Fr. Ariel Macatangay, PGS Viceprovince
First Coordinator IUS-EAO
General House in Rome, 9 july 2016 -- Representatives of more than 40 Salesian Institutions of Higher Education (IUS) from 21 countries gathered at the Salesian General House in Rome from 4 to 9 July for their 7th General Assembly. Among the 70 delegates were present also five members from the EAO region, representing the five IUS: Don Bosco Technological Institute (PNG – PGS viceprovince), DBTS (Cebu, FIS province), DB College (Mandaluyong and Canlubang, FIN province) and Salesio Polytechnic (Tokyo, GIA province) – Fr. Inocencio Onofre (FIN), Fr. Tomohiro Kojima (GIA) and myself, with two lay mission partners – Dr. Nongkas (PNG) and Prof. Marques (GIA). For the EAO this General Assembly marks an important stage. A new IUS Region bringing together the IUS of our Region was established, with Fr. Ariel Macatangay as the first Coordinator.
During this Assembly Br. Mario Olmos, IUS General Coordinator, presented a report on the development of the Salesian presence in Higher Education and observed some challenges of the present time: raising standards; bureaucratic difficulties make it difficult to open new Salesian universities in many parts of the world; collaboration with other groups of the Salesian Family and the local churches; development of research. Also a new IUS Coordinator was introduced to the GA members – Fr. Marcelo Farfan from Ecuador.
Rector Major emphasized the importance of the IUS for the Salesian mission. "We have the ability to reach 140,000 young university students. We cannot ignore such an important reality" and indicated the intention to strengthen the number and quality of Salesians in the IUS. Fr. Angel stressed also the need to live and transmit the Salesian charism in our Higher education institutions, with two specific indications: a vibrant campus ministry and the preferential option for youth in need.
Family spirit and focus
“Frankly speaking, I came with a great desire to update myself with higher education matters in our congregation and to make contacts and networks with other IUS members especially in EAO and Asia. The formal and informal opportunities of meeting with leaders from other IUS members especially in EAO and Asia facilitated fruitful discussions and exchanges that hopefully will lead to greater cooperation and collaboration among our institutions. In our 7th IUS General Assembly, I was joined by a lay staff of DBTI, Dr. Catherine Nongkas. Throughout the meeting, we discussed about how many of the topics may be applied to our IUS in the PNG.”
Plans and future dreams for IUS?
The FIN colleges are planning to have a One College system and we in PNG/SI may learn from their experience and process. We have established verbal agreement with Salesio Polytechnic to establish student and staff exchange programs between DBTI in PNG and Salesio in Japan. During the General Assembly, a formal announcement was made regarding the creation of a new IUS regional conference consisting of higher education institutions in East Asia Oceania. In the first meeting we reached agreement to held the first IUS-EAO Conference on April 22-26, 2017 in Tokyo, Japan – Salesian Polytechnic in Machida City.
Continue the exchange with South Asia IUS
Even though our regional group of EAO are separating from South Asia (India), we agreed to maintain networking and collaborative activities among our institutions. We had informal meetings: For instance, I have made contacts with Don Bosco University Assam (ING) to learn the process of being a Salesian University; with the Salesian College in Sonada (INC) for networking with other international organizations; with Don Bosco Institute of Technology in Mumbai (INB) to develop our technology programs and start offering engineering courses, and with Salesian Colleges in Tamil Nadu for exchange of programs in Social Work (INT).
NB - last picture is of the new IUS World Coordinator Fr. Marcelo Farfan, former provincial of Ecuador, who substitutes Br. Mario Olmos after his 8 years of IUS service