By Dr Philip Yu, ASC
World Councillor for the East Asia - Oceania Region 2014-2023
Photos are from the 2017 Tokyo-Japan ASC EAO regional Congress
NB: This article was prepared for the World Council of Salesian Cooperators (March 17-20,2023) in Rome.
NB: ASC China province hosted the 1999 EAO Congress (Hong Kong) and 2008 EAO Congress (Macau)
ASC Rome, 17 March 2023 -- First of all, may I take this opportunity to thank China Province (CIN) for taking the courage to organize the 10th EAO Congress after a long delay due to the CoV-19 pandemic? We all know that, at the end of last year and even the beginning this year, there are still many people infected everyday though the border control and quarantine measures have been relaxed; and therefore, no other provinces in the region “dare to risk”. Even at CIN Provincial Congress level, the decision was made based on “small scale” congress which allows mainly the provincial delegate, provincial coordinator plus one more provincial councillor to join in person so as to constitute a face-to-face congress to elect the next World Councillor. This is talking about 50-people congress. In fact, this is a “normal scale” congress in many other Regions of Salesian Cooperators. However, in EAO the Congresses every 3 years in the past are at least over 200 and so 50 is for sure a small scale, with many Salesian Cooperators being disappointed! Anyway, after discussion at the regional (online) meeting and taking into considerations of multiple factors, we finally decided on 26-28 May 2023 for small but hybrid (face-to-face plus online) congress with less than 50 participants from outside. This means effectively 3 months only for all preparation works. Normally the hosting province has 3 years’ time to prepare and announce 1 year before. Thank God, the pandemic situation has been significantly improved since the decision was made. Today we even found that the air fares from various countries in EAO have dropped a lot!
“Youth as the YEAST Fermenting Today’s Family” is the selected main theme for the Congress. Not only that it will carry over the initiatives from Tokyo Congress in 2017, particularly the “For the Young” project in each province of EAO, but also it will incorporate the general direction of Strenna 2023 “YEAST Fermenting Today’s Family”. When discussing about this proposed theme at the regional (online) meeting, every province like it but we all know it’s challenging and yet not easy to accomplish! Very much appreciate indeed no province suggested different theme or take a step back because of the difficulties in front of us. Trust in God the Holy Spirit, and the Help of Christians from Our Lady, we shall be united in Christ, and successful in conquering the challenges!
Remember in the last Congress, Japan Province was so creative in adding a “Youth session” for the first time. It attracted some 70 young people, half from other provinces and half from local Japan, getting together at the same Congress hotel for activities in parallel but with the same theme. It turned out to be very successful. So the CIN Organizing Committee (COC) has already designed the Programme with a youth session and assigned the Young Members Committee (YMC) to look after. YMC is a brand-new “sub-committee” officially launched at the AGM last year, reporting to the Provincial Council direct. Besides the parallel session specially designed for the youth, the COC will subsidize the cost of youth participants (age 16-35) from overseas as well as those from local. All members of CIN are called to support the event economically and spiritually.
Now that the scale of this Congress is relatively small, the COC is making extra effort for the online part. For instance, the keynote speech and other big group activities will be broadcasting via YouTube while the group discussion will be facilitated with video conferencing so that each province can be connected real time with their home members online. Obviously there are many things affecting the quality of the online part, such as a strong and stable internet connection, hardware and software support, etc. The good news is that our meeting will be held at the Mary Help of Christians Church where the network was upgraded during the pandemic for broadcasting Sunday Mass as well as daily Mass. As a result we can be assured of a strong and stable network.
Last and not the least, I’m looking forward to my happy retirement after the election of next World Councillor for EAO. I have been serving almost 9 years since elected at Manila Congress in 2014, and 7 years before this term when I was elected first time in 2001. Sincerely I wish the Lord grant us good candidates among our fellow members with enthusiasm and willingness to serve! Let’s all united in prayers.