ANS – Bangkok, Thailand 9 November 2022 -- The four day joint meeting of the delegates of Social Communication and Formation of the East Asia – Oceania region began this morning, at the Hua Hin retreat centre in the presence of Fr. Ivo Coelho, the General Councillor for Formation; Fr. Gildásio Mendes, the General Councillor for Social Communication, Fr. Nguyen Thinh Phuoc Joseph, the Regional Councillor of East Asia-Oceania Region and Fr. John Bosco Dheparat, the Provincial of the Thailand province.
Nearly 35 members from the 8 provinces of Australia, China, Philippines North, Philippines South, Japan, Korea, Thailand and Vietnam, 4 vice provinces of Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands, Indonesia, Timor Leste and Myanmar and 4 delegations of North Vietnam, Cambodia, Mongolia and the Pacific Islands. 17 belonged to the Social Communication Sector, while the other 18 belonged to the Formation Sector.
The Inaugural programme began with a brief introduction of all the participants. Fr. Gildásio Mendes applauded the hospitality offered and appreciated the charming beauty of the region, amidst its political and economic challenges. He thanked the participants for their work in answering the challenges of this diverse region. In his message he affirmed. “St Paul is a great communicator, who worked with a passion for Jesus Christ. He was able to understand the diversity, dialogue with everyone, explore new possibilities, face challenges and communicate effectively the Good News in word and deed”.
Fr. Ivo Coelho, in his message also reaffirmed the beauty of the region and exhorted everyone to embrace the beauty of the region. In his words, he said, “It a wonderful region, that has a long history of working together – planning, decision making, sacrifice and fraternity. While there are so many challenges outside in so many sectors, the real difficulties are the ones that are on the inside. We need to form ourselves continuously as we form others, and diligently adapt ourselves and wisely respond to the challenges of the digital world”.
Fr. Joseph Phuoc, in his message thanked the provincial and the province for their hospitality and generosity, and affirmed that the region was extremely beautiful and blessed with good, dedicated and holy confreres. “This joint meeting will surely foster deeper understanding of this all-pervasive pertinent theme of the digital world, and help out to work out concrete strategies to respond to the challenges and opportunities of the digital world”.
“This is your home, and feel at home. My job is to make everyone happy, and that is the job of the provincial. We are blessed to have you here” expressed Fr. John Bosco Dheparat as he welcomed the participants and gave them an overview of the activities of the Hua Hin Salesian Centre, which had a big school, aspirantate, youth centre and a retreat centre.
The second part of the inaugural programme was dedicated to a lectio divina on the theme “Listening with the ear of the heart” based on Pope Francis’ message for the 56th World Communications Day. After a brief presentation of the theme, followed by a moment of silent reflection, there was also a sharing in small groups on the theme.
Both the groups began their specific presentations, discussions and sharing with their respective General Councillors, after the inaugural session. Day one, two and four of the meeting are planned to be held within the specific sector, while the third day will be entirely dedicated for joint reflection and discernment on the theme “Formation of the Salesians in the Digital Era”.
The fraternal atmosphere, warm hospitality, aesthetic surroundings, and lush greenery around made all the participants feel much enthused, and it set a very favorable ambience and tone for the joint meeting.