Hong Kong, China, 27 May 2023 -- Long awaited and 3 years delayed the East Asia - Oceania Regional Congress of the Salesian Cooperators was opened this morning in Kowloon Tang King Po Salesian School in Hong Kong (SAR) - China by the ASC World Councillor for the EAO region, Mr Philip Yu in the presence of a hundred participants from 13 EAO countries who represent 7 ASC provinces. It is an elective assembly, prepared in record time by the hard the work of CIN province members of the Salesian Cooperators supported by their SDB and FMA delegates and superiors.
Each of the 4 daily sessions is available in Live streaming on the internet (YouTube page of CIN province ASC), so that the other 2500+ Salesian Cooperators in this large region may follow this important event online.
The first day's EAO Congress program kept all participants very busy from the first session which started at 8:30 AM, then continued with other sessions until the evening performance and joint dinner at 8:00 PM. More than 100 participants from China - Macau, Hong Kong and Taiwan, Philippines, Timor Leste, Korea, Japan, Indonesia, Thailand, Mongolia, Myanmar, Papua New Guinea and Singapore belong to 7 ASC provinces (CIN, FIN, FIS, GIA, KOR, THA, TLS). There are other established centres in other countries though not established as a province.
In the absence of the original host of the 1oth EAO Congress - Vietnam - due to visa challenges, the significant presence of the SDB Regional Councillor for EAO, Fr Joseph Nguyen Thin Phuoc, and the World Delegate for the ASC, Br Dominic Nam - both from Vietnam - was very much appreciated.
The quality program on the first day was followed in 'Hong Kong style' with the swift animation of the China province team, each participant now sporting a beautiful Congress T-shirt with its 'YEAST' symbols. Also in the opening Eucharist in the MHC parish of Tang King Po each EAO province offered their own 'local' bread as a symbol of this year's strenna inspiration.
After the opening ceremony with procession of national flags, opening prayer and address (EAO ASC Regional Councillor) the participants were inspired by their Superior, the 10th successor of Don Bosco in his short video message from Valdocco 'where the Salesian Cooperators were born'. Fr Angel encouraged the EAO Salesian Cooperators to be deeply convinced that they are 'integral members of the Salesian Family, and to continue witnessing to their life alongside young people so that they may discover Jesus.' At the end of his address the Rector Major invited all EAO Salesian Cooperators to feel united with the other 30,000 Salesian Cooperators around the world!
An address setting the theme for the Congress: Youth as the Yeast fermenting TODAY's family' was shared by Ms Meldy, ASC (FIN), then the Opening Mass by Hong Kong's Bishop Stephen Chow SJ. After lunch there was an opportunity for each province report (15 minutes each), with a focus on the 'For the Young' project launched in 2017 at the 9th EAO Tokyo Congress.
One of the Congress participants shared his first day impressions: "This Congress make us re-think or consider how to be with the young, how to approach the young as Salesian Cooperators. Let them be free, not just 'teach them', but accompany them, lead them by your life example."
The next two days program (27-28 May) include indications from the ASC World Council (Coordinator Mr Antonio Boccia), a Province Action Plan for the next 3 years with a parallel Youth session, sharing of province plans in the assembly, an election session for the World Councillor (EAO region), a visit to the nearby 'Don Bosco 100 Discovery Center' opened in 2006 for the Centenary of Salesian presence in China. On Sunday there will be a conclusion by Mr Philip Yu and a Final Eucharist (Solemnity of the Holy Spirit) celebrated by Fr Joseph Phuoc, EAO Regional Councillor then a farewell with a 'pilgrimage to the relics - casket of Don Bosco' kept in the Mary Help of Christians parish (Tang King Po).
- Link for the EAO Congress Live streaming: ASC-China province YouTube channel
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