Asia-Pacific Regional Meeting of the Regents of Studies

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Asia-Pacific Regional Meeting of the Regents of Studies was held at Rosary Hill, Hongkong from 28 – 30 September 2012. Prior Provincial Br. Javier Gonzalez OP offered to host the meeting along with Prior Vicente Sanchez OP. Br. Paulson Kannampuzha, the Co-ordinator of the Regents along with Br. Fausto Gomez organized the meeting. Br. Michael Mascari the Socius for Intellectual Life presided over the meeting. Those present were Bros. Mark O’Brien (Australia), Fausto Gomez (Holy Rosary, Hongkong), Romulus Rodriguez (Philippines), Nghi Dinh and Thomas (Vietnam), Philip Pan (Taiwan), James Channan (Pakistan), Paulson Kannamzpuzha (India) and Michael Mascari (Rome).

Br. Mark O’Brien was chosen to act as the secretary. Br Michael Mascari in his opening talk mentioned about the challenges and difficulties on the one hand and the possibilities which attend the work of the Regents in this Region. Minority status of Christianity, the lack of vocations in some entities, growing religious intolerance, secularism and consumerism are some of the main difficulties whereas there are also the possibilities of growing numbers of religious vocations in some provinces, opportunity of imparting Christian teaching and of proposing an alternative way of life according to the Gospel. In the years to come Asia-Pacific could offer significant contribution to the life of Order. Dominican study needs to be undertaken in clear relationship with its mission. Our preaching and pastoral questions should provide the immediate context of our study and reflection.

After the keynote address of Br Michael Mascari, the Regents of different countries presented an evaluation of the study Centres of their provinces which gave a true picture of their strengths and weaknesses.  Australia, Pakistan and Taiwan were among those who had smaller number of vocations. In Vietnam, though the number of students was high, proportionate facilities are lacking. Holy Rosary Province has the joy of receiving greater number of students in these years and the Province is trying to provide a homogeneous intellectual formation to all the students. Taiwan and Pakistan do not have a studium for themselves but send the students to other Centres. During the sharing the issues like lack of proficiency in English language, political and cultural challenges, issues of inculturation, lack of Dominican curriculum in some places and fragile academic centres came up for discussion which elicited collaboration among the entities. A fear was raised whether the move to send the student-brothers outside one’s entity would compromise on the aspect of inculturation. Too small provinces feel the pressure of dedicating more friars as professors and administrators while the existing ministries are still to be continued. Those who send the students to other non-Dominican centres had no control over the academic programme. At the same time if we try to operate small centres then the financial burden tends to be a greater challenge.

It was felt that the collaboration at the level of post-Institutional studies could be a better option in the light of the much needed inculturation at the level of Studentate. It was agreed to put out a list of available professors (a data bank of the region) for the task of teaching. An exchange of students for a short time could also be an enriching possibility. Offer of free scholarship could also be a possibility of helping the other entities. The need for an Inter-Provincial Centre for study could be kept in mind in the future as a way of collaboration. Providing access to libraries of the Order would also be of great assistance to the friars in their research.

The second part of the deliberation was on the revision of Ratio Studiorum Generalis. It was generally felt that the present RSG is essentially a good document but it could be made up-to-date in line with the Acts of the General Chapters. The text contains the importance of the locus of library, the emphasis on the research method, introduction of issues of Justice and Peace from the initial formation and adaptability to modern technological tools that are some of the commendable features of the existing RSG. Different regents in their turn expressed their suggestions for the improvement of RSG which was noted by Br Michael Mascari for points to be taken into the Permanent Commission for Promotion of Studies in the work of revision of the RSG.

Towards the end of the meeting, Br Mark O’Brien was elected as the Co-ordinator of the Regents of the Asia-Pacific Region. Br Carlos Linera In-charge of the Commission for Justice and Peace addressed the regents regarding the work that is going on in the Order in the field of justice and peace. He emphasized the need of constant reflection on the reality where we as a community are doing the ministry of preaching. He also pointed out that unless we speak the language of the world, we won’t be able to influence the people with our Christian vision. Thus he exhorted the members in doing theology from reality.

The meeting was concluded on 30th September 2012 with a Eucharistic celebration with the lively community of students of Holy Rosary Province at Macau.

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Resolutions, Election, and Proposals
from the Meeting of Regents of Studies of the Asia-Pacific Region

Hong Kong, on 28-30.09.2012

 

After receiving reports from the various CIS of the region and after discussion of the RSG and proposed revisions, the meeting made the following resolutions:

1)–The meeting resolved that a ‘data base’ of Dominican Professors in the region be drawn up, providing:

–their names

–qualifications; where and when these were obtained

–area(s) of specialization

–experience in teaching

–availability for working in one or more of the CIS of the region, either in a full-time or part-time capacity, and for how long.

The various CIS of the region will access this ‘data base’ and can make requests through the normal province channels for the services of one or more of these professors.

The financial arrangement for any such collaboration would best be worked out between the particular CIS and professor.

2)– The meeting resolved that the next meeting will take place in Vietnam in two years’ time.

3)– The meeting elected Fr. Mark O’Brien as the coordinator of the region for the next three years.

4)– The meeting agreed that the Provinces of the region should commit themselves to exploring further areas of collaboration, for example, in an inter-province CIS or a Centre of Specialised Studies (e.g., Interfaith dialogue). The next meeting will report on progress in this area.

5)–The meeting agreed that Provinces with the necessary financial resources should consider establishing one or more scholarships to help finance the study of English or other disciplines by Friars in the region.

6)–The meeting designated Fr. Mark O’Brien to draw up a proposal about ways of enhancing access to the library resources of the Order, and to present this to the Regents of the region. The Regents will then present the proposal to their respective Provincials and Councils for consideration.