Dominicans on Justice and Peace in the Asia-Pacific

Picture: 
Body: 

The Conference which was held at Surabaya, Indonesia from the 24th to the 26th of February, 2013 brought together Dominican brothers, sisters and laity from Australia, New Zealand, Philippines, Indonesia, India, Japan and Vietnam. They shared on the fruits of their Justice and Peace activities and planned for the next Justice, Peace and Care of Creation (JPCC) Conference in 2014.

At the JPCC Conference in 2010, fr Andreas Kurniawan and Sr Hermine Nurhayani were both chosen as the joint co-promoters of JPCC in the Asia-Pacific region. They coordinated the meeting.

Australia: On the JPCC ministries, Sr Gabrielle Kelly reported that despite the advanced age of sisters in Australia, the sisters are working assiduously, independently and in collaboration with other sister groups. The lay groups are also at hand to make up for the lack. There are a number of youth groups in Adelaide, Melbourne and Sydney who are actively involved in social awareness locally and in neighbouring countries like East Timor, Vietnam, India, Indonesia and even Africa.

New Zealand: The sisters are actively involved in preaching the Good News and doing the work of justice and peace through the media, focusing on issues like the environment, interfaith dialogue, human trafficking, euthanasia, youth development and care of leprosy patients. They encourage the youth through Dominican Volunteers and participation in the Dominican NGO at the UN.

Philippines: According to fr Bienvenido Trinilla, the Dominican family in the Philippines responded to the victims of the storm at Mindanao and worked to rehabilitate them. They are also helping the poor in various ways like providing scholarship for students from poor homes under the Dominican School Network.

In addition, Sr Cecilia Bayani reported that the Dominican Sisters are involved in campaigns against extrajudicial killings and human right abuses. They are involved in the pastoral care of women and children who are victims of violence. They are also instructing students on chastity and abstinence as against the use of contraceptives. To regenerate the environment, the sisters have planted over 800 trees.

Indonesia: Sr Hermine reported that after the 2010 conference, the Sisters of Central and West Java and DKI Jakarta focused on waste management, tree planting, land use, prison visitation, pastoral care of the sick and visitations to families of convent staff. The sisters are also involved with the issue of human trafficking and the provision of loans for pedicab drivers. She raised the concern about the difficulty in changing the orientation of migrant workers on education, purity and self-dignity.

Sr Theresa Tri Astuti also shared on her experiences with prisoners and parents with special needs children. In Jakarta, the Lay Dominican assist the sisters with the management of waste and their catfish farming. During Ramadan, when the convent staff are away for Eid’l Fitri, the lay Dominicans render domestic assistance to the sisters.

India: Fr Prakash Lohale, the Socius for Apostolic Life of the Order was invited to share about the situation in India. According to him, there are projects for the children living on the streets and several sisters are also working on different issues about women, education, human rights etc. Fr Prakash is also responsible for the Journeés Romaines Dominicaines, an initiate in support of Dominican sisters and friars working mainly in the Moslem world.

Japan: Fr Raymond Latour highlighted the different situation in Japan which is mostly related to the aftermath of the Tsunami. To overcome the effects of the Tsunami, there are plans to run social reconstruction programmes such as providing a better place for the children of tsunami victims, helping those who have been under pressure due to lack of work and the financial crisis. The sisters in addition have been running houses for orphans.

Vietnam: Sr Maria Ha Dinh expressed the difficulty in following the theme of the 8th conference of JPCC. To establish Justice and Peace in Vietnam the sisters can only be committed to simple ministries that can help development in their country. They can only do charitable works and not work for justice and peace directly.  They take care of abandoned old women, do skill training, create jobs for the youth and education for the physically challenged, poor people, street children and youngsters, as well as protection for the unborn and the welfare of mothers.  In fact, they take care of creation from womb to tomb, from the unborn to the newborn babies, from the children to youth and to the elderly who are in the twilight of their lives.

Although there were no reports from East Timor and the Solomon Islands, the meeting was informed that sisters at East Timor are working very hard especially in the care of orphans. In the Solomon Islands, the sisters are also working against violence and abuses against women and children.   

The meeting decided that the 9th Asia-Pacific JPCC Conference will be held at Indonesia in 2014 with the theme, “Coming Together as Bright-Makers: The Challenges of Interfaith Dialogue and Peace Building in the Asia-Pacific Region”. This will be a joint meeting with JRD. A core group was formed to prepare for the event.

From the reports and other activities during the meeting, it was clear that the Dominican family is actively enhancing the life of society through their JPCC ministries.