The Institute for Consecrated Life in Asia held the 11th Missiology Forum on November 27, 2015 at ICLA’s Academic Building Conference Hall. The theme for this year’s forum is Caring for our Common Home: The Challenge of Laudato Si.
The event started with the singing of the Philippine National Anthem followed by the enthronement of the Bible. Fr. Pedro Dumpayan, Jr. served as the emcee of the Missiology Forum.
Fr. Samuel Canilang, CMF, Director of ICLA, welcomed the professors, students, and guests and formally opened the event. In his welcome address, Fr. Sammy explained that this year’s theme of the Missiology Forum is Caring for our Common Home: the Challenge of Laudato Si and the theme of the forthcoming Religious Life Week at ICLA is Care for our Common Home in the Cosmos: Ecological Conversion in Religious Life. These two events— the Missiology Forum and the Religious Life Week— are ICLA’s response to the Holy Father’s encyclical, Laudato Si. These two events seek to deepen and contextualize the message and challenge of Laudato Si from the missiological, theological, and spiritual perspectives. The Missiology Forum is an expression of our solidarity with the whole world, which is threatened by the climate change and other ecological problems. Fr. Canilang expressed his hope that the summit on climate change called by the United Nations will come up with binding agreements and resolutions as well as concrete steps to address all these threatening ecological problems.
In his keynote address, Fr. Oscar Ante, OFM – Missiology Professor in ICLA – presented a summary of Laudato Si, the encyclical letter of Pope Francis on ecology.
Fr. Ante also identified some issues for further reflection and discussion with the hope that we become more active participants in the care of creation.
ICLA Students majoring in Missiology gave situation reports on the ecological problems and challenges in their countries. Fr. Jonathan Balakase from Zimbabwe, Sr. Anna Nguyen Thi Ngoc Hanh, LC from Vietnam, Fr. Robert Pau Gin Mung from Myanmar, and Mr. Romano Bulatao from the Philippines gave their situation reports with slide presentations.
Before Fr. Edgar Javier, SVD, the Missiology Coordinator and professor, gave his analysis of the situation reports given by the four presenters, a group of Vietnamese students performed a dance.
Fr. Javier thanked all those who attended the 11th Missiology Forum. In his analysis, he pointed out the need to rediscover our kinship in the earth community. The earth is our mother and God’s temple. We can learn from the wisdom of the indigenous peoples, who are emerging in the midst of globalization. They are our teachers in saving the earth because we are kins to one another. Caring for the earth should not only be part of our way of life; it should also be part of our spirituality. Fr. Javier concluded his analysis by leaving the audience with two challenges: first, we need to educate ourselves so we can educate our people; second, we need to promote ecospirituality. The Institute provides the students with opportunities to know more about ecology, about the environment, and about ecospirituality.
After the open forum, Fr. Edgar Javier, SVD also gave a brief recapitulation of the Missiology Forum. He highlighted the glaring reality of environmental degradation and destruction. Much of the destruction of the earth, our mother and God’s temple, is due to human activities in the name of progress, in the name of development, or worst, in the name of the present market economy where everything is commodified. Fr. Javier proposed, as a response to the environmental situation, conversion to a life that is simple, to a life that is ecologically conscious, and to a life that is spiritually grounded on mother earth. Fr. Javier ended his recap saying, “The earth is groaning; humanity is crying. We should not be deaf to the cry of humanity nor to the groaning of creation.”
Before the singing of the new ICLA Anthem to end the Missiology Forum, Dr. Amalia Teresita Rosana, Biblical Ministry Coordinator and professor, gave the word of thanks on behalf of the Institute. She thanked Fr. Sammy for making ICLA always available for conferences that are very challenging intellectually, spiritually, socially, and morally. She also thanked Fr. Edgar and the Missiology students for sponsoring the gathering. She gave special thanks to Fr. Oscar for walking us through the great encyclical Laudato Si. Lastly, Dr. Rosana thanked the presenters, the performers, the students from UST, the academic office, and everyone involved in the 11th Missiology Forum.