Friday, December 2, 2011

A Gathering of Ecclesial Movements in Asia

The 2nd gathering of Ecclesial Movements in Asia was held from 25th to 27th November in the Redemptorist Centre Pattaya, Thailand. Prolonged floods in the country had posed serious practical difficulties for the members of the 28 Ecclesial Movements from different parts of Asia making it impossible for many of them to attend the gathering. Unfazed, FABC-OE (Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conference – Office of Evangelization) and FEMA (Fraternity of Ecclesial Movements in Asia) managed to convene the gathering with its central theme “Mission in Asia – New Evangelizers for the New Evangelization.”

The inspiring presence and guidance of the Chairman of FABC-OE, Archbishop Thomas Menamparampil and the insightful inputs of Bishop Pablo Virgilio David, provided a clear and challenging direction to the deliberations. Representatives of the 14 Ecclesial Movements who participated in this year’s gathering, were motivated to heed the call of the Mother Church for a New Evangelization. New Evangelization “is the courage to forge new paths in responding to the changing circumstances and conditions facing the Church in her call to proclaim and live the Gospel today.” This would demand fresh discernment and require novel approaches to transmit the Gospel of hope to build a civilization of love in contemporary times.

The gathering focused on the widespread culture of secularism that is transforming families, individuals and communities. A strong tendency to confine God to the private sphere alone forgetting the hereafter is creating a culture of apathy towards God and society today. At the same time, there has been a rise in narrow forms of faith such as sects and different forms of fundamentalism that paint a very unpleasant picture of religiosity for the wider society.

In addition, societies face the phenomenon of migration of peoples across countries causing families to be uprooted and cultural roots to be forgotten. Another significant contemporary reality is the complex world of the media and technology which has brought enormous benefits and conveniences, but which has also impacted the way people think, act and relate to one another.

On another front, many societies are ageing quickly, posing new issues that require special attention and a fresh outlook. The gathering acknowledged the need to expect that the rapid changes will continue to evolve, making it essential for the lay Movements to be ever vigilant and continually discern their Christian response.

Focolare’s representative to the Gathering, Chun Boc Tay, pointed out the need for the Ecclesial Movements to “live the reality of the Church as communion: unity in diversity, being one in Jesus while maintaining the beauty of one’s own charism.”

Wendy Lui of HK Catholic Lay Missionaries Association summed up sentiments shared by all present i.e., the joy to be able to “share experiences and stories with fellow lay brothers and sisters in Asia – cutting across cultures and unique charisms.”

Another response to the Gathering came from Maria Yan of Fondacio - “I am enlightened, enriched and encouraged by inputs and sharings of the speakers and fellow participants. I am called to continue with a renewed fervour as a missionary in Asia.”

Shelley Ee of Worldwide Marriage Encounter remarked, “I was inspired by the diverse charisms of the Ecclesial Movements in Asia and am motivated by Bishop Thomas’ concluding advice to the Gathering, that lay missionaries need to be ‘relevant and creative’ in responding to the times and to ‘respect the individual by paying attention to his worries and his situation’.”

Manoj Sunny, the Co-ordinator of FEMA observed, “We organized this gathering for a deeper study and reflection on the Lineamenta of the Bishops’ Synod on “The New Evangelization for the Transmission of the Christian Faith” in the context of Asia. The three days we spent together under the leadership of FABC-OE were a time of knowing, inspiring and challenging each other to contribute more to the mission of the Church in Asia using our unique charisms.”

All the participants agreed that it was an important step for FEMA to meet annually as it recognized the importance of continued fellowship and reflection on Mission. While all Ecclesial Movements are members of FEMA, a council of six Movements, namely Couples for Christ, Focolare, Fondacio, Holy Trinity Community, Jesus Youth and Worldwide Marriage Encounter, were selected to be the Coordinating Council for the next 3 years.

Manoj Sunny
Co-ordinator, FEMA

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