29 May 2024

Meeting of hearts and minds

Dearest Family and Friends,

Meetings, meetings, meetings. Some of us are in so many meetings. We preside at some and at others we try to participate, the key word being “try”. Sometimes we ask ourselves why we are at these meetings and how we can contribute to the greater good.

I was recently in Manila for the Franciscan Conference of Asia and Oceania (FCAO) meeting of about 100 friars mainly from Asia. This meeting was historic not just because of the sheer number of friars present. This was also the f irst time that Asian friars were gathered to collaborate in the areas of Formation and Studies (FS), Mission and Evangelisation (ME), and Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation (JPIC).

Each Asian entity sent four representatives. Representing our Custody were myself as Custos (Minister), Friar Joseph Nasanathan (Secretary of FS), Friar Robin Toha (Secretary of ME) and Friar Cosmas Francis (Animator of JPIC). Two more friars from our Custody were present: Friar John Paul Tan (Meeting Moderator) and Friar John Wong (General Definitor for Asia). Though we come from a tiny part of Asia, we were very well-represented!

There was such an amazing buzz of energy at this meeting. Friars spontaneously exchanged stories about their life, community and ministry. Some exchanged numbers as well! There were many resolutions to be voted upon and implemented. As the newly elected President of South Asia, Australia and Oceania Conference (SAAOC), I coordinated with Friar Lino Gregory, President of East Asia Conference, on how best to assign friars to each of these resolutions with a stipulated timeline for reporting and implementation.

At last year’s FCAO meeting, I volunteered to spearhead the creation of a formator’s course for Asia. With the grace of God and help from many generous people, this came to fruition within a year.

I must admit that developing this formator’s course was very time consuming, but the providence of God never fails us. I began with no programme, no trainers, no participants, no funding, and no administration, but step by step, ideas started to form, and things started to come together, and the right people started to appear. This experience is yet another demonstration to me that when God desires something, he will provide. I just have to be his instrument and trust.

It is with trust and faith that I sent Friar David Au for studies in Franciscan Spirituality and the Diploma in Formation at the Franciscan University of Antonianum in Rome. My hope is that more friars from the Custody can benefit from some time immersed in Franciscan Spirituality, not just intellectually but affectively. This wholistic and integrated experience is what makes us Franciscans human and real, authentic and creative.

I trust that you, our friends and benefactors, will continue to pray for us and support our many endeavours to impact lives and to bring more people to the beauty and mystery of God’s love!

You May Also Like