East Asian Conference Meeting Held in Korea

The General Assembly of the East Asian Conference was held last December 6-10, 2015 at the Provincial House of the Holy Korean Martyrs Province in Seoul, South Korea. The Ministers Provincials, Custos, Federation Presidents together with the Secretaries for Formation and Studies, Mission and Evangelization and Coordinator for Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation (JPIC) of each entity attended the said assembly. The chosen theme of the assembly is the title of the final document of the General Chapter 2015: “Going to the Peripheries with the Joy of the Gospel.”

The Minister General Br. Michael Anthony Perry, OFM was represented during the meeting by Br. Lino Gregorio V. Redoblado, OFM, Definitor General of Asia, Australia and Oceania. The message of the Minister General was read by the Definitor General. In his message, he encouraged everyone to take up the challenges raised in the document and to give emphasis on the importance of developing a Franciscan identity in the world today. “Unless and until we undertake a renewal of life, making a clear commitment to enmesh our lives with those of the poor and marginalized, and undertaking a reform in the way we use the goods of the earth, I fear the life of the Order might begin to drift,” he said in his message.

The first part of the assembly was focused on studying the Final Document through a summary presented by Br. Lino Gregorio Redoblado, OFM. In his presentation he emphasized the vocation to be fratres et minores in nostra aetate, commissioned to be “going to the peripheries with the joy of the Gospel.” In the face of the many radical changes the world and the Order are experiencing, he asked all friars to take their inspiration from the four biblical icons presented by the General Chapter. The Final Statement of the General Assembly presented the summary of his sharing and the reflection of the friars gathered for the assembly by stating that: “In the face of the many storms, particularly that which struck the Curia of the Order, with implications to the EAC entities in need, Jesus invites us to ‘hold on to our confidence in God.’ In today’s experiences of exile, we are to rediscover ‘the importance of having a `new heart and a new spirit’. In the many forms of our blindness, we are asked to “cast aside the old cloak of security.” Like the son of Abraham and Sarah, we are called “to become a smile of God” in our East Asian cultures and religions.”

Thereafter, the assembly was divided into four groups to reflect on the challenges posed by the document and to come up with concrete suggestions which they see emerging from the document/mandates which could be acted upon in each of the entities and in the East Asian Conference.

Also during the meeting, Br. Carolo Myeong Hwan Ho, Minister Provincial of South Korea was elected as the new President of the East Asian Conference. Furthermore, Br. Ignatius Nguyen Duy Lam, OFM, Minister Provincial of Vietnam was elected Vice President. The Conference also confirmed the appointment of Br. Cristino Pine, OFM as EAC Secretary for Formation and Studies and Br. Oscar Ante, OFM, EAC Secretary for Mission and Evangelization. Br. Rufino Lim, OFM of South Korea was elected EAC JPIC Coordinator while Br. Dexter Toledo, OFM of the Philippine Province was appointed EAC Secretary.

The meeting also included a tour to some tourist attractions in Seoul, South Korea like the National Museum of Korea and the Changdeokgung Palace. The friars also visited the Post-Novitiate Formation House.