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ASPAC Triennial Gathering of Characteristic Dimension Coordinators:
Mission, Bible, JPIC and Communication

(November 4-9, 2013, Nong Bua Lampu, Thailand)



We, the 43 SVD confreres from 21 SVD provinces representing the sub-zones and ASPAC Zone, gathered in Nongbualamphu, Thailand from 4-9 November 2013 to reflect, share, plan and celebrate our service to realise better our ministries as Coordinators of the Biblical Apostolate, JPIC, Communications and Mission Animation. Our coming together has been enriched by the sharing of the Secretaries of the Characteristic Dimensions through their international vision regarding the place of our ministries as based from the direction of the 17th SVD General Chapter; and by the experiences, good practices, dreams and passion of Province Coordinators of the various Characteristic Dimensions. We thank our Provincial Superiors, Zonal Coordinator, Zonal Executive Committee, the Superior General and his Council for allowing us to realise this august coming together to happen through their moral and financial support. We hereby present the summary of what has transpired during these important days of gathering.

The meeting began with the enthronement of the Bible and a prayer service. Fr. Timothy Norton, the Australian Provincial who was the host for this meeting welcomed the participants of the meeting.. Fr. S.M. Michael, the ASPAC Zonal Coordinator also welcomed the EXCOM members and the delegates and explained the dynamics of this meeting and the Time Table. He pointed out that the orientation of this meeting is to share the activities which are going on in the sub zonal and province level of the four characteristic dimensions of our SVD ministries; to learn from the activities of other coordinators; and to evolve an Action Plan for the future.

The business session began with the presentation of the Generalate Secretaries and Coordinators of Mission, Bible, JPIC and Communication of their vision and expectations from the ASPAC Zone.

2. A short summary of the Presentations

a) Mission Secretary

Fr. Lazar highlighted some of the important statistical fact with regard to the ASPAC Zone. Asia-Pacific is home to 60% of the world’s population; and is home to major religions e.g. Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Christianity. 49.9% of the total membership of the Society of the Divine Word comes from the ASPAC Zone. About 59.4% of the current membership of the Society comes from the ASPAC Zone.

The Zone is faced with various challenges among which are fundamentalism, the Negative Traits of Globalisation, and Patriarchy. The Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conference noted fifteen outstanding megatrends that shape the evangelizing of the Church in Asia.

It was against the background of the preceding data that the priorities of the SVD 17th General Chapter were presented and also the threefold framework for the Intergentes Mission.

How Primary Evangelization and New Evangelisation may be understood in the ASPAC Zone?

Examples were given. There is a challenge to organise periods of studies among lay and among confreres to explore how the New evangelisation may better be understand and applied in the Zone. The 17th General Chapter has given concrete steps for (1) Primary and New Evangelization [#6-7]. (2) Ecumenical and Inter-religious Dialogue [#8-9], (3) Family and Youth [12-13].

What are the concerns: (1) Animation (2) Care of the Missionaries (3) Mission Funds (4) Roscommon Concensus (5) Migrant Ministry?

On SVD Parish Ministry

  1. Confreres in Parish Ministry: 1569 of which 592 are in ASPAC, 562 in PANAM, 228 in EUROPE, 187 in AFRAM.
  2. The number of parishes that exists in 2013: ASPAC 358, EUROPE 127, PANAM 298, AFRAM 99
  3. Mission Stations (Communities that are not ecclesiastically erected as parishes but functions as centres of evangelization) ASPAC 57, EUROPE 5, PANAM 9, AFRAM 25.
  4. Confreres in Mission Stations: ASPAC 90, EUROPE 20, PANAM 12, AFRAM 63

Profile of an SVD Parish

  1. Intercultural/International SVD Community. Through International and Intercltural community, SVD parishes give witness to unity and dialogue.
  2.  Inserted SVD Community: Understanding the context of the place, the community lives its missionary dimension.
  3. Making a concrete action plan and motivating a parish to make it as missionary parish.
  4. Participatory Lay Ministries. Giving opportunities for participation and responsibility to the faithful, in order to strengthen the sense of belonging and sharing in the duties and challenges concerning the entire parish
  5. Sense of Belonging: Each community member would feel welcome, respected, valued and loved in their individuality.
  6. Faith Formation: Each parish has a definite action plan towards faith formation
  7. Mission Week: Introducing world mission dimension and mission needs in the parishes
  8. Bible Week: Organizing various Bible related programmes
  9. Promoting Arnold’s Spirituality:
    • Celebrate the feasts of our Saints in communities.
    • Organise workshops of reflection and some competitions concerning our Saints and martyrs.
    • Promoting SVD Spirituality.
    • Promote the inspirational materials relating to our saints and martyrs of their life and mission

Lay participation in SVD Ministries

There is a growing participation of lay in the SVD Ministries. They share in the SVD Charism and collaborate with the SVD mission work.

Our Mission is to help to realise the Kingdom of God

This involves Conviction, Commitment and CONCRETE ACTION PLAN . The zone should dream together. To bring the necessary change we need to be Pioneers with Creativity, Pilgrims who aim for solidarity, and Prophets that command authenticity.

“To be baptised in the Jordan of Asian religiosity and to be crucified in the Calvary of Asian poverty.” Aloysius Pieris.

Mission is to organize

Organize people with some programmes, with vision, methodology.

Organize to share responsibility through Meetings and seminars/workshops

Arrange programmes to implement the action plan

Looking Ahead

  • Boldness of faith and martyrdom - Antonio Pernia – Are there martyrs in our Society? How many? Why not more? Calls for radical living
  • Solidarity with and compassion. Blessed John Paul II's Legacy in Pope Francis
    Misery + Mercy = Mission & SOLIDARITY
  • Prophetic evangelizer

Implementing the action plan with creativity

The present methodology, aim is to be in front, and ACTION LOOKING AHEAD

  • Corporate Mission – with companies – with moral integrities
  • Corporate missionas concept and practice with other svd parishes, missions, projects
  • Prophetic corporate missionin the province / with other provinces
  • Innovative Missions – Creative Ministries – What are they?
  • Putting the last first– what are the concrete mission endeavours for people at margins

"May you trust in God all the more, the more adverse the situation is."

"It is not lengthy prayers, but generous deeds that touch God’s heart." St Arnold Janssen, SVD

Intervention by the Participants

It was suggested to add to the Profile of an SVD Parish the following: The SVD Constitution provides for the ideal to hand in back to the respective Dioceses parishes when they are already viable. May this be understood not only from the point of view of financial viability, rather that viability includes the fact that such parishes have reached the stage of a Missionary Parish. A missionary parish is able to form, send, support and evaluate and support, morally and financially, lay people to minister in another missionary place.

b) Biblical Coordinator

Fr. Lukas divided his presentation into 3 parts. Part A: Ad Intra, Part B: Ad Extra and Part C: Method or Approach.

In Part A: Ad Intra of our Congregational Directions of the XVII General Chapter 2013, there is only one biblical reference, i.e. Eph 4:2-4 referring to 3 one body, one Spirit and one hope as the goal of our calling by God but more reference to the Constitution of our SVD Society as guidelines for our community life.

In Part B: Ad Extra of our Congregational Directions of the XVII General Chapter 2013, invites us to check for ourselves from all our 4 characteristic dimensions what is our role.

What is the role of biblical apostolate? Our role according to Fr. Lukas is to be the facilitators of the Word of God. Thus our orientations and focus has to shift from Bile centred to more of Word centred. Why should we do this shift? The reason for such a paradigm shift is that our life contexts and people’s needs have to be first looked into, and then accordingly we need to apply the text of the bible. We have forgotten over the years the ground reality. It is not the Text to the Life situations but Life to the Text. Bible in itself is the product of a particular context with its own culture, language and settings.

Theology of the Word

Word of God is much broader than the Bible itself. Word of god is not just sola Scriptura. It is more than that. It is spread in world religions, traditions and cultures, and in the nature. Word of God is spread in the nature very much; therefore integrity of the creation is necessary.

In Part C, Fr. Lukas urged us to adopt social analysis approach or method in our apostolate. In this regard he cited an example of the Synod of Maumere Diocese where the social analysis approach was found to very effective.

Challenges of the social analysis approach

  • It is found to be more difficult
  • Collaborations from other characteristic dimension is required.
  • Dialogue with other partners is a necessary.

Finally Fr. Lukas presented a triangular diagram putting God’s Word in the middle; on the top end Holy Bible and Holy Quran; and on the other two ends down, on the left Reality, on the right Community. By this he was indicating to us that God’s word is always at the centre of any Scriptures and not any one particular Scripture. So by social analysis take any reality and community to that Word, thus become Word Centred. Our apostolate should help people to discover the seeds of God’s Word spread everywhere. Bible Coordinators have to be the real facilitators of this process.

c) JPIC Coordinator

Fr. Daisuke gave the following presentation:

A. The importance meeting at zonal level:

  • It gives opportunities of rich prophetic dialogues intra/extra SVD
  • to seek common value and practical action plan as a zone

B. Our concerns:

  1. The Congregational Directions of the 17thGC
    • Promotion of the Culture of Life
    • Indigenous and Ethnic Communities
    • Migration
    • Reconciliation and Peace Building
    • Social Justice and Poverty Eradication
    • Integrity of Creation
  2. The Resolutions of the 17thGC
    • Human Trafficking
    • Collaboration with Lay partners
    • Migrant and Refugee Apostolate
  3. Caucus meeting
    • “Inter Gentes – ‘Putting the Last First’” “What God wants us to do”
    • JPIC experience & learning during formationɹprocess

C. Notes FROM questionnaire:


Not full time; No team; No interest among; confreres; No fund; No training = Some of the good models: Lay person in the committee; Collaboration with lay person in parish, school and NGOs; Visiting SVD communities; JPIC integrated formation; Collaboration with other dimensions such as radio program.

D. Requests and Expectations:

  • Information sharing
    • How do we share information? Ex. success stories, resources of church documents, updates of our activities through our media.
    • The value of sending activity report and any kind of sharing that can be circulated.
  • Initial formation: It is critical to have experience and knowledge of JPIC during initial formation.

d) Communication Coordinator

Fr. Sonny the General Communication Coordinator right at the beginning itself correctly observed that in our SVD Congregational Direction of the XVII General Chapter of 2012 the term Communication (i.e., Information Communication Technology) is found only once under the heading Family and Youth (CD: no 1.4). But this does not rule out the possibility and need of communication among the other characteristic dimensions. It is in fact the underlying reality in all and among all the four characteristic dimensions of Prophetic Dialogue of XV General Chapter 2000.

God has communicated his love for his people in the Bible in many ways; from pillar to fire, on stony tablets and finally through the cross itself. Initial documents of God’s such communications were oral from an individual to community, then came the papyrus and parchments and then gradually in the 15th century with Johannes Gutenberg came the movable print media which the Church without shying away from it used it for her mission. This shifted the focus of Christianity from listening to reading, from the community to the individual, and from concrete images to abstract theology. Then came a new technology called radio entered the scene. This was embraced and fully made use by the Catholic Church through the person of Fulton Sheen. In 1951 as television entered the scene, Sheen with his program 'Life is worth Living' Mother Angelica began the first ever Catholic Television Network; Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN) in 1981 which today reaches to more than 146 million homes in 127 countries. Thus the church as per the signs of the time discerned appropriately and used all these technologies.

During the last 50 years also, church once again has aptly but with enough precautions has been using the digital explosion to communicate and participate in god’s mission. Church entered this digital world in 1995 with her own website where only the official church documents were made available. It was in fact a static and information loaded website having one way communication. But the early 21st century witnessed the evolution of new media encompassing blogs, social media, text messaging and other digital tools. The important element of the New Media is Dialogue and Conversation. New Media is based on interactive community.

Blog: Web logs allowing readers to interact with the original author, forming the social backbone of the digital revolution. Friendsterwas the first social network that was introduced in 2002. It created friends from around the world into an online community.

This was followed by MySpace and attracted a more youth friendly culture. In 2004 the new social networking site, Facebook was launched by students at Harvard University as a way to connect U.S college students. One had to have a college email to join it. The site gained over 200 million users in its first eight months. Then in 2005 emerged the YouTube.

Within a year after this the micro blogging service Twitter was introduced. This site has now over 190 million users who generate 65 million new tweets each day.

It is said that an average person spends 66 hours of his/her quality time per month on a computer outside of work. YouTube visitors watch over 2 billion videos every day.

Every minute 24 hours of new video is uploaded to the site. Famous singers like Lady Gaga, Justin Beeber and Britney Spears have over 6.5 million Twitter followers. Any message twitted reaches the people on a few seconds. The internet features over 200 million blogs. More than 75 percent of internet users read such blogs regularly.

Such an over use of the Internet also has a few negative impacts in people’s life. It leads to: (1) Shallow relationship (2) Information Overload (3) Rise of narcissism and pride (4) Online relativism (5) Difficulty in prayer and contemplation: Example of Martha and Mary (5) Multi- tasking which actually scatters and shatters a person. These negative impacts affect anyone, mainly the youth and family very much, leaving the church at crossroads. In spite of that, on the 43rd World Communications Day Pope Benedict encouraged Catholics to enter the "digital world" with courage because the Holy Father has rightly recognized this digital world for what it is: a ripe mission field for the Church.

The world today literally lives in the digital world. Therefore the church cannot shy away from the digital world but enter into it to use it positively for her mission. So also we as SVDs use it to for our mission.

In this line, Fr. Soney also pointed out our Strength as SVDs:

  • We have the infrastructure and the personnel.
  • Our diversity and involvement in various kinds of media.
  • Each confrere who is involved in communication is doing his best in the area of his expertise.
  • Our living testimony and witness value
  • Print medium is strong in Europe so also internet publications.


  • We have the structure but sometimes we lack professionalism.
  • Working and collaborating with laity.
  • We need ongoing formation and training as media and the means of media and technology is changing rapidly.
  • How can we work together because we lack trained personnel? And how can we work together within the Zones or Sub – Zones?
  • Communication activity should be a collective effort, not one man’s toil.
  • We need to work hand in hand with other dimensions.
  • Continuity is a major challenge in many of our provinces. Continuity today does not mean carrying out what has been done in the past but adapting to the signs of the time and evolve and embrace new ways and means of doing the mission.
  • Often persons who are trained and working in the field are moved to other ministries or are taken to administration.
  • Communication should be introduced in our formation and proper encouragement be given at the early stage of formation itself.

Activities initiated

  • 'iGod Today' daily reflection in Spanish.
  • The contributing Provinces are: USW, CAM, PAR, ARE, USC, ESP
  • SVD World website
  • iGod Today 24 hour web streaming channel

iGod Today Channel

  • Now we use our existing programs. We are inviting producers. We are also having a contest for the youth and young adults to produce programs based on the year of faith.
  • We are using the videos that were submitted for the General Chapter.
  • Some confreres have already promised to contribute programs as and when they produce them.
    • SVD World website core team.
    • Building a data base of all the confreres involved in communication
    • Creating a Data Bank
    • Collaborating with our Mission Offices

3. Sharing in the Ministry Level

After the presentation by the Generlate Secretary and Coordinators of Mission, Bible, JPIC and Communication, there was a reporting of the above ministries in the sub-zonal level. The Four Characteristic Dimensions of SVD ministries shared with each other of their activities, difficulties and future plans. This sharing was reported to the Assembly in an Action Plan.

4. Action Plan for the Future

I. Mission


ASPAC four SVD Characteristic Dimensions is such a very good and fruitful event which should be continued in the years to come. It can be made as a three year program for the zone. The participants got a lot of inspirations through the input and report from the generalate prespective that give us the panorama and concern of the whole Society on the four CDs; and the reports, discussion and sharing within the coordinators from each country/sub-zone and inter-characteristic dimensions as well give us a lot of inputs, insight, information and sometimes new understanding and new ways to deal with the responsibily or taks entrusted to us by the Society. It enlarge and strenghten our undertanding of the four charecteristic dimensions integratedly and help us to bring it back to share with our confreres in our respective province/region or sub-zone.

The process and the dinimac in the whole program of the meeting is good. It really help us to actively participate and involve in the whole process.


  1. Create inter-linking sharing among mission secretaries within the ASPAC zone and with the Generalate Mission Secretary at leas once a month (through emails)
  2. Fostering awareness among the confreres that the 4 CDs should be in their life and mission (it is also a part of his responsibility) (care for the missionaries, confrere)
  3. There should be proper trained and preparation for the one appointed to be a mission secretary
  4. Mission secretary should be write for sharing information or stories through the news letter of the province.
  5. Encourage and foster the formation (on mission) for our lay-partners/lay-associates in the next three years (involving the three other CDs).
  6. Creative way of fund raising for mission


  1. The provincial superior/cousel call for the meeting with the 4 CDs regularly, at least once a year; the same meeting also in a level of inter-province or sub-zone level.
  2. Prior to the meeting with the provincial superior/council, the meeting within the four CDs should be done
  3. Promote and encourege the lay-missionaries partner to go to other provinces/region or country for mission (for exposure, assistance in teaching, or other pastoral ministry etc)
  4. Continue sharing resource person and materials (on 4CDs, pastoral and spiritual) materials (themes) of retreat or recollection for the specific group, especially family and youth with the 4 CDs
  5. Create net-working among 4 CDs in the ASPAC zone for sharing informations and materials on the 4 CDs
  6. At lesat once a year mission secretary invite Bible Apostolate Coordinator, JPIC and Communicatio Coordinator to go our formation house to give animation on 4 CD for our seminarians
  7. Formation in 4 CDs to be put into the (yearly) formation programs
  8. Giving talk on AJS and mission to the parishioners (regularly) in collaboration with the AJS Team
  9. Looking for the possibilities for cross-cultural and intercultural mission exposure for the youth/student inter-province or in ASPAC zone (area) – youth missionary group

II. Bible


 The ASPAC Zonal Assembly 2013 opened with the Enthronement of the Sacred Scriptures --- an acknowledgement of its central place to make real the Characteristic Dimensions of the Society of the Divine Word.

The keynote expositions of the Secretaries of the Characteristic Dimensions provided a platform for insightful sharing among the Province Biblical Coordinators.

The Sharing Session was a forum for listening to and learning from one another. These were moments of learning that help fan the flame of dedicated enthusiasm to achieve better the aim of the Ministry.

The group of Provincial Bible Coordinators agreed to have one focus priority from among the priorities put forward by the last SVD General Chapter between this Zonal Assembly and the next : FAMILY AND YOUTH

A DEVELOPING DYNAMIC: This Zonal Assembly in Nonbualamphu has fired up the need to join efforts with the three other Priority Dimensions of the SVD: MISSION ANIMATION, JPIC and COMMUNICATIONS

Workable Action Plan


  • To make use of Province /District / Unit Meetings as opportunities for Bible Sharing among confreres.
  • Help create an attitude of consistency among confreres
  • Facilitate to commit confreres participate in existing on-going Biblical Formation, Conferences. Example: the “Jornada Biblica”.
  • Continue holding Biblical Seminars, pursuing regular Lectio Divina or Biblical Reflections using relevant and practical methods.
  • Suggest to provincials to have a common regular meetings with the Coordinators of the Characteristic Dimensions [CD]
  • Creation of The Biblical Ministry Yahoo Group. To make use of the up-coming SVD Website of the CD


  • Where it may be viable, work with the other CD, the Youth, Parents and other lay leaders organise and conduct Youth Camps.
  • To facilitate the possibility of having Dei Verbum Course in the ASPAC Zone tailored more to the realities and needs of the Zone, and as a Collaborative Project of all the CDs together with Provincial leaders of the Zone.
  • Translations of existing materials from other languages to English, Bahasa, Japanese, Chinese…. And sharing them to other Province’s Biblical Coords.
  • To help initiate the process of translating the Bible to languages still denied of its own Bible translation in collaboration with other knowledgeable and competent translators.
  • Get the collaboration of willing lay partners to create materials for schools.
  • Establish a collaboration with existing Christian/Catholic Marriage Groups to produce relevant and useful materials especially for the year 2014.


Report and Action Plan Report of the proceedings of zonal meeting:

SVD ASPAC zonal meeting held at Nongbualamphu from 4-9th of November 2013 with special focus on four characteristic dimensions of the XVII General Chapter was indeed a unique experience for the JPIC coordinators from ASPAC zone. It was very well organized and gave a platform for all to learn from one another the ways and methods of doing mission with the marginalized. It was an enriching experience to listen to four characteristic dimensions of our society in sharing our mission that helped us to be more rooted in our SVDness (we feeling as SVDs). Today we feel that we have one mission as SVDs with four different characteristic dimensions of mission. JPIC as one of the characteristic dimensions has a transformative effect in our ministry when collaborated with other dimensions. This zonal meeting opened our eyes to the awareness of commonality in our missions and the need to move our confreres to imbibe the same spirit. The presence of Formation secretary from Generalate and VIVAT representative helped us to find ways and means to incorporate the four dimensions into the formation program and to network effectively with VIVAT International.

Action Plans of JPIC Commission

JPIC coordinators from different sub zones drafted action plans that are to be implemented in the coming three years based on the sharing and discussions with four characteristic dimensions of 17th general chapter.

  1. Create a data bank of all JPIC activities at Province, Sub Zone and Zonal level and share with the JPIC Generalate coordinator as well as VIVAT International.
  2. Quarterly video conferencing of all JPIC Sub Zonal coordinators along with the Generalate Coordinator through skype.
  3. Constant sharing of information and reports of JPIC activities among the coordinators.
  4. Migration and human trafficking have been identified as the major issue that needs immediate attention and response at the zonal level. Through the zonal coordinator establish network between sending and receiving PRMs of different countries. We recommend through Execom to the superiors of PRMs to appoint personnel to work exclusively for the migrants both at sending as well as receiving PRMs. (Recommendations 2.1.1)
  5. Special effort to be made to collaborate with lay partners on issues of JPIC.
  6. Organize JPIC retreat for confreres and lay associates and other interested partners in each PRM.
  7. Make JPIC an integral part at every stage of formation.
  8. Organize capacity building programs (training) for JPIC coordinators to equip them with the new ways and means to be effective in the ministry.
  9. Promote internship as well as participation at UN Conference and VIVAT International.

Common interdisciplinary action plan at zonal level

  1. Publish and make known to the world our best practices through the help of communication dimension.
  2. Conduct an evaluation of formation program with coordinators of all four characteristic dimensions in our sub zone to know how each dimension can be effectively integrated into different stages of formation.
  3. Conduct mission animation programs for young confreres on four characteristic dimensions.
  4. Coordinators of all four dimensions could come together at least once a year for sharing and to find ways and means to collaborate with one another in fulfilling our common mission.
  5. Include zonal coordinator for formation also in the video conferencing of JPIC coordinators.


We the the eight socialcommunication coordinators representing India, Indonesia, Philippines, PNG, China, Korea, Viet and Japan gathered at Nongbualamphua from 4th – 8th November. We shared and evaluated our ministry in social communication during last three years.

We listen to and share with confreres who are ministering in other characteric dimensions. We recognnise and share our common concerns and challenges, we call for more collaboration and cooperation in order to enhance our svd identity ministries in a more effective way.

After our discussion, we recommend the following action plans for the provincial/regional level and zonal inter-characteristic dimension level:

  1. For social communication coordinators:
    1. Twice a year a zonal SVD ASPAC e.letter to be published. The content can also be provided from other characterisc dimension coordinators. First edition will be availabe by Feb 2014 (Limited to four pages for each province/region);
    2. Skype conference at 10.00am (Thailand time) on 17th March 2014;
    3. Support and promote the www.svdworld.org.
  2. For the zonal inter-characteristic dimensions:
    1. Animating our confreres to own the characteristic dimensions as an svd identity in order to raise the awareness toward common responsibility;
    2. As far as possible , the characteristic dimension coordinators to be included at the provincial/regional meeting on regular base;
    3. More regular meeting to enhance the collaroration and coperation among the characteristic dimension coordinators in the zone;
    4. Making a project oriented SMART plan (Specific, Measuarable, Attainnable, Reasonable, Time frame) among the characterisc dimension coordinators.

5. Conclusion

The meeting was solemnly concluded with a thanks giving prayer service led by Fr. S.M. Michael and proposing of vote of thanks to Fr. Timothy Norton and his team from the Australian Province for their dedicated and fraternal service to make this meeting successful. The meeting also had several exposure programme to the SVD ministries in Thailand. The participants had an opportunity to visit a Buddhist centre to learn about other religions. The meeting came to an end with a SVD get –together and dinner with cultural programmes at the newly built SVD House in Nong Bua Lampu.

<< Group Photo of the Participants >>

Report by
    Fr. Bernard Espiritu (AUS)
    Fr. Robertus Mirsel (IDE)
    Fr. James Raj (INH)