MR-NET News #9


03 April 2002   

  SVD Mission Research Network  
Mission Secretariat - Rome   

In this bulletin:

1. INM-Mumbai - Second ASPAMIR Symposium

2. INM-Pune - Ishvani Kendra Celebrates Silver Jubilee

3. Kowalik - Informal AFRAM MR-NET Meeting in Rome


From October 14 to 19 the second ASPAMIR Symposium was held in Mumbai. (The first was held at Nanzan in 1997). ASPAMIR is the SVD Asia-Pacific Association of Mission Researchers and it seeks to encourage mission researchers and to promote practical, multidisciplinary mission research in the ASPAC zone.

The turnout for the symposium was quite good. Indonesia was represented by five participants, four of whom presented papers. India was represented by nine participants in total -- two Indian confreres from the Japan province, and seven from the Indian provinces themselves. Happily, Vietnam was represented for the first time. It was particularly encouraging to note the number of new, younger confreres who participated in the symposium. That bodes well for the future of the organization and for the future of SVD mission research in the zone.

Nineteen papers were presented and they did a fair job of developing the theme Urbanization and Mission in Asia and the Pacific. The proceedings will be published in book form. To my mind, the contributions from the social sciences had more to say on the topic than those working from a theological/missiological perspective. In addition to the papers, a number of case studies were presented. J. Trong presented an excellent description of the situation in Vietnam, Brian Lawless did a fine job on Hong Kong and S.M. Michael made an interesting presentation on the Mumbai archdiocesan synod. These "cases" invited a more practical approach to mission research in the urban environment. 

The business meeting was handled very efficiently. Ten new members to ASPAMIR were admitted; and a new president was elected in a close race -- Pat Gesch from PNG was elected on a third ballot. The next symposium is being proposed for Divine Word University in Madang in 2005. The topic for the symposium will be decided by the MER team [Mission Education and Research] after consultation with the provincials of the zone, however, the suggestion with the most support was Mission in Situations of Violence.

[For more information contact Bob Kisala, the ASPAC coordinator at and/or contact Pat Gesch, the ASPAMIR president at]

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A colloquium to celebrate the Silver Jubilee of Ishvani Kendra was held from 24 to 27 October 2001 in Pune. The turnout of participants was very good, about eighty participants for the four days. The SVD was very well represented, not only by members of Ishvani Kendra and some of the confreres from the seminary, but also by visitors from other Asia Pacific provinces. Since the ASPAMIR meeting was held the previous week, a number of SVD MR-NET members were invited to the colloquium. Among these, quite a number presented papers, including John Prior, Ben Beltran, Phil Gibbs and Ennio Mantovani. (Altogether there were about 20 SVD's and 2 SSpS present as colloquium participants.) 

I was really quite impressed by the liturgies that accompanied the days of the colloquium. They were consistently well planned and very prayerful. The integration of music (provided in part by seminarians) symbols and the experiences of the participants in the colloquium was quite outstanding. I generally find such careful attention to liturgy and prayer to be quite rare at academic conferences and so it is all the more commendable that the Ishvani Kendra staff took such care in this area.

During the inaugural session of the colloquium, chaired by Pune Bishop Valerian D'Souza, the Ishvani Kendra director, Thomas Malipurathu welcomed the participants and pointed out that the Institute's 25 years of service is a testimony to a relentless effort to popularaze new and relevant ways of thinking and doing mission. The jubilee colloquium, he maintained, was an effort to take the debate to an international level. The conference hall was packed with over 80 participants in attendace. Tom Ascheman, the SVD Secretary for Mission, gave the keynote address entitled "Mission from the Heart of the Church: Water, Worship and Harvest." 

With the following session began the presentation of papers by scholars. There were seven main papers:

  • Ben Beltran SVD from the Philippines - "Searching for God in the Asphalt Jungles: Towards a Trinitarian Theology of the City." 

  • John Prior SVD from Indonesia - "The Locus of MIsison in Indonesia Today: Birthing Militant Communities of Compassion." 

  • Fr. Thomas Kocherry, CSsR from India - "My Vision of Mission in India: A Personal Mission and a Global Vision."

  • Prof. Elisabeth Schuessler-Fiorenza from the USA - "Wo/Men, Mission and the Catholicity of Theology."

  • Prof. Gabriele Dietrich from India - "Inculturation vs. Globalization: A Reflection from the Indian Context." 

  • Prof. Paul F. Knitter (ex-SVD) from the USA - "The Abiding Task of the Church in Mission: To Proclaim the Uniqueness of Jesus."

  • Dr. Albert Namiaparambil, CMI from India - "Formation of Interfaith Communities: The Task Ahead."

  • The last days of the colloquium were spent in producing a concluding statement that attempts to express some of the insights that emerged during the colloquium. The process leading up to the document did prove to be an effective way to get people to discuss the ideas proposed during the major presentations. The final version of the concluding statement proposed four major categories for an understanding of mission: 

    1. Justice and Reconciliation
    2. Christ as Kenotic Liberator
    3. A Discipleship of Equals
    4. Mission as Prophetic Dialogue

    The work of the Ishvani Kendra staff to prepare and conduct the Symposium was truly outstanding. Special congratulations to the Director, Thomas Malipurathu; to the Program Coordinator, Stanislaus Lazar; to the Communications Coordinator, Edwin Vaz; and to the Business Manager, Tomy Perumprayil. Fr. Engelbert Zeitler would have been proud to see his project in the able hands of such confreres.

    [For more information and/or for a copy of the proceedings please contact Ishvani Kendra at
    The concluding statement of the colloquium is available at the SEDOS website:
    The keynote address by Tom Ascheman is also available at the SEDOS website:]

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    Marek Kowalik, the MR-NET coordinator for AFRAM gives the following report on an informal meeting of mission researchers from AFRAM held toward the end of last year.

    "On 29 September 2001, Fr. Tom Ascheman organized a meeting in Rome for the following confreres from the AFRAM zone: Hugo Tewes (the current AFRAM zonal coordinator), Gerd Lesch (the previous AFRAM zonal coordinator), Emmanuel K. Fiannu (AFRAM coordinator for formation), Leopoldo K. Ditona (Congo), Zdzislaw Grad (Madagascar), Daniel Malamba (Mozambique) and myself, Marek Kowalik (Ghana, AFRAM MR-NET coordinator). All of us were in Rome for different meetings or because they are doing studies there. 

    "We discussed several issues and shared views and experiences concerning mission animation and mission research in Africa. Foremost, we considered ways and means by which our confreres can promote, support and cooperate in the work of the AFRAM MR-NET (SVD Mission Research Network.)

    "With an 'almost complete doctorate' and my imminent return to Africa uppermost in my mind, my impression of the meeting was that the SVD MR-NET is a new and important aspect of our missionary work. Though not many confreres are well acquainted with this new initiative, as they get involved and share some of their experiences, they come to see the importance of working together. The more they contribute, the more they realize that it is not just for specialists. Confreres engaged in day-to-day missionary activities are making their presence felt. This is encouraging since they are closest to their people and know their real needs. This gives us hope for the future and I intend to put in my 'two-cents worth' (Lire? Euro?) myself."

    [For more information contact Marek Kowalik at]

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    For information about MR-NET activities in your Zone contact:   Send Notices for MR-NET News to:

      AFRAM - Marek Kowalik SVD 

      ASPAC - Robert Kisala SVD 

      EUROPA - Heribert Bettscheider SVD 

      PANAM - Christian Tauchner SVD 

      Mission Secretary  
    Tom Ascheman SVD   

    SVD Mission Research Network