In response to the call of our Holy Father from his encyclical, Laudato Si and in caring for our common home, the Student Catholic Action of the Philippines, celebrating its 80th year anniversary (Oak Celebration) and the Diocese of Tagbilaran in their 75th year anniversary (Diamond Jubilee) organized the Earth Keepers summit (e-summit) for ME (Mother Earth) in Tagbilaran City of beautiful island of Bohol from 10th to 13th of November 2016 under the theme of “Taking a closer look at our Common Home with a Diamond and an Oak).
Three days programme was filled with awareness making exposures to the sites damaged by the 7.2 magnitude earthquake in 2013, lectures by the environmentalists , activists and religious reflections about Mother Earth. Students representing all the regions of Philippines participated the event. Fabrice Seka and Vester Akpanza from the IMCS national movement of Ivory Coast participated the event with the international solidarity and IMCS Asia Pacific Coordinator Ravi Tissera, former IMCS international president Mehul Dhabi and former IMCS Asia Pacific Chaplain Fr. Jojo Fung SJ contributed to the summit as panelists and speakers.
Habitat III is the United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development. Habitat III offers Member States an opportunity to discuss a New Urban Agenda that will focus on policies and strategies that can result in effectively harnessing the power and forces behind urbanization. Preparatory Committee 3 for Habitat III was help in Surabaya, Indonesia on 25-27 July 2016.
Since IMCS had been involved with Habitat III process through the UN Major Group of Children and Youth since the beginning, IMCS members could contribute to the PrepCom 3 as well. IMCS UN Advocacy Team Coordinator, Christopher Dekki , IMCS Asia Pacific Coordinator Ravi Tissera and the members of Indonesian IMCS national movement, PMKRI participated the event contributing to side events as panelists and in advocacy. It was a good opportunity for local IMCS members to observe and learn about the United Nations system and the international advocacy.
Migration, over the past years has become an inevitable phenomenon. This is very true, particularly with Asian countries where many are labor sending countries, and interestingly, some of which are receiving countries. Asia is also a land in which diverse forms of migration can be seen- from climate refugees, labor migrants, marriage migrants, to cite a few. Due to this, ecumenical young people and students are concerned with the thought that the kind of migration we have now is forced, if not enforced. And so, we continue to become discerning Christians by studying this particular issue.
The International Movement of Catholic Students – Asia Pacific (IMCS-AP), Kalipunan ng Kristiyanong Kabataan sa Pilipinas (KKKP) and the National Council of Churches in the Philippines (NCCP) held a Youth Café under the theme of “ The stories within and Outside Borders : Migration in Asia” on May 21, 2016, at the Church of the Risen Lord in University of Philippines, Diliman, Quezon City. More than 50 Young people from different groups participated the programme and speakers from Migrant Forum Asia (MFA), Migrante shared their insights and some victims who faced violence and abuses as migrant workers shared their stories, opening the practical realities to the participants. Pastor Norma Dollaga from the NCCP shared her theological insights about the issue as a theologian and an activist who have closely worked with victims of migration related issues.
Asia Pacific Lay chaplain Anne Beatrice and Coordinator Ravi Tissera met the Most Rev. Julian Leow, Archbishop of Kuala Lumpur in his residence in the capital of Malaysia on 1st of September 2016.
During the meeting Archbishop was keen to know about the historical relationship between the Malaysian student movement and the international movement and also he wanted to know about the uniqueness of the movement. IMCS Asia Pacific delegation explained the interest of the movement to strengthen the working relationships further with the Malaysian students and Archbishop was pleased about the interest of the international students’ community to accompany the local students’ movement. Archbishop extended his wishes and the blessings to the movement and encouraged the delegates to keep moving the dialogue with the Malaysian Youth Ministry for a wider and productive outcome in the future.
IMCS Asia Pacific coordination got the opportunity to participate such effort of the French artist Nicolas Ciarlone. During a one week in June 2016 he had painted several abstract murals in different places of San Roque, an urban poor area of Metro Manila, the Philippines. This project aimed to support the inhabitants of the San Roque in their struggle against the scheduled demolition of their neighbourhood, due to a private and governmental project which aims to turn the place in a new business and commuting centre.
San Roque is one of numerous urban poor areas located in Quezon City, a part of Metro Manila. The urban poor organization KADAMAY in San Roque has been organizing community members so that they may collectively combat poverty by fighting for jobs with living wages and humane conditions, which they believe is the way to keep poor people away from using/selling drugs. Like most of the urban poor areas of Manila, San Roque has Hundreds of poor Filipino families are living there, trying to make a living in very precarious living conditions. Migrants from all over the Philippines are piling in cubocubo, small houses made of everything, mirroring the patchwork of languages, culinary and religious habits of the San Roque inhabitants. The goal of the art project conducted by Nicolas Ciarlone was to use painting as a political and an educational tool, in order to support the struggle for the inhabitants of San Roque in their legitimate fight for a livelihood.
New Asia Pacific Coordinator met the Chaplains and the patron bishop of Sri Lanka University Catholic Students Movement (SLUCSM) on 19th January 2016 in the Arch Bishop’s House in Colombo, Sri Lanka. During the meeting chaplains wished the new coordinator for his mission in IMCS and discussed the possibilities to collaborate more with the international students’ movement. Further the chaplains discussed about establishing a national coordination as SLUCSM has only a national movement at the moment. The previous national secretariat was dissolved in 80s by the Sri Lankan Bishop’s conference due to the coordination difficulties.
(Left to right – Ravi Tissera (AP Coordinator), Fr. Dimuthu Fonseka (Chaplain – Wayamba University of Wayamba) , Rt. Rev. Dr. Maxwell Silva (Auxiliary Bishop of Colombo), Fr. Claude Perera O.M.I. (Chaplain of University of Peradeniya), Fr. Jude Chrysantha (Chaplain of Colombo Region), Fr. Bennette Mellawa (Chaplain of University of Rajarata), Fr. Damien Arsakularatne (Chaplain of University of Ruhuna))
Students of St. Xavier’s College of Maitigar, Kathmandu have celebrated the Holy mass, marking the official start of an IMCS movement in the Nepal on 16th of November 2016. IMCS has had connections with Nepali students for few decades and during the past few years the connections had been disrupted and a new initiative had been needed for years.
Previously the Nepalese student movement was based in the parish level. With the permission of Apostolic Vicar of Nepal, Bishop Paul Simick and the principal of St. Xavier’s College, Fr. Jiju Varghese S.J., thorough this new initiative, catholic students will have the opportunity to join with the international catholic students to continue their faith in actions to contribute to the IMCS global mission of a world of justice and peace. Fr. Jomon Jose, the chaplain of the IMCS Nepal joined with the students to celebrate the Holy Mass and to guide the initial meeting of the student movement.
IMCS Secretary General Ms. Evelina Manola and IMCS Asia Pacific Coordinator Mr. Ravi Tissera got the opportunity to meet Most Rev. Paul Simick, the Vicar Apostolic of Nepal on 23rd of October 2016 during their visit to Kathmandu, Nepal. IMCS representatives were warmly welcomed with local custom of handing over Khada shawls by Bishop Simick in the Assumption Church, the Cathedral of Kathmandu.
As the IMCS had lost the connections with the Nepali Catholic students in the past few years, representatives of IMCS had requested this long awaited meeting with the shepherd of Nepali Catholics. Being an alumnus of AICUF (All India Catholic Undergraduate Federation) the IMCS member of movement of India during his college days, Bishop Simick conveyed his gratitude to the IMCS about taking the interest to continue the mission with the Nepali students and gave his blessings to initiate the movement again in the Nepal among undergraduate level catholic students. IMCS representatives could meet Fr. Jiju Varghese, S.J. the principal and Fr. Jomon Jose, S.J. of St. Xavier’s College to discuss further about the initiative.
Under the theme “Invocating Christian Leadership Service and Mercy” Bangladesh Catholic Students Movement has celebrated their 25th anniversary on 13-14 October,2016 at CBCB (Cathoilic Bishops Conference of Bangladesh) center in the capital city Dhaka.
The first cardinal of Bangladesh Archbishop Patrick D Rozario CSC, Apostolic Nuncio to Bangladesh Archbishop George Kocherry, chairman of Episcopal youth Commission Bishop Lawrence Subrato Hawlader CSC, IMCS General Secretary Ms. Evelina Manola and IMCS Asia Pacific Coordinator Mr. Ravi Tissera joined with the Bangladeshi students to celebrate the memorable milestone of the Bangladesh Catholic Students Movement.
IMCS Asia Pacific Coordination transmission meeting was held in the regional house in Las Pinas city in Philippines from 29th to 31st January 2016. Former and the new teams of IMCS Asia Pacific regional coordination participated the three days long meeting and the duties were handed over to the new coordination team. During the meeting previous coordination’s mission was reviewed and former team shared their experiences and challenges they faced during the past three years. New regional team will be accompanied by the former team for a three months time for the purpose of transmission of memory.
(Former and the new Asia Pacific regional teams appeared for a photo. From left to right – Ravi Tissera (New Coordinator – Sri Lanka), Felicia Dian (Former Coordinator – Indonesia), Ruki Fernando (New Lay Chaplain – Sri Lanka), Runrana Suksamer (Intern), Anne Beatrice (New Lay Chaplain – Malaysia), Rev. Fr. Dr. Jojo Fung S.J. (Former Chaplain – Malaysia), Rev. Fr. Bonifacius Boro Bin Ola (New Chaplain – Indonesia))