As a result of the previous communication happened between Malaysian Catholic Church leaders and the IMCS representatives, IMCS Asia Pacific coordination could have a successful discussion to to strengthen the relationship between IMCS and Malaysian Catholic youth ministry. On 16th of January 2017 IMCS Asia Pacific Coordinator Ravi Tissera and the Asia Pacific Chaplain Anne Beatrice got the opportunity to meet the representatives of the Malaysian catholic youth commission. Bishop Simon Poh the patron of Malaysian catholic youth commission and Bishop of Kuching Diocese, Fr. Gregory Chan the director of Archdiocesan Single Adults & Youth Ministry (ASAYO) from Kuala Lumpur Diocese and Deacon Adrian Ng from Malakka Johor Diocese participated the meeting as the representatives of the Malaysian Catholic youth ministry.
During the meeting representatives discussed about the previous connection of the IMCS with the Malaysian Catholic Youth and how the current affairs needs to be articulated in a much productive way. Finally Malaysian Catholic Youth Ministry representatives agreed to start the communication with IMCS as a contact group with the hope to consider the full membership of the organization in the coming years. Since the previous youth organization has not been functioning since year 2012, Catholic Youth Ministry leaders came to a decision to formally inform about the nonexistence of the previous group to IMCS and to give a fresh start to the movement as a new group.
On the 11 th of December 2016, Adrian Pereira, the former IMCS AP coordinator(2007-2009) had an opportunity to share his experience of working in the field of Human Rights with Bangladesh Catholic Students Movement (BCSM).BCSM is the Bangladeshi affiliate of IMCS AP(please add full form) The programme took place at The Catholic Bishops' Conference Of Bangladesh and was organized by the BCSM president, William Nokrek and his committee. Adrian , who hails from Malaysia currently runs a social justice consortium called the North South Initiative(NSI) which is based in Petaling Jaya, Malaysia. Adrian came to Bangladesh to be part of the Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD) civil society initiatives as invited by his partners, Migrant Forum in Asia(MFA).
During the his sharing with the students , various human rights related topics emerged such as Islamophobia, racism ,poverty, fundamentalism, migration, gender justice, minority issues, the Rohingyas, Bangladeshi liberation history and Pakistan- Bangladesh relationship. As Catholics in Bangladesh are minority, Adrian challenged the Catholic students to break out of their victim and minority complex as it hindered their growth and full potential. Even though they are minority(0.3%) in a country of almost 160 million, Bangladeshi Catholics have a lot of privileges to enjoy such as better private education in missionary schools, opportunities to study abroad with scholarships, and affiliation to movements like Pax Romana and Caritas. And at the same time, it was vital for Bangladeshi Catholics to think twice before leaving the country as migrant workers to avoid brain drain and to ensure that there is a continuous leadership to guide the future generations of BCSM leaders. Adrian also said that to give space for women leaders to progress in Bangladesh, the men must vacate their leadership to ensure women have a boost.
Adrian thanked the BCSM leaders , especial their president, Mr William for the opportunity to raise challenging topics related to human rights. He hopes that BCSM will continue the discussions on human rights and even organize more human rights training for the local Bangladeshi students. During his stay, Adrian also got the opportunity to meet and exchange ideas with the past presidents and secretaries of BCSM, the Caritas Bangladesh leadership, Action for Catholic Professionals, Future Watch Movement, the Dhaka BCSM Chaplain, the Catholic Youth Commission and others. Adrian wishes that the Catholic Church of Bangladesh continue to be a beacon of hope and justice, not just to Catholics, but to other citizens in Bangladesh.And for this to happen, the Catholic Church in Bangladesh must network and build solidarity with many other progressive groups in Bangladesh and globally. Adrian can be contacted at email@example.com.
Representatives of the partner organizations of the “Asian Lay Leaders Forum” (ALL Forum) gathered in the Manila Archdiocese Office on 24th of November 2016 to officiate the organization as an nonprofit organization in Philippines. ALL Forum is a contextualized and praxis-centered collaboration among five partners: social issues – specialty of Woori Theology Institute based in Seoul, pastoral and lay-centered Institute of Formation-Fondacio Asia (IFFA) based in Manila, and mystical eco-spirituality and Asian-wisdom sensitive Jesuit Center for Indigenous Ministry (JCIM) & Research &Training Center for Religio-cultural Community (RTRC) based in Manila and Chiang Mai, and university-students-empowering Pax Romana – International Movement of Catholic Students (IMCS) Asia Pacific based in Manila. It incorporates and develops some of their existing programs and initiatives for greater synergy for the globalizing Church of Asia. As IMCS – Pax Romana we are glad about this new collaboration as it will help us to fulfill our mission to bring the message of justice and peace as lay student missionaries. And also it was a special occasion for IMCS as all the representatives from collaborative organizations had been engaged with IMCS – Pax Romana as students during their college days or as chaplains. ALL Forum will work as a pioneer of Lay Leaders’ training in the coming years being true to the name of the organization under the patronage of Arch Bishop of Manila, Luis Antonio G. Cardinal Tagle and the guidance of Archbishop of the Metropolitan Archdiocese of Cagayan de Oro Antonio Javellana Ledesma, S.J., D.D., and Bishop of Bangued Leopoldo C. Jaucian, SVD, D.D.
IMCS Asia Pacific coordinator could meet the IMCS students groups based in Bangkok Thailand. Myanmar Young Catholic Students (MYCS) based in Bangkok had the meeting on 27th of August 2016 in Assumption University. The current president of MYCS Helen Zar Zar and the former president Agnes Mary participated the meeting with some other MYCS members. During the meeting they discussed about the possibilities of having a better collaboration with the international movement as a group of post graduate students movement. Further MYCS members shared the experiences about their ongoing project with the Migrant workers children in Bangkok. They had successfully conducted regular classes for the children of Myanmar migrant workers.
On 28th of August 2016 Catholic Students Network of Thailand (CSNT) met the AP coordinator in their national office in Xavier Hall Church in Bangkok. CSNT Chaplain Fr. Beda Yassao SJ and the student leaders participated the meeting. CSNT leaders took the opportunity to explain the annual calendar of the national movement and to understand more about the international movement. As a movement with decades long history CSNT explained their nationwide events which are encouraging students to understand the contemporary issues and address them critically. With the guidance of Jesuit chaplains CSNT has come a long way the students’ faith activism.
AYA/ATF (Asian Youth Academy / Asian Theology Forum) 2016 was conducted in Suratthani Diocese Pastoral Centre, Phuket, Thailand from 17th to 26th August 2016 with the participants from more than 10 countries under the theme of “Peace, Sustainable Development and Ecological Justice with Special Focus on Migrants and Refugees in Asia “. AYA/ATF 2016 was organized by the ALL Forum which is an organization co-founded and partnered by IMCS Asia Pacific.
International Movement of Catholic Students – Asia Pacific region conducted the 2016 East Asia Sub regional programme (EAP 2016) in the Catholic Youth Center in Seoul, South Korea from 16th to 22nd September 2016 with the participation of students from member movements in the region such as WAKAGE-Japan, Hong Kong Federation of Catholic Students (HKFCS) and host movement of the programme, Seoul Federation of Catholic Students (SFCS) and Asia Pacific coordinator Ravi Tissera representing the IMCS.
EAP 2016 was conducted under the theme of “Being a Sincere Catholic youth in Injustice of Capitalism”. Programme was successfully conducted with lectures, immersion, discussions and experience sharing from the alumni of the student movement related to the theme.