The Central Committee established the Office in 1977 with Bishop Patrick D'Souza of Varanasi, India, as its Chairman. He continued as a one member Committee till 1979, when it was set up with five members.
History and Background
Historical Notes on FABC Office of Mission/Evangelization
- The Central Committee established the Office in 1977 with Bishop Patrick D’Souza of Varanasi, India, as its Chairman. He continued as a one member Committee till 1979, when it was set up with five members.
- The first meeting of the FABC Secretariat for Apostolate and Missions was held on October 22, 1977 in the Collegio Urbano, Rome on the occasion of the Synod of Bishops on Catechesis. The purpose of the meeting was to draw up the outlines of a systematic plan of action for the FABC/M. It was a Consultation with five participants, Bishop Patrick D’Souza as Chairman of the FABC/M and Fr. Engelbert Zeitler, SVD as its Secretary, operating from Pune, India.
- This Consultation proposed among other things BIMAs (Bishops’ Institute for Missionary Apostolate) or zonal meetings of the type of BISAs:
A meeting of 7 experts representing the 3 Zones was held on December 10, 1977 to prepare a draft on BIMAs. The First BIMA was held in Baguio, Philippines from July 19-27, 1979. BIMA II was held in Trivandrum, India from November 22-30, 1980 for South Asia. BIMA III was held in Changhila, Taiwan from 17-25 August 1982. The objectives of BIMAs are:
- To identify basic missionary problems of the local Churches and regions and to relate them to wider issues in an Asian context.
- To point out the possible solutions.
- To animate the participants for missionary action.
- To create a sense of solidarity and co-responsibility among the Asian Churches while at the same time inculcating the principle of subsidiarity according to which every Church must be allowed to function on its own strength and be helped to the extent needed.
The BIMA IV was a Consultation on Islam. And it was a joint effort of BIMA and BIRA, but the Office of Mission was responsible for its organization. It was organized by the Islamic Studies Association, India from 23-25 November 1983.
- A planning sessio for the Mission Section of the FABC was held in Manila on December 4, 1979 in connection with Manila World Mission Congress attended by Bishop Patrick D’Souza, Chairman; Fr. Edward Malone, Dy. Secretary General, FABC, and Fr. E. Zeitler, SVD, Secretary of FABC/M. It drew up the future plans for missionary action, which were finalized at the first Joint Planning Meeting of the FABC Offices, July 13-16, 1981 in Hong Kong.
- A meeting of the FABC Office of Missions was held in Hong Kong in 1980 to review its identity and the terms of reference, and plan for the next two years.
- A planning session of the FABC Office of Mission organized at Majowe Centre, Plentong on 15 June 1983 was attended by 5 Bishops including Bishop Patrick D’Souza, Chairman and Fr. E. Zeitler, Secretary. At this meeting a proposal was made to change the name of the Office to Office for Evangelization. Reasons for change: There was general dissatisfaction with the present name “Office of Missions”. “Mission” is not used any more after Evangelii Nuntiandi. It has also a pejorative connotation in many Asian countries. The new proposal: “OFFICE FOR EVANGELIZATION”. This is also the present name for the “Mission Office” of the Church in Rome and has no negative connotations. It is not the ideal name either, but for our purpose it is good enough.
- The Report of the Office for Mission at the Joint Meeting of FABC Offices in Korea, May 7-9, 1984, among other things mentioned that :
- A systematic documentation be made on the work of evangelization in Asia. The Ishvani Kendra Centre in India has started a library, covering Churches and countries of the FABC (so far a thousand books). The Report of the Office given on 15 June 1983 for the period from 1981-82, speaks of Ishvani Kendra as a missiological research, training and orientation center in Pune, India presently also acting as Secretariat of the Mission Office is building up a missiological library (at present 10,000 volumes) with specialization on Asia and a documentation center, and has already established an audio visual center for the missions. In due time similar arrangements elsewhere will fill up a long felt information gap concerning Churches in Asia.
- This office should think of those areas which at present are not the primary responsibility of any office as it did for Laity in 1977, before the Committee for the Laity was set up. One such area now is priestly formation, initial and continued.
- The question of a full time secretary is a complicated one. Is he the secretary of the Chairman or of the Office, one who continues even when the Chairman is changed? How can a Secretary function far away from the Chairman? Could we encourage the Secretary to build up a Secretariat?
- All BIMAs, specially the consultation on Islam, have shown the importance of an integrated approach to ministry. Though each office has its own specific area of concern, the theme selected for reflection by one office, affects, often substantially, the other offices as well. Hence the need of collaboration. Consequently, the common meeting of all offices assumes a particular importance.
- Fr. Ed Malone, writing to Fr. Sebastian Karotemprel, successor of Fr. E Zeitler, on 31 March 1988, said: “I think we should settle on the name of your office as ‘Office of Evangelization'”.
- A meeting of the FABC Office of Evangelization was held on 16 January 2001, on the occasion of the FABC Central Committee meeting at the Archdiocesan Formation Center, Baan Phu Waan, Samphran. It discussed and finalized the plans for the next three years.
The Church is Missionary by nature. She is the sacrament of salvation and she exists in order to evangelize. In this sense, all that the Church is and does is evangelization. However, since there are other FABC Offices, which take care of the different aspects of evangelization, the Office of Evangelization is specifically concerned about the explicit proclamation of the Good News. This it intends to do through its four Desks, namely on Mission, Bible, Liturgy, and Missionary Formation of Children. The Desk on Mission has been just started in response to the instruction of the Congregation for the Propagation of Faith, Cooperatio missionalis. All its activities are of motivational, informative and inspirational nature, acting mainly through the Episcopal Conferences:
1. Missions Desk
A Desk has been created within the FABC-OE under the name of “Missions Desk”, following an instruction of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples on Missionary Cooperation. This will be the proper responsibility of the Secretariat along with the general operation of the Office.
Its objectives are:
to assist to realize the goals of the Instruction Cooperatio missionalis;
to assist in particular the Central Asian Churches (Associate members of the FABC);
to assist the member Conferences in realizing their mission ad gentes and ad exteros;
to assist the various institutes of consecrated life, societies of apostolic life, lay associations, Christian movements, volunteer groups and others to integrate their efforts on missionary cooperation.
2. Missionary Formation of Children
The Child population in Asia averages nearly 1/3 of the total number of people living in our continent. This vast continent is still to receive the Good News that God loves them and has sent His only Son to save them from sin and death. The challenge of evangelization in Asia is truly phenomenal indeed. His Holiness Pope John Paul II makes special mention of this responsibility of the Church when he says:
“Within the territories entrusted to these Churches – particularly in Asia… there remain vast regions still to be evangelized” (RM. 37). And again, “Particularly in Asia towards which the Church’s mission ad gentes ought to be chiefly directed, Christians are a small minority” (RM. 37).
This responsibility devolves on all Christians and since the children are the future evangelizers of this continent and their numbers are a blessing to the Church, their formation has to receive our priority attention. Responding to the call of our universal Shepherd we should strive to imbibe a strong missionary spirit in our children and they will become the missionaries of Asia tomorrow.
It is, therefore, necessary to organize a special programme for this purpose so that from their tender age Asian Catholic children learn to exercise their full Christian commitment by being missionaries of Jesus.
The special Desk for the Missionary Formation of Children established recently under the FABC-OE will soon start organizing different activities towards assisting the local Churches in Asia in this regard. The central Office is to be located in Colombo at the Secretariat of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference.
The Office will seek to co-ordinate these programmes with the different Episcopal Commissions for Evangelization and the National Directors of the Pontifical Mission Societies in Asia.
3. Biblical Desk
Asian Mission Congress Concludes with Message and Recommendations
Chiang Mai October 22, 2006 – The Asian Mission Congress in Lotus Hotel, Chiang Mai concluded with a message. Like the first disciples of Jesus the message also states “we have seen the Lord” (Jn 20:18) The message in the name of participants from “Lebanon to Japan, from Kazakhstan and Mongolia to Indonesia” heard “inspiring stories to numerous to count, stories of life, faith, heroism, service, prayerm dialogue and proclamation. An infectious mood of joy pervaded us.”