The Office of Laity and Family started in 1982 as a Committee for Laity, ad experimentum, responding to the felt needs of the times. One of its initial tasks was to assist the Pontifical Council for Laity in organizing the first Laity Meeting for Asia in 1982.
This was followed by the regional Bishops’ Institute for Lay Apostolate (BILA) held in:
- 1984 – BILA 1, Changhua, Taiwan, for East Asia
- 1986 – BILA 2, Bangalore, India, for South Asia
- 1986 – BILA 3, Singapore, for Southeast Asia.
These first 3 BILAs were a venue for dialogue among bishops, priests, religious and lay people. They were occasions to know what programs have been going on to train lay people and to create awareness in their role and vocation.
The portfolio of Family was given to the Office of Laity after the decision of the Central Committee to focus on the Family at the 8th FABC Plenary Assembly 2004. The Ist BILA on Family was held at the Redemptorist Centre, Pattaya, Thailand From 11th to 16th June, 2007 to discover “Avenues/Approaches to Respond to the Challenges in Pastoral Care to Families in the 21st Century”.
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The IV FABC Plenary Assembly in 1986 was on the theme: “The Vocation and Mission of the Laity in the Church and in the World of Asia”. This was directly preparing for the World Synod on the Laity and the bishops examined the roles of the lay faithful in the areas of: politics, the youth, the plight of Asian women, the family, the world of education, the mass media, the world of work, in business and health services. It was during this Assembly that the Committee for the Laity became a full fledged Office of Laity in the FABC, with Fr. Jess Brena SJ as its first Executive Secretary, based in Taipei, Taiwan.1986
After the Synod that sparked the whole Church to reflect and affirm the role of lay people, BILA 4 was held (February, 1988) as a follow up. It was also to look more in depth at Asia’s own journey. This BILA brought together the bishop-chairmen of the Laity commissions in the 14 member Conferences of FABC. They reached a consensus that the two top priorities for the coming years were: Formation and Lay Spirituality. They also asked for concrete examples to allow greater lay participation. In December of that same year, the Office of Laity organized an exposure to the BEC experiences of the Philippines. BILA 4 also commissioned the Office to organize regional BILAs on formation. Thus the next series of BILAS were held:
- 1991 – BILA 5, Macao, for East Asia
- 1992 – BILA 6, Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia for Southeast Asia
- 1993 – BILA 7 meant for South Asia, was postponed as a region but carried out in Pakistan.
These BILAs were asking: How do we prepare our lay people for greater involvement? What type of formation programs will respond to the present demands? These BILAs examined and evaluated the existing formation programs at the diocesan and/or national levels and learnt from them. They were also responding to the 1990 FABC V Bandung statement which asked for formation for the “New Way of Being Church’ facing the challenges of the 1990s (V FABC#8). Given greater emphasis to the Church Social Teachings and the inter-religious dimension of the life in Asia, these BILAs affirmed that formation to bring about change is for all, not only for the lay people, but for the clergy and religious as well.In 1993 the Office of Laity entered a new phase with two lay people heading the office: Ms. Cora Mateo as Executive Secretary, and Mr. Jun Hashimoto as Assistant.The focus was then new set on:
- Church social Teachings and the vocation of the Laity – in their specific areas of living and working, networking with people of other faiths, with emphasis on the implementation of the Social Teachings of the Church.
- Training of Trainers – towards a Participatory Church, a Church that is a “Communion of Communities” using the AsIPApproach.
- Youth – to strengthen the contact among those involved in youth ministry in Asia, to carry out the recommendations given in FABC Plenary Assemblies with regards to youth, allowing the voice of the young to be heard and creating more channels for their participation.
- Women – focusing on issues and concern that affect women and in a particular way, to encourage and offer opportunities for greater recognition and channels of partnership of women and men in carrying out the Church’s mission.
In June 1993, the FABC OL organized in cooperation with the FABC Office of Human Development a Youth Consultation, which recommended that the FABC establish a Desk for Youth within the FABC Office of Laity. Mr. Jun Hashimoto was entrusted with the newly established Youth Desk. One year later, the FABC Office of Laity established a Women’s Desk with Mrs. Virginia Saldanha as its Secretary. From 2004 and 2011 the Youth Desk was ably led by Ms Joy Candelario and in 2012 Fr. Simon Patrick Gomes took over from her till the present. In 2010 the AsIPA Desk was taken over by Dr. Bibiano Joo Hyun Ro to date.
In January 2000 Mrs. Virginia Saldanha took office as Executive Secretary of the Office of Laity and Family and Ms. Cora Mateo continued to work for FABC OLF on AsIPA Desk untill 2009. Ms Wendy Louis took over the AsIPA Desk in 2009 and the Laity & Family & Women’s Desk subsequently from Mrs Saldanha in 2010 till now.
- History and Background
The Youth Desk was organized under the Office of the Laity as the official arm of FABC that responds to the needs and concerns of the youth and youth ministry of Asia, particularly its member Episcopal conferences.
It was established in 1994 after a series of consultations with Asian youth ministers and leaders which started in the WYD 1991 in Czestochowa, Poland. Here, Asian youth delegates dreamed of uniting their efforts toward an Asian response, an Asian voice. This was communicated to the Bishops of the FABC Office of the Laity.
In 1993, a Youth consultation meeting in Bangkok was organized, where the delegates aired as part of their recommendations to FABC to organize a youth commission under the office of the laity so that youth and youth ministers in Asia can be supported and to foster collaboration and networking amongst youth commissions.
Thus in 1994, the Youth Desk was born. This saw forth the succeeding programs and activities for Asian youth and youth ministers:
1997 Youth in the Socio-Economic Development of Asia: A Challenge to Integrate Faith in Youth Life and Work BILA on Youth, Tagaytay Manila “We are the Church” Asian Youth Gathering World Youth Day, France 1999 Asian Youth Journeying with Jesus Towards the Third Millenium Asian Youth Day 1 Asian Youth Ministers’ Meeting 1 Hua Hin, Thailand 2000 God is Near Asian Youth Gathering World Youth Day, Rome 2001 We are called to Sanctity and Solidarity Asian Youth Day 2 Asian Youth Ministers’ Meeting 2 Taipei, Taiwan 2002 Youth of Asia…Salt and Light Asian Youth Gathering World Youth Day, Toronto 2003 Asian Youth for Peace Asian Youth Day 3 Asian Youth Ministers’ Meeting 3 Bangalore, India 2005 Young Asian Magi: Let’s Praise and Worship Asian Youth Gathering World Youth Day, Germany 2006 Youth, Hope of Asian Families Asian Youth Day 4 Asian Youth Ministers’ Meeting 4 Hongkong 2007 Youth Ministry in Asia: Reliving the Emmaus Story Bishops’ Institute for Lay Apostolate (BILA) on Youth Johor, Malaysia 2008 www.sgen.asianyouth Witnessing Worldwide, Spirit Generation, Asian Youth! Asian Youth Gathering World Youth Day, Sydney 2009 YAsia Fiesta: Young Asians Come Together Share the Word, Live the Eucharist Asian Youth Day 5 Asian Youth Ministers’ Meeting 5 Imus, Philippines
These events have created awareness on the enormous gift and capacity of the young in building up the Church of Asia and their role in social transformation.
It has encouraged collaboration and networking among Asian youth ministers. The gatherings were a venue for exchange of experiences and technology in doing youth ministry.
It has deepened youth ministers’ conviction in the ministry and enabled them to widen their vision for the young.For many youth delegates, the experience of Church in the Asian youth events was extraordinary. The sense of unity and solidarity allowed them to understand the church as a community, as a family of faith. The spiritual formation offered by the programs and activities, were Christ encounters for them; meeting him in a relevant way in their young lives and challenging them to renew their lives according to His design.
Goals and Priorities
In March 2004, the Youth Desk initiated a move towards more concrete direction for Asian youth ministry by organizing a consultative body meeting. This was composed of representative youth ministers from the 3 subregions. Together, they began the steps towards building a vision for youth ministry and considering the top priorities of the Youth Desk in the next five years.These are the following:
- Empowering youth ministers towards holistic development of youth by:
- organizing continental and subregional programs based on life and spirituality
- facilitating exchange of programs among countries
- making available a directory of Asian resource persons and centers for formation
- Providing assistance to Episcopal conferences and youth commissions by:
- establishing network among youth commissions
- providing information on youth ministry endeavors within and around Asia (E-mails/websites / newsletter (electronic) )
- raising awareness on youth ministry to bishops, priests and lay people
- Promoting understanding and witnessing to justice, peace and option for the poor by
- establishing links with organizations and movements for justice and peace
- developing a resource center for youth modules on values development and integral spirituality formation
- Youth Desk Team – a small group of people that regularly plans, monitors and sees through all programs of the Youth Desk.
- Consultative Body – composed of subregional representatives regularly consulted by the youth desk for its plans and programs; the term of this body will be until the next AYMM.
- Ad Hoc Teams – organized for specific purposes either selected by the consultative body or recommended by commissions. Their term only last until the end of their particular project or program
- History and Background
- FABC-OSC Bishops’ Meet (BM) annual gathering of Chairman Bishops and Executive Secretaries of Episcopal communication Commissions/Offices in Asia
- Bishops’ Institutes for Social Communication (BISCOM), workshops and training, seminars and animation programs for the bishops and bishops’ conferences personnel on relevant “Church and Social Communication” subjects.
- Roundtables and Consultations among experts on relevant “Church and Social Communication” subjects and themes
- Collaborate with the FABC Central Office for the upkeep of the FABC Website
- FABC-OSC Book Series Publication and collaborate in the publication of “For All the Peoples of Asia” (FABC Documents).
- Radio Veritas Asia: effective planning and guidance for governance, administration, personnel, finance, evaluation, policy formulation and other acts
- Develop and support academic programs through Veritas Asia Institute of Social Communication (VAISCOM) for the pastoral formation of church leaders in Asia
- Network and collaborate with secular and religious media organizations through joint activities.