QUEZON CITY, Philippines.
St. Pedro Poveda College, Quezon City (Philippines) was the venue for an international conference from April 1-3, 2017 on the theme “Critical Personnel Issues. Asia: Today’s Challenges and Perspective”. It was a important endeavor in these times as the Church in Asia undergoes deep and significant change. The gathering included 82 participants from Australia, Guam, Indonesia, Japan, Jordan, Hong Kong, Macau, Singapore, Taiwan and the Philippines.
This conference was uniquely structured to leaders in the Church - clergy, religious women and men and committed laity by providing them with knowledge, insights, skills and practical strategies regarding complex personnel issues and challenges that beset community living and ministry. The conference offered ideas and insights so that they can lead effectively through critical mental health, placement and personnel concerns. It was conducted as an experience of engagement and exchange.
The conference was led by Southdown Institute (Ontario, Canada), a residential treatment facility that provides the highest level of restorative care as it responds to the needs of clergy and vowed religious by providing a breadth of services including assessment, residential treatment, continuing care follow-up, and outpatient psychological counseling and spiritual direction. The clinicians from Southdown presented the following topics: Comprehensive Mental Health Assessment, Navigating Difficult Personalities, Forming a Healthy Sexual Identity, Unlocking Addictions and Spirituality and Leadership.
The TA Sector XI (through the entity Teresian Association International, Inc.) and the De La Salle Brothers-Lasallian East Asia District had joined forces to make this conference a reality. The abiding sense of gratitude and wonder for the presence of the Spirit, moving among the participants and among us, members of the Teresian Association and those who served the conference gave focus on how to hold our sufferings, to embrace critical behavioral change, to provide skills and resources for healing and transformation.
In a particular way, the said conference brought a keen awareness of our human condition, by whatever name, manifest in the anger, frustration, addictions, and human woundedness and brokenness. The understanding, learning, and the raising of awareness challenge us to attend to those human struggles with compassion, tenderness, and encouragement. This, however, is not a completed journey. We move forward as Asian Church, anticipating “springs of the great deep” to burst forth, challenging us to meet the “thirsts of the world.”
Indeed, the three-day conference as well as the early evening encounters of TA participants for exchange, deepening and integration of the topics was a journey that held both promise and hope. We received the gift of the presence of those who accompanied us with deep listening and growing understanding. We shared our dream for a community, for a church where our sisters and brothers who long for mercy, peace, and justice find a home in these changing and challenging times.
Febe Aguirre y Pilar Ferrer, dfrom the Philippines
Photos: Bu Villanueva