The work of charity promoted by Caritas becomes a space for dialogue of life, promoting solidarity and common humanity, leading to the promotion of authentic human development
--Michel Roy, Asia Regional Conference, 2019
The annual Regional Conference of Caritas Asia took place on 20–21 March 2019 in Bangkok, Thailand. The conference attracted a total of 61 participants coming from 23 Caritas Member Organizations in Asia as well as from emerging member organizations and Caritas Internationalis. Themed “Committed Together for A Better Future”, the conference served as an occasion for the Caritas family to revisit the unique collaboration of working together in the confederation.
The Caritas Asia Regional Conference is normally held every June of every year in Bangkok, alongside the Regional Partners’ Forum, garnering a broader participation from the MOs, the Caritas Global Partners, and other networks in Asia. This year, however, the Regional Conference was held earlier, in order to prepare the region for the 21st Caritas Internationalis General Assembly, which will be held on 23-28 May 2019 in Rome. In particular, the Regional Conference this year paved the way for the Caritas Confederation in Asia to elect its new Regional President and appoint the new members of the Regional Commission, as well as the region’s representative to the CI Representative Council, for the period covering 2019 - 2022.
At the opening ceremony, Archbishop Isao Kikuchi, President of Caritas Asia, welcomed the participants and expressed his gratitude for their attendance. He acknowledged the presence of the representatives of the Catholic Bishop Conference of Malaysia-Singapore-Brunei Darussalam, as well as participants from the Catholic Social Services of main land China. He led the participants in a prayerful moment of silence to honour the memory of the late Bishop Wenceslao Padilla (Caritas Mongolia) and Bishop Michael Yeung (Caritas Hong Kong), both of whom passed away in late 2018.
The Caritas Inetrnationalis President, H. E. Antonio Cardinal Tagle, who delivered his message through a video recording, highlighted the value of collaboration. He said, “As we gather as Caritas Asia, I hope we could recover first the spirit of communion, solidarity and partnership with one another. We share common concerns, common cultures and common dreams, and that necessitates our coming together and working together. Secondly, we are also asked to work together with the wider Caritas family, the confederation”.
He also extended his hopes and prayers that the conference in Asia would serve as a good platform for preparation for the upcoming General Assembly in Rome.
Also in a video message, Michel Roy, the Secretary General of Caritas Internationalis, likewise highlighted how the theme of the conference reflected the critical global orientation of working together in a confederation, against the common temptation of working alone. In his key note message which was read by Aloysius John, Michel emphasized the need for a commitment of fraternal cooperation as one Caritas family at all levels.
The first day of the conference focused on the deliberations and discussions on the various agenda points, including Caritas Asia’s report of the 2018 Operational Plan and planning for 2019, financial matters in Caritas Asia, and issues related to CA structural fees and CI statutory fees. This was followed by presentations from MOs in Asia.
Dr. Kim Mak, Higher Institute President of St. Francis University of Caritas Hongkong, made a short presentation about the university and invited the MOs to consider sending students to the university.
Fr. Remegiusz Kalski of Caritas Kyrgyzstan and Mr. Devendran Selarajoo Thevar of CHARIS Singapore, also made a short presentation regarding their respective organizations, which are now accepted as associate members of Caritas Internationalis, following the approval of their application for full membership by the CI Representative Council in November 2018. They will become full members upon confirmation at the General Assembly.
On the second day of the Regional Conference, Fr. Sanny Sanedrin, secretary of the CI Legal Affairs Commission, served as moderator for the statutory matters and the elections of the new Caritas Asia President, Regional Commission Members, and Caritas Asia representatives to the Representative Council of CI.
Dr. Benedict Alo D’Rozario was elected as the new Regional President of Caritas Asia. Dr Rozario was the former ED of Caritas Bangladesh, and currently serves as the Asian representative to the CI Finance Advisory Committee and Review Committee, and chair of the IDCS Committee - where he sits as chair.
The new Regional Commission Members were also voted in. They are Caritas Mongolia (Central Asia), Caritas Korea (East Asia), Caritas Nepal (South Asia), and Caritas Philippines (Southeast Asia). The mandate of Caritas Asia’s new leadership will start after the General Assembly.
Caritas Korea and Caritas Philippines will join Dr Rozario as representatives of the Asia region to the CI Representative Council. This Council will be constituted at the General Assembly.