On 18-20 August Deborah Kent, Head of Jesuit College of Spirituality, and Fr Gerry Healy SJ attended the annual Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities — Asia Pacific (AJCU-AP) meeting in Chiang Rai, Thailand.
This group consists of the presidents of the Jesuit universities in the East Asian Conference, together with representatives of the tertiary activities in provinces that do not have a university. The meeting was attended by approximately 30 delegates, representing about 15 institutions and ministries.
Fr Ben Nebres SJ outlined what the 36th General Congregation meant to him and the implications for the tertiary ministries and intellectual apostolate. Fr Ben Juliawan SJ gave an excellent address on sustainability and the importance of balance, and the planning for a Sustainability of Life Project for the JCAP.
Each CEO gave a brief report on activities in their apostolate and the common works and plans for common activities in 2017-18, including the Service Learning Program shared by several universities — participation in which is difficult for southern hemisphere institutions.
One of the aims of holding the meeting in Chiang Rai was to attend the blessing and opening of Xavier Learning Community by the Bishop of Chiang Mai. This is an initiative of the Thailand Jesuits to provide tertiary education in the very poor area of Northern Thailand, including refugee camps on the Myanmar border.
The Centre is awaiting imminent registration to offer diploma courses. Three students from Australia (two from Xavier, one from Riverview) are spending a gap year working there under the auspices of Cardoner. There were many young Thai priests and religious present at the ceremony.
For a brief (about one hour!) rest and relaxation activity, delegates visited the Golden Triangle — the point where three countries meet: Thailand, Myanmar and Laos.