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A call to dialogue on the sustainability of life

31 July 2016

2016_07_31_N&E_Photo1An opportunity to reflect, discuss, and explore actions to respond to the sustainability of life across several ministries in the Jesuit Conference Asia Pacific (JCAP) is offered through a conference titled A Call to Dialogue on the Sustainability of Life in the ASEAN Context at the Sanata Dharma University in Yogyakarta on 8 to 10 August 2016.

This is the largest collaboration of JCAP sectors in recent years and involves nine areas in which the Jesuits in Asia Pacific work: Dialogue with Buddhism, Dialogue with Islam, Indigenous Ministry, Social Apostolate, Migration, Reconciliation with Creation, Higher Education, Basic Education, and Formation.

Fr Jojo Fung, SJ, a member of the organising team, explains that sustainability is more than environmental devastation.  “Sustainability is about literally everything.  The horrible refugee crisis in Europe shows us the extent of the challenges in front of us.”  He added that the many challenges are bitter reminders for us to be stewards of God’s creation (Genesis 2:15), to live a sustainable life for “planet earth and its ecosystem in our common home.” Pope Francis echoes that courageous challenge from the Earth Charter, “Let ours be a time remembered for the awakening of a new reverence for life, the firm resolve to achieve sustainability, the quickening of the struggle for justice and peace, and the joyful celebration of life.” (Laudato si’ 207)

Using the pastoral spiral, a framework used to animate pastoral, academic or community action, the meeting will take the participants from first hand experiences of practices that ensure sustainability of life in marginal communities to critical analysis, discernment and theological reflection to envisioning the future.

At the end of the meeting, the participants are challenged to develop a plan of doable strategies for the next five years that can be drawn from the expected conference outcomes:

  • That the concept of sustainability of life be translated into the policies and program of studies and activities of Jesuit institutions and works
  • That Jesuits, other religious and seminarians be encouraged to learn more about the mystical cosmologies of marginalised communities and that these will flow into their personal prayer and communal worship
  • That each participant experiences a conversion to a lifestyle where “less is more” (LS 222) and become less addicted to unbridled consumption and more grounded in the spirituality of sustainability in which “the Spirit of life dwells in every living creature” (LS 88) and that “the universe unfolds in God, who fills it completely” (LS 233)
  • That each participant begins to exercise an “ecological citizenship” and practice “environmental responsibility” (LS 211).

Pope Francis reminds us in Laudato si’ (211) that “little daily actions” can transform the world.  At Arrupe International Residence, residents are responding in a humble way by turning off unnecessary lights to save electricity, separating refuse, printing on both sides of a sheet of paper, making fertilizer from leaves, etc.  Scholastic Bernadus Christian Triyudo Prastowo SJ acknowledges that these are very small steps but feels that “if we can promote or encourage others to do the same, the result can be good” and this is precisely what Pope Francis said, to live “a prophetic and contemplative lifestyle” of “less is more” (LS 222).

For further information, please go to JCAP eNews.

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