In these closing days of General Congregation 35, as drafts, documents and decisions are being finalised, it is only to be expected that Fr General Nicolás might hand down an appointment which affects us closer to home.
Fr General has appointed the Australian Provincial Fr Mark Raper to succeed him as President of the Jesuit Conference of East Asia and Oceania, based in Manila. The Province offers Mark our sincere congratulations as he takes on this significant role for our region.
The timing of this announcement comes at an interesting stage as the Australian Province has begun initial proceedings in the search for the Provincial to succeed Mark later in the year. Mark will be returning to Australia at Easter, and will then be able to give a better indication of the timing for relinquishing his present position and taking up residence in Manila.
I would like to quote from Mark's notes which he passed on to the Provincial Office earlier in the week.
‘This new mission corresponds to our vision of the mission of the Australian Province. We have already made significant personnel commitments in Asia. All the provinces and regions which form part of Conference of East Asia and Oceania, especially the newly established regions, understand that they are part of a larger community. We need one another's support in order to achieve our common mission. Consequently across Asia many Jesuits now live and work beyond their national and province boundaries. The conference has many common projects which need to be consolidated for the medium and long term, such as the new programs in Burma and East Timor, and the growing activities in China and Vietnam.
‘Moreover, the Society in Asia has much to offer other parts of the world. If we work together well, quite a lot of people can be considerably helped. The openness demonstrated in our Province by Jesuit and lay members to collaboration with one another across our ministries, and increasingly across Asia and the Pacific, gives me greater confidence in undertaking this new mission.'
The Congregation is in its final days-significant direction will be given to the Society in its ministries into the future. We thank Mark Raper and Geoff King for their full contribution to proceedings in Rome and wish our Provincial well for the remainder of this momentous year for him.
By Acting Provincial Father Michael Ryan SJ