First live Asia Pacific Conference since 2019 – A roaring success
After three years of Covid restrictions, Order of Malta entities in Asia Pacific were able to hold a live conference, the eleventh Asia Pacific Conference, in Bangkok from 12th to 16th October 2022. Members in Thailand ably and generously hosted what is called a “roaring success” by several participants.
The theme – Together and Closer – was certainly made concrete by the many relationships either begun or tightened. 70 participants came from the Grand Magistry, Philippines, Australia, Singapore, Hong Kong, Thailand, Korea, Japan, China, Germany, France and USA. The Grand Magistry’s contingent includes the Grand Chancellor H.E. Riccardo Paternò di Montecupo and the Grand Hospitaller H.E. Fra’ Alessandro de Franciscis, and the Prelate H.E. Reverend Monsignor Jean Laffitte. Our Ambassadors to Thailand, Cambodia, Timor-Leste and Nauru and their respective Counsellors were prominently present.
On the eve of the conference, our Grand Chancellor Grand Hospitaller, and Ambassador Michael Man were received by Don Pramudwinai, Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Thailand.
Unity, “rolling up your sleeves”, and the essential and foundational spirituality of the Order were front and centre through the conference. Every entity presented evidence of how it has been expressing the charism of the Order – Tuitio Fidei et Obsequium Pauperum.
On 14 October, in the Assumption Cathedral in Bangkok, four new dames and a knight from the Thai delegation were invested in the Australian Association. Cardinal Francis Xavier Kriengsak Kovithavanij, Archbishop of Bangkok, celebrated Mass with the Prelate of the Order Msgr. Jean Laffitte, attended by participants in the Asia Pacific conference.
A full package of the proceedings, videos and photos of the conference is being prepared for distribution to members. In the meantime, we have the benefit of a summary from the National Hospitaller of Australian Association, Confrère John Murphy:
“Conference is a genuine sense of fraternity has been evident during the last several days. We are all so different as entities and cultures, yet we are the same working for a common cause under the eight-pointed cross.
The hospitality and organisation by the Thailand association has promoted a warm and welcoming environment to help us all build better relationships. Thank you, Madam President- Maria Therese, Emma, Patima, and Ken for your wonderful work.
A big thank you to Daniela and Eugenio from the Grand Magistry, they have come a long way and have graciously given of their time to support us in this region.
We were very lucky and honoured to have the new Grand Chancellor and Grand Hospitaller present. We appreciate their frankness and willingness to listen and learn and understand the uniqueness and value of the works of the Order in the Asia Pacific region.
The main messages from the Grand Chancellor and Grand Hospitaller were:
- The time has come to be united
- The focus now on vocations for 1st and 2nd class
- The necessity to tailor works for each region – with one entity
- An understanding that sovereignty is affirmed
- Confirmed and affirmed the value of maturation of the region
- Must encourage members to roll up their sleeves. We are not a fundraiser
- Bring back the Order to at work of Blessed Gerard. We must bring a soul to our works
Global Director of Communications Eugenio Ajroldi, spoke about the upcoming launch of the Order’s intranet. It will provide access to our archives of information organised into several sections. Phase One access will be given to 500 in the leadership nucleus of the Order. He also encouraged AP entities to celebrate the Order’s National Day occurring each year the weekend closest to the feast of Blessed Gerard.
Throughout the last three days there has been a renewed focus on our spirituality. Our Prelate Monsignor Jean Laffitte talked about a collective charism.
“If we give all but without love, we have nothing” – inspired by the words of St Paul. Our charism is a gift from God. Sacraments plus our charism guarantee the promise of Christ and Service is continually nourished by the fruits of God.
The takeaway: We are doing the Lord’s work – we need to keep Christ the centre of all our works of mercy.
Edmund Adamus, Head of Formation Centre, shared with us the exciting roadmaps we have for our global Formation Centre to give us the practical tools to nurture, nourish and develop our unique spirituality. There were some ambitious plans and deadlines outlined and we look forward to watching this important work develop.
Regent for the Sub Priory of the Immaculate Conception in the Asia Pacific region Professor David Kissane explained the spirituality and commitment necessary to make the promise of obedience and enter the Second Class. As mentioned by the High Charges earlier, this will be a real focus now to deepen the spirituality of the Order and encourage more vocations to the First Class.
Hospitaller works – what a diverse range of programs were shared by all the Presidents and National Hospitallers of each country. It highlights how important these yearly gatherings are to help inspire us and also help us to create new works of our own. As many have pointed out, we have all made great progress in the last three years in spite of the disruptions caused by the pandemic.
Justin Simpson from The Global Fund for the Forgotten gave a wonderful presentation on the work the fund has contributed to in the region which we had already seen during the Hospitaller works presentations as each region has case studies detailing their involvement. There were numerous examples of the funds assistance in launching new programs. We are very grateful for the funds support and pray that this will continue into the future.
The Ambassador H.E. Terry Tobin and Counsellor Alastair Furnival for Timor-Leste highlighted the wonderful work that has occurred in the region. There was some sobering but also encouraging information shared in relation to infant mortality and stunting. We hope that more entities in Asia Pacific have now been inspired to become involved and join and contribute to the growth of this initiative with the opportunity to join the leadership team.
Malteser International Secretary General, Clemens Graf von Mirbach-Harff. Clemens made a presentation that just like the Global Fund was quietly involved in many Asia Pacific regional projects. We sincerely appreciate their efforts; we know it has been a tough six months for MI and just want to publicly thank and acknowledge the work Clemens and the team have also done in the Ukraine.”
The 12th Asia Pacific Conference will be held in Seoul. No doubt, the entities in this region will be able to present its continuous growth in the spirituality and works of the Order serving their Lords, the sick and the poor.