1 Volume 32 No. 2 | Winter 2022 Society Matters He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to release the oppressed. (Luke 4:18) A NEWSLETTER OF THE DIVINE WORD MISSIONARIES INC - AUSTRALIA PROVINCE Volume 32 No. 2 | Winter 2022 Society Matters
Volume 32 No. 2 | Winter 2022 2 Society Matters Message from the Provincial Superior Dear Friends, Welcome to the Winter Edition of Society Matters. As the world continues to learn how to live side by side with COVID-19 and its far-reaching effects, a great deal of adaptability and flexibility is needed in so many areas of our life, work and ministry. It’s been a joy to slowly start spending time with people again in our parishes and various ministries. The COVID experience showed us new ways to be missionary, to reach out via online channels and to continuing caring for people who were feeling isolated and alone. But there is no substitute for actually being with people and accompanying one another. We thank God that the pandemic is now at a stage where we can resume being together in person again, although always mindful of the vulnerable in our midst. In this edition of Society Matters you’ll see a range of stories of mission in action, including our feature story from Indonesia, where our SVD confreres are reaching out to young people, or ‘millennials’ as they are known, to help them navigate the perils of social media and the lived reality of human trafficking in that part of the world. We also look at the question of how missionaries are assigned to various places around the world. The basic principle for the Divine Word Missionaries is to send members to the places where they are needed most – even if they are not the most sought-after places to live. One of our newest missionaries, Deacon Tin Trinh SVD, who took his final vows in Melbourne in March, reflects on the process of applying for missionary assignments and how his vow of obedience gave him a sense of “freedom” in accepting his first assignment to Taiwan. I hope you enjoy this edition of Society Matters. We thank you for your generous support of the Divine Word Missionaries as our valued Partners in Mission. Yours in the Word, Fr Asaeli Rass SVD Provincial Superior Cover Story: The SVD in Indonesia are producing movies and drama to highlight the dangers of human trafficking in the region. They are working closely with millennials on this and other communications initiatives. Story: Pages 4-5.. Appeal Office: 199 Epping Road, Marsfield NSW Locked Bag 3, Epping NSW 1710 Australia Telephone: +61 2 9868 2666 Victoria: 100 Albion Road, Box Hill, Vic 3128 Tel: +61 3 9890 0065 Queensland: 96 Lilac Street Inala QLD 4077 Tel: +61 7 3372 5658 New Zealand: 41 Britannia Street, Petone, 5046 Tel: +64 4 971 7885 Published by Divine Word Missionaries Incorporated, ABN 51 885 667 646
3 Volume 32 No. 2 | Winter 2022 Society Matters Deacon Tin ready to serve where he is needed most Tin Trinh SVD, who made his final vows in March and was ordained to the Diaconate, will take up his first missionary assignment in Taiwan after being ordained to the priesthood later this year, and says he is looking forward to what God has in store for him there. Deacon Tin, who has been completing his studies and formation in Melbourne, was among the first SVD missionaries to receive his first assignment under a new method being employed by the SVD Generalate in Rome. Provincial, Fr Asaeli Rass SVD, said the new method of allocating assignments is based on the need for missionaries in each region and requires members to nominate eight provinces (two in each SVD zone, including Africa, Europe, America and Asia) where they would like to be assigned. Previously, missionaries would nominate just three places they wished to be considered for. “The change has come from the fact that the Generalate was finding it hard to fill missionary appointments in some areas,” Fr Rass said. “In particular, fewer people were applying for those places which might be seen as harder or more dangerous to work in, and yet, the need for missionaries in those places is very great indeed. “The SVD wishes to accompany people who need us, and need Christ’s mission the most, and so, this new method of requiring members to nominate places in each of the zones where the SVD is active around the world has been brought in.” Tin said that when nominating his two preferred places in the Asia region, his choices were Japan and Taiwan because of the ministries that are present in those two places. Japan would have been his top choice. He said that while he was pleased to have been assigned to one of the places he had nominated to go, he was prepared to be sent anywhere the Generalate assigned him to. “I was scared of being sent somewhere else that I was not prepared for,” he said. “However, after I submitted my application, I felt so ‘free’. “I mean, suddenly I felt peaceful in my heart, and I felt that I had already prepared for a province I had never heard of before. “So, I would have still felt happy if the SVD gave me a call saying that ‘we need you to go to this or that place based on the missionary need’. “I would have accepted it happily. “In fact, Japan was the place I really wished to go – I love Japan. But I was still over the moon when I heard Fr Rass tell me Taiwan.” Tin said that having just taken his final vows, he had taken time to reflect on them all, including the vow of obedience. “The vow of obedience is very important in religious life, not only for newly professed missionaries but for everyone living this way of life,” he said. “For me, obedience does not mean ‘YES’ all the time. It is very hard for a missionary who is at the age of 45 to learn a completely new language! However, I think we need to listen and say ‘YES’ to the Holy Spirit as well as dialogue with the Superior. “I know obedience is so much more complicated in reality than in theory. However, as a young missionary with lots of energy, I would say YES to anywhere I am assigned. I try to remind myself to think about and to put the heart of the Congregation first, not me.”
Volume 32 No. 2 | Winter 2022 4 Society Matters Making movies with millennials to help tackle scourge of people trafficking The Divine Word Missionaries in Indonesia are reaching out to young people in the millennial age group with a range of podcasts, talk radio shows, social media initiatives, moviemaking and drama programs to highlight social issues of importance in the area, including people trafficking. Centred in Ende on the island of Flores in Indonesia, the objective of the overall project is to accompany people, especially young people, through movies and workshops, to overcome the human trafficking issue and help them in using communication and digital technology responsibly. “COVID 19 has strongly affected our lifestyle, including the way of our interacting and communicating,” says Fr Wadu Yohan SVD. “What’s going on today is also definitely impacting our way of working in the Social and Communication Commission of the SVD in Ende. We must adapt and take this change as an opportunity to develop a communication model that is responsive to the time, quick and based on context.” To meet this challenge, the SVD Social and Communication Commission has, since June 2020, begun a range of new initiatives to support the development of digital communication. They include: • Building a news-room studio which is used to make a talk show, podcast, and music to be disseminated on social media; • Upgrading the supporting facilities required for production of digital product, such as good internet and suitable equipment; • Collaborating with millennial groups to quickly find out and understand the current developments in digital and communication technology which are popular in that age group. Some things already achieved with this new equipment and knowledge include: • A daily devotional posted on social media, created in collaboration with the seminarians of St Paul Seminary, Ledalaro; • Podcast content and talk shows on various topics, with the millennials as hosts and speakers invited to take part from across all ages and professions; • A morning religious motivation program, in collaboration with the local radio station, RRI Ende, broadcast every morning with a target audience of millennials. Fr Yohan says the SVD Social and Communication Commission has also produced two movies to mark World Human Rights Day in 2021 and 2022.
5 Volume 32 No. 2 | Winter 2022 Society Matters The first, entitled Ria Rago was written by P. Simon Buis SVD in 1925. It tells the story of a female character who struggled against the discrimination of the time where men often treated women unfairly. Ria fights against her treatment, but tragically is killed. “We produced this movie because we wanted to appreciate the work of P. Simon Buis SVD, who is considered as the pioneer of cinematography in the East Indonesia region, especially East Nusa Tenggara” Fr Yohan says. “By re-filming this movie, the millennial generation in Ende may get to know the work and traces of SVD missionaries in Ende at the time and appreciate that SVDs were pioneers in cinematography. “The message of the movie is still relevant for today’s society because discrimination still quite often occurs against women, children and other groups who are considered weak.” The second movie centres on the issue of people trafficking among the millennials in the local area. “Men, women and children are being used for profit in Ende, Flores,” Fr Yohan says. “Based on data, the millennials who are trapped in this issue are classified as either victims or perpetrators. There are various reasons why the millennials become traffickers or are trapped as victims. “Perpetrators, often from broken homes, are seeking to escape being trapped in poverty. The same issues can lead people to become victims of people trafficking as they desperately look for a better life.” The movie will be launched either at the end of this year or early next year. The SVD is also working with young people to produce theatre productions and workshops to highlight the dangers of people trafficking for young people. In a recent workshop, Fr Charles Beraf, SVD, a sociologist, gave input to the youth about human trafficking issues and how to overcome them. Another project being undertaken by the SVD Social and Communication Commission is the hosting of workshops involving social media activists, millennials and the general public. Fr Yohan says the aim of the workshops is to tackle the irresponsible use of social media. “There is a lot of news spreading on social media that contains hoaxes, hate speech, provocation, violence and terror,” he says. “And the millennials and those active on social media have not received any assistance on how to use the media and technology responsibly. “Our aim is to show them how digital and communications technology can be used for important things.”
Volume 32 No. 2 | Winter 2022 6 Society Matters Language the key to unlocking culture for new missionary It’s a long way from Mexico to Switzerland – especially when you go via Australia – but Simon Dominguez Prospero is settling into his first missionary assignment in the SVD European Central Province by working hard to speak the language and get to know the people and their culture. Simon, aged 37, was born and raised in Veracruz State in Mexico and was the eighth of nine children in his family. He joined the Divine Word Missionaries in 2003 and began his religious formation in Guadalajara Jalisco, Mexico, completing three years of Philosophy studies, followed by his Novitiate from 2008 to 2010 and two years of Theology. After that, he moved to the United States and studied English at Divine Word College in Iowa. “My life took a different turn when I was approved to go to the Australia Province in 2013 for the Overseas Training Program (OTP),” he said. “I did my OTP from 2013 to 2015 and then decided to continue my theological formation in Australia. I was accepted to study at Yarra Theological Union in Melbourne, and completed my formal qualifications in 2018.” Simon took his final vows in Melbourne in March 2019 and was ordained to the Diaconate the following day. Later that year, in November, he was ordained to the priesthood and was assigned to the European Central Province and specifically to the Steinhausen community in Switzerland, arriving in September 2020. “Two weeks later, I started German language studies,” he said. “It’s an important prerequisite for ministry in this part of Europe. “For a whole year, from October 2020 to October 2021, I was busy with an intensive German course. “I’ve also been busy doing pastoral experience in the parish of St Matthias in Steinhausen, which finished at the end of April. “I am now embarking on an advanced level German course and will hopefully obtain the German Language Proficiency Certificate in order to start work in the parish.” Simon said an interesting feature of the St Matthias parish is that it is an ecumenical parish, with the Reformed Church and the Catholic Church working together. “My work there was focused on liturgy, attending parish meetings and visiting the school for religion class,” he said. “On of the challenges for me was to learn the language, because I believe that by learning the language, I will begin to understand the culture of the people and communicate more freely with them. “At the moment, even with my beginner German, I have been able to communicate with the people around me, in the SVD community where I live, in the parish, and in community groups. “I have felt welcomed, accompanied and supported.” Simon said that in addition to his experience in the parish, he has also been helping English-speaking communities, particularly the Filipino community and sometimes the Hispanic community.
7 Volume 32 No. 2 | Winter 2022 Society Matters “My future ministry plan is to be able to work with migrants and refugees and although at this stage I have not been in contact with any of them, I hope that in the future this will change,” he said. “For me, the most important thing in ministry is to be in contact with the people, listening to them, learning from them and accompanying them. “In these past few months, in which I was doing my experience in the parish, my confidence has grown, because the people I have met have received me and welcomed me so well.” Simon said his Overseas Training Program and experience of theological studies in Australia made him grow as a person and opened his mind to new possibilities. “Working in different pastoral ministries in Australia and living with many people from different cultures, traditions and religious denominations has reaffirmed my vocation as a Divine Word Missionary,” he said. “Today, I can say that my experiences of formation and study in Australia have helped me to live my missionary life in Switzerland in an optimistic and holistic way.” Snapshot of the SVD Europe Central Province The Europe Central Province includes Austria, Switzerland, France and Croatia. Official languages: Austria – German, Croatia – Croat, Switzerland – German, French, Italian and Romansh, France – French. Societal Setting: The situations of the countries are quite different due to the various historical developments. A political tendency observed in all four countries is that in recent years the number of political parties has increased, formed by those who try to defend their own identity, mostly at the expense of what appears to be foreign. Behind this trend there are the uncertainties caused by financial crises, refugee flows and international terrorism standing at the doorstep. Ecclesial Setting: The number of vocations is generally decreasing or rather modest in all four countries. France is characterised by a strong separation between Church and state, although in urban areas, the Church is experiencing an upswing, mainly through immigration. The Catholic Church in Germany is currently engaged in its ‘Synodal Way’ process of theological discussion and reflection. The shortage of priests in Switzerland has led to many structural changes and accompanying pastoral problems. In Austria there are still partially favourable conditions for the Church in the rural areas. While in Croatia, the Church still plays an important role in the lives of many people. Pastoral priorities: The Europe Central Province was officially established on May 1, 2016. It has taken over the priorities of the former province of Switzerland (Primary and New Evangelisation) and of the province of Austria (Primary and New Evangelisation – Migration – Family and Youth).These priorities are focused on pastoral work in various parishes, especially in extremely multicultural and multi-religious environments.
Volume 32 No. 2 | Winter 2022 8 Society Matters Former Provincial becomes Australia’s first SVD bishop Australia has gained its first Divine Word Missionary bishop with the episcopal ordination of Bishop Tim Norton SVD as Auxiliary Bishop of Brisbane. Bishop Tim was ordained at St Stephen’s Cathedral on February 22 by Archbishop Mark Coleridge, who said the appointment of an SVD bishop was in some ways unexpected, but timely, because the Church needed to be more missionary. “Tim will be different, and that is good; it’s one of the reasons he’s been chosen,” he said. Archbishop Coleridge said there was “a time not long ago when we thought of missionary bishops as those who went off to mission countries – people like Archbishop Doug Young of Mt Hagen in Papua New Guinea who joins us here today”. “Like Tim, Doug is a Divine Word Missionary, and it makes sense therefore that he go to the highlands of PNG and serve as a bishop there. But Brisbane is a long way from Mt Hagen; and it seems less obvious that a Divine Word Missionary should be appointed here,” he said. “But the fact is that the distinction between missionary and non-missionary countries has lapsed. Every country and every place is now mission territory, a frontier land, Brisbane as much as Mt Hagen. “There are differences of course, but every bishop is now a missionary bishop; and Tim, I hope will remind us of this both in the Archdiocese and beyond.” The Episcopal Ordination Mass had all the trademarks of a SVD gathering, with a large contingent of confreres making the trip to Brisbane for the occasion. The liturgy was also marked by the SVD multicultural charism, with Pacific Islander parishioners from St Maximilian Kolbe Parish in Marsden processing the Gospels in with song and dance and later, during Holy Communion, a hymn sung by the Vietnamese Catholic Choir from Inala. There was also a welcome to country by a local Murri man, followed by a smoking ceremony as the clergy processed into the cathedral. After lying prostrate before the altar as the litany of saints was sung over him, the new bishop was ordained by Archbishop Coleridge with the laying on of hands and the prayer of ordination. Co-ordaining bishops were Auxiliary Bishop of Brisbane Ken Howell and Bishop Doug Young SVD. Archbishop Coleridge then presented Bishop Tim with the Book of Gospels and the symbols of the episcopal ministry – the ring, the mitre, and the crozier or shepherd’s staff. Bishop Tim thanked all those who had worked behind the scenes to make the liturgy run so smoothly, as well as those present, singing, reading and taking part in the liturgy. “While this episcopal ordination is an important event in the life of the Church in the Archdiocese of Brisbane, it’s even more a celebration of the activities of the Church in the world,” he said. “Vatican II, ad gentes, told us that the Church is missionary by its very nature and, citing an SVD colleague of mine, Divine Word Missionary Stephen Bevans, it’s not so much that the Church has a mission, but that the mission has a Church. And one of the many expressions of the Church in the world is through liturgy. “So, we are gathered together today as Church to express not just a faith in this mission of God but a commitment to it, calling on the Holy Spirit to assist us. And mission has context. From the people sleeping rough each night around the precinct of this cathedral, to people with addictions, to rights for women, minorities, indigenous people, for those who are sick, the issues of farmers in Australia and India and Botswana, to the tensions in Syria, Ethiopia and Ukraine – the tensions and terror. “Our gathering in the name of God expresses our commitment to the mission of God in the world, our world, this world that we must do better to care for.” www.divineword.org.au A Newsletter of the Divine Word Missionaries Inc - Australia Province Donations to the SVD AUS Province Overseas Aid Fund can be made online at www.divineword.org.au or by mailing to DivineWord Missionary Appeal Office, Locked Bag 3, Epping NSW, 1710, Australia. +61 2 9868 9015 @svdaus Society Matters