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Asia Pacific Augistinian Conference

APAC Cross-Cultural Immersion Program 2007

A resident and her APAC guest.

APAC offered for the first time a six-day Cross Cultural Immersion Program on 11th-19th November 2007. It took place near Dumaguete City, Negros Oriental, Philippines, and the participants were fifty-six APAC religious and educators involved with social justice.

The program was prepared by the APAC Commission on Justice and Peace, and centred at the Mother Rita Homes II at Candau-ay, Dumaguete City.  Mother Rita Homes are a justice and peace project of the University of Regina Carmeli, which is conducted near Manila by the Augustinian Sisters of Our Lady of Consolation.

At present there are 153 homes built in this ongoing project. The Consolation Sisters arrange the finance for the prospective home owners in the form of thirty-year home loans, in return for which the householders pledge themselves to ongoing sustainable community development.

Two of a number of addresses during the program were given by Sr Carmeli Ma. Catan of the Augustinian Sisters of Our Lady of Consolation (APAC Justice and Peace Commission Chair) and Fr Tony Banks OSA of Australia (APAC Justice and Peace Commission Vice-Chair). Guest speakers from outside of APAC were Msgr. Gamaniel Tulabing, Fr. Nonong Pili, Dr. Belen De Jesus and Dr Catalino Rivera.

Some residents and APAC participants.

The Immersion Program strove to offer the participants four benefits: (i) an experience on how to install a responsive and relevant induction program for agents of community development; (ii) an initial opportunity to develop and write an effective community development curriculum focusing on fostering cross-cultural understanding, peace and sustainable community development; (iii) an experience in planning to install an efficient and effective implementation, supervision and evaluation system for the project and expand the prototype model for wider community replication; (iv) an exposure to a cross-cultural experience of immersion to a sustainable community development model.

Fr Banks said that this immersion experience gave participants a powerful first-hand experience of sustainable development, in which all could see the fruits of it in the sense of community that has been generated.

The participants lived for three full days with the local families, and both the APAC participants and the host couples took place in a theological reflection on what the immersion meant. The program ended with a liturgy that further demonstrated Augustine’s concept of the totus Christus (the “whole Christ”).



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