More about the Conference
The Jesuit Conference of Asia Pacific is one of six Conferences that coordinate and facilitate the mission of the Jesuits around the world. Covering Jesuit life and service in China, Korea, Japan, Vietnam, Cambodia, Timor Leste, Laos, Thailand, Myanmar, Malaysia, Singapore, Philippines, Indonesia, Australia and New Zealand, and the countries of the Pacific notably Micronesia, the Jesuit Conference of Asia Pacific serves to help bring an international perspective to and on local initiatives.
Formerly known as the Jesuit Conference of East Asia and Oceania, it was renamed the Jesuit Conference of Asia Pacific in March 2010 to help build a greater sense of identity as one body and facilitate greater cooperation and support among its members.
The cooperation fostered by the Conference is an “undeniable necessity’ for the Society to realise its apostolic mission in an area with at least one third of the world’s population and a large proportion of its indigenous peoples. Christianity is a tiny minority in Asia Pacific which is home to several major religions and to ancient, deep spiritual and cultural traditions - the most populous Islamic nation, Indonesia; four of the five countries that adhere to Theravada Buddhism, Laos, Cambodia, Myanmar and Thailand; and all the countries of Confucian culture.
Although only the Philippines and Timor Leste are predominantly Christian, the area is a fast-growing part of the Society, along with other parts of Asia and Africa. The Jesuits in Asia Pacific receive between 70 and 100 new entrants each year.
The Jesuit Conference of Asia Pacific began as the Bureau of Asian Affairs (BAA) in 1967 after the 31st Jesuit General Congregation, which promoted international cooperation under the leadership of the then Fr General Pedro Arrupe. The BAA connected Jesuits across the region for mutual solidarity and corporate international initiatives, and helped to facilitate appropriate engagement in regional needs. During the 1970s and early 1980s, the BAA had a number of full time coordinators for apostolic fields such as the social ministries, education, social communications and pastoral activities.
Since then, the vision and scope of the Conference have been widened to include a greater role in Society governance and leadership in facing new ‘frontiers’. Today about a dozen coordinators remain in their own ministry bases in various countries, while carrying additional international responsibilities as secretaries for their apostolic sectors.
The Conference is also responsible for East Asian Pastoral Institute for the renewal of Church pastoral workers and the Arrupe International Residence for the formation of Jesuits.
The Society’s Superior General appoints a president to oversee the work of each Jesuit Conference. The President and the dozen Jesuit provincials in the Conference meet regularly for working sessions. The office and president are in Manila and there are currently approximately 1,800 Jesuits in this Conference.