The Jesuit Conference of Asia Pacific is one of six Jesuit Conferences that coordinate and facilitate the mission of the Jesuits around the world. Covering Jesuit life and service in Australia, Cambodia, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Laos, Macau, Malaysia, Myanmar, New Zealand, Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, Timor Leste and Vietnam, the Jesuit Conference serves to bring an international perspective to and on local initiatives.
The Superior General of the Society of Jesus appoints a president to oversee the work of each Jesuit Conference. The President works in union with an Assembly of Major Superiors comprising the major superiors of the provinces and regions within the Jesuit Conference.
The cooperation fostered by the Jesuit 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. In our Jesuit Conference is 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 Catholic Christian, the area is a fast-growing part of the Society of Jesus, along with other parts of Asia and Africa. The approximately 1,600 Jesuits in the Jesuit Conference of Asia Pacific account for about 10 percent of the total number of Jesuits in the world.
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 then Fr General Pedro Arrupe. The BAA connected Jesuits across the region for mutual solidarity and corporate international initiatives, and facilitated appropriate engagement in regional needs. During the 1970s and early 1980s, it 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 Jesuit 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.
Fr Mark Raper has been President of the Jesuit Conference of Asia Pacific since March 2008. As president, he works with an assembly of major superiors to coordinate and facilitate the mission of the Society of Jesus in Australia, Cambodia, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Laos, Macau, Malaysia, Myanmar, New Zealand, Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, Timor-Leste and Vietnam.
Prior to becoming president, Fr Raper served as Provincial of the Jesuits in Australia from 2002 to 2008. He was President of Catholic Religious Australia from 2005 to 2007.
During a sabbatical year in 2001, Fr Raper held a visiting chair at the Center for the Study of International Migration in the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University in Washington, DC, USA, and subsequently worked in Battambang, Cambodia for several months.
Fr Raper spent 20 years in the service of refugees, first as the Regional Director of Jesuit Refugee Service for Asia Pacific beginning in 1982 and he set up a base for JRS in Bangkok, Thailand where he stayed from 1985 to the end of 1989 and then as the International Director of Jesuit Refugee Service, based in Rome, Italy from 1990 to 2000.
In 2001 he was named a Member in the General Division of the Order of Australia in recognition of his services to refugees. In 2004, he received the Australian Council for International Development (ACFID) 2004 Human Rights Award, in recognition of his 30 years of commitment to the advancement of human rights.
The Superior General of the Society of Jesus appoints a president to oversee the work of each Jesuit Conference. Assisting the President is a team of dedicated staff as well as coordinators who have responsibilities for apostolic sectors across the Jesuit Conference while continuing to work in their ministries in their province or region.
Fr Eric Velandria SJSocius and Treasurer
Fr Norris Seenivasan SJ
Fr Pedro Walpole SJCoordinator, Reconciliation with Creation
Fr Benny Juliawan SJSecretary for Social Ministries and Coordinator for Migration
Fr Johnny Go SJSecretary for Education
Head, Communication and Development
comms [at] sjapc [dot] net