Quezon City, Philippines. “Social Friendship and Diakonia in a Fragmented World in the Light of Fratelli Tutti” was the theme of the recently concluded Religious Life Week 2024, organized by the Institute for Consecrated Life in Asia on January 19-21.
On the first day, Sr. Maria Cimperman, RSCJ, Ph.D., a participant in the Synod on Synodality in Rome, delivered a talk entitled “Responding Together to Our Wounded World: The Calls of Fratelli Tutti & Synodality to Consecrated Life Today“. During her talk, she emphasized the importance of Fratelli Tutti’s call to live as brothers and sisters in a world marked by war, political division, and inequality. According to Sr. Cimperman, synodality is one of the best practices that the Church, as a People of God who share the same Spirit through baptism, can offer the world in terms of living as brothers and sisters. She further added that synodality requires active listening, perceiving, and communication-dialogue. Sr. Cimperman believes that consecrated life can lead the way in synodality, and if consecrated individuals work together, they can become powerful instruments in transforming society. She encourages religious individuals, communities, and congregations to carry out their different ministries through mutual cooperation and co-creative partnership.
On January 20, during the event’s second day, Fr. Manuel “Manoling” Francisco, SJ, STD, a musician, theologian, and social activist, spoke about “Social Grace: Our Collective Response to Social Sin.” He reflected on how the world’s wounds and brokenness can be traced back to Adam’s fall or sin. He pointed out that humanity has been living in a world marked by ego and selfishness. However, he believes that humanity is not doomed because “where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death, grace would reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 5:20-21 NAB).
Fr. Francisco proposed that just as there are structures of sin in our society, there should also be greater structures of Grace. He shared with the assembly about his efforts to build the social structure of Grace through the foundation he established: the Tangin Yaman Foundation. This non-profit organization in the Philippines responds to the needs of the poor and marginalized sectors of society. The foundation provides relief and rehabilitation, livelihood, youth education, childcare, and environmental protection services.
On the seminar’s final day, Fr. Agustinus Supur, the director of ICLA, spoke about “Synodal Asian Consecrated Life: Pathways, Challenges, and Opportunities“. He emphasized the importance of being relational as the cornerstone and essence of synodality. Consecrated individuals can become mystics (upward), servants (downward), ascetics (inward), and prophets (outward) by following four relational pathways: 1) upward, which involves having a relationship with God, 2) downward, which involves having a relationship with nature, 3) inward, which involves having a relationship with oneself, and 4) outward, which involves having a relationship with others. Although developing mature relationships with God, nature, oneself, and others is a challenging task, it is also full of promising opportunities that allow consecrated individuals to be leaders of synodality.
Religious individuals, communities, and congregations who attended this year’s Religious Life Week have been encouraged to work together and collaborate in their different ministries. The goal is to become beacons of hope in a broken world through the structure of grace.
Source: Fr. Gilbert Queñano, CMF, ICLA- Secretary and Registrar