12th Meeting of The Scholastics and Brothers’ in Formation Circle: Oleh-oleh dari Indonesia

The 12th meeting of the JCAP Scholastics and Brothers’-in-formation Circle was held in Klaten, Indonesia from 20th December 2010 to 2nd January 2007.  55 scholastics and brothers-in-formation (45 participants and 10 steering committee) attended from provinces and regions of the Jesuit Conference of Asia Pacific, including Australia, Cambodia, East Timor, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Malaysia-Singapore, Micronesia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Thailand, and, Vietnam including two participants from Kenya representing the Jesuit Conference of Africa. (See Appendix A) Two other scholastics from Sri Lanka representing the Jesuit Conference of South Asia could not fulfill the Indonesian visa requirements in time for the meeting and as such were unable to attend the meeting.

The theme of this SBC meeting was Islam and Inter-religious Dialogue: Service of Faith, Promotion of Justice. The core-committee consisting of seven scholastics identified two-fold objectives of the meeting: (1) to encourage the deepening of friendships for collaboration and mission among Scholastics of the Assistancy and the Society at large; and (2) to help scholastics understand contemporary issues in Islam through workshops and also through a live-in exposure in a Muslim community. In order to accomplish this the program was divided into four components: experience, reflection, analysis and synthesis corresponding to the FABC’s pastoral spiral.

The meeting began with an opening address by the SBC coordinator followed by a celebration of the Eucharist by the Jesuit Provincial of Indonesia Fr R.B. Riyo Mursanto, S.J. In the first component of the meeting, participants first began by sharing and listening to the experiences of each other. They were then briefed by Fr Heru Prakosa, S.J. regarding the three-days and two-nights immersion experience which he organized at four different pesantren’s (Muslim boarding school) in Central Java. Upon returning from the immersion program, participants shared on how grateful they were for the hospitality they had received and described how they now have a positive and real appreciation of Islam.

In the second component of the meeting, participants were guided to reflect on their experiences by turning to our Jesuit sources. Fr A. Setyodarmono S.J. assisted in this process by giving a talk on the history of Jesuit involvement in inter-religious dialogue. Fr Heru Prakosa S.J. highlighted elements from General Congretation 34 and 35 on inter-religious dialogue. At the end of this component, participants were asked to design an Ignatian retreat module to sensitize people of the importance of inter-religious dialogue.

After this, participants were led into the third component of the meeting, which involved analyzing Islam within a social, economic and political context. Fr Heru Prakosa, SJ and Fr Franz Magnis-Suseno, S.J. both presented the issue of Islam and Politics within an Indonesian, regional and global perspective. Participants were then asked to analyze real cases and then to prepare a press release to address the issues. In the final component of the meeting, participants were helped to understand Islamic spirituality as the locus for personal and societal change in order to synthesize the various elements of the meeting.

Dr. Syafa’atun Almirzanaha presented a talk on the theological and mystical approach of inter-religious dialogue and personal transformation. Fr Heru Prakosa, S.J. then brought in the element of inter-religious dialogue through praxis and societal transformation through a video on the Silsilah Inter-religious Dialogue organization in the Philippines. Participants were then guided in preparing a story for children that would accentuate the value of inter-religious dialogue.

Interspersed between conference days were a number of excursions out of Klaten. First, a City Tour of Yogyakarta which included a visit to the pilgrimage site at Ganjuran, the Palace and Malioboro. Participants were then brought to visit some works of the Indonesian Jesuit Province at the Agricultural Centre at Salatiga as well as the novitiate. Participants also had the opportunity of visiting the ancient Buddhist temple of Borobodur and the Hindu temple of Prambanan as part of a Cultural Tour.

Fr Matthias Chae, S.J. gave a brief talk on the status and future needs of the Conference before offering points for a half-day recollection. At the end of the recollection, many scholastics recounted how they have been given the grace of a deepened friendship with each other as well as a broader understanding of Islam in an existential way.

On the final day of the meeting, the participants elected new officers for the SBC Core Team and discussed possible themes for the next SBC meeting in 2012 after an evaluation exercise. Almost all of the participants gave a very positive feedback of the entire program. There was however some discrepancy of expectation as some participants had expected a more academic treatment of the subject matter, while others expected more group activities with fewer academic conferences. Nevertheless, the program was designed as a halfway between these two alternatives.