What the Spirit says to the Churches" (Rev. 2,7)
The 2nd General Assembly and Workshop Encounter (Congress) of IACM took place at the beautiful compound of the Salesian Retreat Center “Fatima”, Colcapirhua Cochabamba, Bolivia from September 29 to October 3, 2004.
The first three days of the meeting was dedicated to the scientific (theological) workshop Encounter (September 30 – October 1, 2004).
The statutory session, IACM business and elections took place on October 2, 2004.
On October 3, after the solemn closing ceremony with the Eucharistic celebration at the Coliseo Santa Maria in the city of Cochabamba, participants visited, as a group, some historic and tourist sights within and around the city.
About 73 members from all continents were present both for the workshop Encounter and the IACM statutory plenary session: Africa = 4; Asia – Oceania = 7; Europe = 11; North America = 3; Latin America = 48.
THE AIM AND THEME OF THE WORKSHOP ENCOUNTER
Fr. John Gorski, the President of IACM (2000-2004), explained the aim and theme of the Workshop Encounter. The objective is not to arrive at theological conclusions or to take stands on issues regarding the ample theme of diversity of theological language in missiology. It is rather to listen to how missiologists in different parts of the world presently experience the problematic of this diversity in their local ecclesial contexts and how this affects their research and teaching of missiology. The discussions in plenary sessions and smaller groups would help to identify those particular points that call for further investigation and clarification.
It is expected that this follow-up study of the implications and consequences of theological diversity in missiological research and activity would take place in the coming years. It would be realized by designated ongoing research groups that eventually will share their efforts in future Encounters in other continental areas. Right now, important missiological study is too localized, and not adequately shared on a worldwide level, and we want to remedy this.As Catholic missiologists, we recognize above all the need to be faithful to the witness to divine revelation as transmitted in the doctrinal tradition of the Catholic Church. We realize that inculturated expressions of the faith in diverse cultural languages must not only be meaningful to particular human groups but also doctrinally and pastorally valid.
THEMATIC STUDY GROUPS
The Workshop Encounter concluded with formation of four stable thematic study groups. Participants freely chose which group each would like to join for further research and study on the delineated theme. The thematic groups and their coordinators are as follows:
I. Globalization: (Coordinator: Fr. Lazar Thanuzraj, SVD.)
II. Contextual Theology and Praxis: (Coordinator: Fr. Eleazar Lopez)
III. Church and Dialogue: (Coordinator: Fr. Juan Gonzalez)
IV. Theological Foundation and Methodology: (Coordinator: Fr. John Gorski, MM.)
OTHER MATTERS AND CLOSING CEREMONIES
Through out the four full days of the Workshop Encounter and the General Assembly, all participants joined as a family in the morning Eucharistic celebration in the imposing chapel of the Salesian “Fatima” Retreat Center. The local community animated each day’s Eucharistic celebration with enchanting liturgical songs and music typical of the dynamism of the Bolivian local Church. The three bishops (His Excellencies, Bishops Samuel Ruiz Garcia, Roger Aubry, and Jesus Augustin Lopez de Lama) who took part in the Workshop and Assembly, had their turn in presiding at the Eucharistic celebrations and each gave very enriching homily in the spirit of the congress. And His Excellency, Archbishop Ivo Scapolo, the Apostolic Nuncio to the Republic of Bolivia (who also participated at the congress), was the presiding prelate and homilist at the closing Mass which was celebrated at the Coliseo Santa Maria in the city of Cochabamba on October 3, 2004. A message of greetings from the Holy Father, Pope John Paul II, which was signed by Cardinal Angelo Sodano, the Secretary of State, was read to the Assembly. Cardinal Julio Terrazas, the Archbishop of Santa Cruz and President of Bolivian Bishops’ Conference also sent a message to the Assembly. Representatives of both the civil authorities and local Church of Bolivia as well as the Rector Magnifico of the Bolivian Catholic University (UCB), among others, graced the closing ceremonies.
At the end of the closing ceremonies at the Coliseo Santa Maria, participants were taken around in buses and visited some tourist sights and centers in and around the city of Cochabamba. On October 4, 2004, as participants from other parts of the globe were returning home, those from Latin America stayed behind to hold the first general meeting of missiologists from that continent.
In all, the participants at the four-day event left Cochabamba, filled with satisfaction and joy as they look to the future of the IACM with a realistic hope. In particular, it is believed that the Cochabamba meeting has clearly demonstrated the vitality and productiveness of the IACM and thus will stimulate interest and evoke a more active participation on the part of many members. It is also hoped that the new Executive Board would wish to decide on concrete means to promote professional and academic interaction among missiologists, particularly by consolidating the ongoing study groups and formation of national or regional Catholic missiological societies aggregated to the IACM that will assume in effective communion a decentralized responsibility for contributing to the realization of the Association’s objectives.
Francis A. OborjiIACM Executive Secretary (2000-2004)