Asian Mission Course or IMCA 2023 was held from June 4th to July 29th in Cebu, Philippines. Fr Stephen Dsouza from Infant Jesus Delegation participated in the course. There were 17 participants from different countries namely USA, Indonesia, Vietnam, Pakistan, Philippines, India and Sri Lanka. The participants were of OFM, OFM Conventuals, OFM Capuchins and TOR. The animators of the programme were Br Dennis T Tayo OFM, Br Denniel OFM, Br Joel OFM Cap and Br Uriel OFM Conv.

Franciscans in all novelty, is a missionary Order. Hence the preparation of the missionaries has long been a priority of the Order. Twenty years ago, the OFM in Brussels, Belgium started a mission course that eventually evolved with the OFM Capuchin and Conventuals, opening its doors to this collaboration. Since year 2000, more than 300 friars have participated in this experience. In the last 10 years the three orders have dedicated themselves for working as a team by offering two courses annually. However after a series of discernment, the Brussels mission course was closed in 2021 and was brought to the different continents as a landmark evolution towards more contextualized preparations of missionaries. Hence for the first time an Inter - Obediential Mission Course in Africa was held in 2022. Now in Asia this landmark event was joined for the first time by the TOR with 17 missionaries coming from the four Orders at House of Silence, Cebu - Philippines.

The main goal of the course was to holistically equip the friars using cognitive, affective and integrative approaches toward a deepened discernment and commitment to live one’s missionary call, renewed and strengthened in Franciscan Chrism, in synodality and in collaboration within Asia and Oceania. With the theme “Sent in Asia to deepen our missions of proclaiming the Gospel in the spirit of the Franciscan Jubilee as lesser brothers in synodality” the course started on the feast of the Holy Trinity on June 4, 2023 with the mass celebrated by Br Carlos Trovarellli, OFM Conv, Minister General. In the eight week input sessions, participants were enlightened about Franciscan Mission life, General Notions of the Asian Continent, The Basics in Missiology, Mission and inculturation in Asia and Mary’s presence in Asia.

Mission and Dialogue, Synodality in mission and reconciliation, mission and Economics, Accounting and evangelical Poverty. New areopagus for mission in Asia which included challenges as globalization, migration, multiculturalism, clericalism, abuse, protection of minors and vulnerable, new communication technologies and care for creation. Finally, Integration Phase which included course Assimilation, processing, course evaluation and closing exercises.

In a nutshell, IMCA 2023 affirmed learned principles and realizations while offering opportunities to discover new ones. Apart from the inputs, exposure trips on Saturdays deepened the week’s input, as participants experienced varied realities and social action activities for the poor and other sectors, pilgrimage to churches and shrines. They also met people of other faiths by visiting the temples, mosques and shared many breath-taking nature adventures. Provided with a mission journal one was guided “to journey within one’s heart” as they progressed deeper in long eight week period.

These inward preparations and self-discovery, daily activities of attending classes, personal or communal prayers, doing simple house chores or playing together, in simple exchanges of life’s stories were all meant to holistically equip and build collaboration and by becoming a better version of oneself as a man of mission. The batch name was chosen as ‘Mirror of Grace’, which emphasized on having received the great mission experience from one another through sharing; now they are ready to go forward to share the experience to all. On July 28, 2023 a closing mass was celebrated by Br Lino Gregorio Redoblado OFM who asked the participants to move forward to spread the gospel with the rich experience of the course.

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