Asian Theological Program
Summary Brief on the Asian Mandate
Meeting of Rectors, Deans and/or Principals of Theologates
23-25 November 2009, Loyola School of Theology
Identifying where LST is
We are situated in Southeast Asia, a region characterized by diversity in language, culture and religious tradition. Together with such diversity, Southeast Asia has also undeniable links among its different populations and with other parts of Asia, particularly East Asia and South Asia, as a result of ethnicity, commerce and history.
In recognition of this diversity as well as these links, ‘Asian’ is better applied to particular contexts rather than one Asian monolithic context. To speak of ‘Asian’ in the later sense entails a second-order construction that runs the risk of facile generalization especially if done in contrast to what is labeled ‘Western’.
Locating Jesuit Mission Today
From its very beginning, Jesuit mission has considered “the entire world” as “the object of our interest and concern.” Moreover, “as this world changes, so does the context of our mission.” (GC 35, 2, nos. 23-24) Thus Jesuit mission has always been international and global.
This means that all ministries of Jesuits, whether in their own country or elsewhere, are related to this wider reality. In our case, located as we are in the Philippines within Southeast Asia, our ministry of theological formation at LST must reflect this international and global dimension of Jesuit mission. The Jesuit Conference of Asia Pacific (JCAP) itself has articulated the desirability of having Jesuits spend part of their formation in a context other than their own.
Describing LST’s Asian Theological Program
In the light of the above, the 2004 Asian Theological Program at LST specifies its mission even further. As the report of JCAP’s Theological Cooperation Working Group (TCWG) puts it: “Founded on the recognition that theology is ‘an academic enterprise that mediates between a cultural matrix and the significance and role of religion in that context’ (Bernard Lonergan), it missions LST to provide theological education with a more deliberate international and Asian focus.”
This program consists primarily of preparing Jesuits and other students from particular Asian contexts, including the Philippines, for the core ministerial tasks
in these contexts. This requires a dynamic interaction between Catholic tradition and these contexts in the theological formation of students: in particular, enabling them to understand and communicate the Gospel within their contexts, to enrich this tradition with concerns arising from these contexts, and to reflect critically on these contexts in the light of the Gospel.
LST or any other theological center in Asia is neither a center of “pan-Asian” theology nor one knowledgeable about all Asian theologies. However, LST can and must develop greater familiarity with theologies in and from particular Asian contexts and undertake comparative analysis among these theologies. Steps to accomplish this can be undertaken through increased collaboration with other theological centers in Asia.