A short visit to Custody of St. Anthony of Malaysia-Singapore-Brunei, from 22-25 October 2023, was done by Br. Taucen, OFM on behalf of JPIC OFM in Rome. The aims were to share with the friars regarding JPIC’s activities and matters, to listen to their experiences due to the JPIC animation plan, and to look forward on ongoing formation program for JPIC animators.
As shared by Br. Derricks, OFM, the first Custos of the entity after becoming an autonomous Custody from Australia, the main ministry for the majority of the friars in this entity is to serve people in Parishes both in Singapore and in Malaysia. However, helping migrants and refugees, accompanying the homeless and the victims of human trafficking, caring for mother earth, are the special pastoral subjects for some friars. And now, the entity is preparing one young friar, Br. Malvin, OFM, who has visited Indonesia for several months to study JPIC eco-pastoral, and he continues to learn about JPIC in the Philippines.
This Custody has one JPIC animator, namely: Br. Cosmas Francis, OFM. But the main animator is Br. Derricks himself as Custos. He is involved in running pastoral help for migrants in Kuala Lumpur-Malaysia, in where we can find huge numbers of migrants coming from different countries around Asia, specifically from Myanmar caused by the recent internal conflict in that country. As it is well-known, war and conflict force people to migrate. It can be seen what happened in the Middle East, Latin America, and African countries.
The entity has another friar, Br. Claurence, OFM, who takes responsibility as the main coordinator for pastoral migrants at Diocese of Johor Bahru-Malaysia. In the past 6 year, he already accepted this service. As he shared, the reality of ministering to migrants is relatively regarding how to defend migrants’ rights as legal workers with documents or illegal workers without documents. Fortunately, he gains a lot of supports and helps to do advocacy from the bishop, religious leaders, the collegial priests, and lay people.
A different story comes from Br. Cosmas, who works and lives in Penang, Malaysia. He is the new JPIC animator for the entity. He just started his role this year. According to him, there is a need for the friars to have JPIC formation and information. To help him, during an online meeting, Br. Taucen shared about the International JPIC Course, the hope of building a network for dialogue and peace in Asia, JPIC works at the General Office in Rome, some documents of JPIC OFM on websites, etc.
From the meeting with the friars in this entity, it can be said that Franciscans tirelessly bear witnesses to serve those who are suffering and marginalized. And there are still many possibilities to improve JPIC as our DNA and spirituality for the future. For this reason, ongoing formation and collaboration are needed.