WASHINGTON—(June 14, 2006)"Harmony in Faith" is the theme for the first-ever National Asian and Pacific Catholic Convocation, which will be held at the Hyatt Regency, Crystal City, Alexandria, Virginia, June 30-July 3.
Pastors, religious and lay leaders, social workers, diocesan directors, and educators from the United States with Asian and Pacific heritage are expected to participate in the multi-cultural and multi-ethnic gathering. The program will include diverse and colorful liturgical celebrations and intense discussion of such hot button issues as immigration reform and human trafficking.
The convocation is being organized by the National Asian and Pacific Catholic Organization (NAPCO) in cooperation with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) through the Migration and Refugee Services (MRS) Office for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Refugees (PCMR).
In a joint statement, Most Reverend Dominic M. Luong, Auxiliary Bishop of Orange, and Rev. Arturo Monzon-Balagat, President of Napco, said: "This historic gathering offers opportunities to be enriched as Catholics, to affirm, strengthen and celebrate the gifts Asian and Pacific communities bring, and to commit to build future directions for ministry with Asian and Pacific Catholics. The theme, Harmony in Faith, beckons all of us to journey together and open new paths to ministry in the coming years."
Delegates to the convocation will attend plenary sessions and workshops. The program will also feature a spiritual pilgrimage to the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington and a Eucharistic liturgy presided over by Bishop Luong, the first Vietnamese-American bishop appointed by the Holy See.
There will be ethnic workshops in Indonesian, Japanese, Tongan, Korean, Filipino, Chinese, Pakistani, South Asia, (India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh), Vietnamese and Cambodian.
In many ways the convocation is an outgrowth of the statement by the U.S bishops Asian and Pacific Presence, Harmony in Faith issued in 2001. "As bishops of the Church, we acknowledge the contributions of all Asian and Pacific persons, especially their many creative initiatives that assist our ministries in our dioceses and parishes," the bishops said. "We hope in this third millennium—with the yearning of the universal Church and the foresight of the Holy Father—to concretely strengthen our ties with our Asian and Pacific communities here in the United States and in their homelands."
There are 12.8 million Asian and Pacific peoples in the United States (based on the 2000 Census), with 11.9 million Asians alone, most of them Chinese, Filipino, Asian Indian, Korean, Vietnamese and Japanese. Asian and Pacific Catholic constitute four percent of the U.S. Catholic population of about 65 million, comprising the nation's largest religious denomination.
Presenters and presiders at the convocation will include Bishop Gerald Barnes of San Bernardino, Chairman, USCCB Committee on Migration; Ms. Cecile Motus, Director, Pastoral Care of Migrants and Refugees, USCCB; Ms. Eunice Park, Board of Directors, Young Adult Catholic Ministry Association; Rev. Peter C. Phan, Chair of Catholic Social Thought, Georgetown University; Sister Shalini D'Souza, Superior General, Sisters of Charity of Nazareth, KY; Mr. Symeon Rendall Yee, Director of Faith Formation, St. Kevin Church, Los Angeles.
Among the many workshops are those entitled The Asian and Pacific Young Adult Woman; The Broken Bamboo: Towards Retrieving Our Sacred Memories for Social Transformation; Asian and Pacific Americans and Vocations; Justice for Immigrants in the U.S. and the Scourge of Human Trafficking.
The lead organizer of the convocation, NAPCO, was established in 2004 as a response to the USCCB statement. NAPCO seeks to bring to the Church's attention the issues affecting Asians and Pacific Islanders, to dialogue and advocate for Asian and Pacific Catholics with bishops, dioceses, and other national Catholic organizations, to strengthen the connection to the local church, and to advocate for social justice issues in Asian and Pacific communities.