I am delighted to write this first editorial since our ASEACCU conference in Cambodia last August. The conference, with the theme “Memory and Identity” was an important experience for many of us and was personally transformative for me for three reasons.
In the first instance, this year’s annual conference was the first time since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic that our Catholic colleges and universities could gather together in-person. The opportunity to look into each other’s eyes as we spoke, hear the sound of laughter emanating around us, and share meals collectively was deeply moving. Secondly, holding the conference in Cambodia, with its particular history over the past 50 years, put us face-to-face with the Reality of what happens in a society when the inviolable sacredness of the human person is denied or forgotten. Lastly, I remain inspired by the enduring Hope and irrepressible Joy I witnessed in the Catholic community there, especially from the Apostolic Vicar of Phnom Penh, Bishop Olivier Schmitthaeusler and the staff and students of the Saint Paul Institute, led by their gracious and energetic President, Phon Sophal.
The conference was attended by representatives of 38 member institutions from across Southeast and East Asia and Australasia. I know from the conversations that I had at the conference, and from what the organising team and the executive board shared with me, that the faculty, leadership and student participants found great joy in being a part of the conference.
At the end of the conference, my own university, the University of Saint Joseph, Macao, was deeply honoured by its election as the Executive Secretariat of ASEACCU for the next three years. We are indebted to the work of Fr. Richard Ang, OP and the University of Santo Tomas in Manila, and we promise you our very best efforts to continue their good stewardship of this position.
We also resolved to hold our next conference – at which I hope to see so many of you – at Saint Louis University, in beautiful Baguio City, Philippines. Please watch out for further details regarding dates, times, and registration which will be coming out in the next two months.
This edition of the newsletter is full of interesting news from our member universities and from both ASEACCU and IFCU. It is easy, in our individual institutions, to forget that as Catholic colleges and universities, we are part of the largest family of higher education institutions in the world. The impact that we have across our regions, where nearly 1/3 of the world’s population lives, is immense. The stories in this newsletter are a glimpse into the tremendous work being done by ASEACCU members. Together they tell the tale of the impressive impact and witness to our diverse societies that is the Good News of Jesus Christ, God made Man for our Salvation.
The Rev’d Professor Stephen Morgan, Rector
University of Saint Joseph, Macao
ASEACCU Executive Secretariat