The gift of multiculturalism, celebrating new friendships, exploring faith-based perspectives of Indigenous values and traditions, and a trip to the famous Cable Beach were highlights of the 2016 ASEACCU Conference, hosted by The University of Notre Dame Australia’s Broome Campus.
Notre Dame welcomed more than 170 delegates including university leaders, academics and students from across Australia as well as Southeast and East Asia, to the heart of Western Australia’s Kimberley region for the Conference from 22-28 August 2016. Delegates began arriving in Broome from Monday 21 August, with many staying on in the town or travelling across WA to visit some of the State’s attractions well after the Conference.
The aim of the Association of Southeast and East Asian Catholic College and Universities Conference (ASEACCU) is to reflect on challenges that are universal in nature, develop multinational and multi-institutional links, and continue to share the gift of faith across each community.
Comprising a student immersion program, an academic forum and an annual meeting of the leaders of Catholic universities and colleges of the region, the 2016 ASEACCU Conference provided delegates with the unique opportunity to hear from Indigenous people about their perspectives of land, country and culture, and to explore their faith in that context.
Professor Celia Hammond, Notre Dame’s Vice Chancellor, said the University’s Broome Campus provided the ideal backdrop for this year’s ASEACCU Conference which reflected in detail on the theme Valuing Indigenous Cultures and Traditions in the Care for our Common Home.
“Drawing on our shared Catholic faith and wisdom, all delegates were able to explore and consider the message of Jesus Christ as reflected in Pope Francis’s encyclical Laudato si’ through a greater understanding of religion and Aboriginal culture in Australia’s Kimberley region,” Professor Hammond said.
“What was most pleasing, however, was the sense of community that developed throughout the week. The universal feedback the University has received from visitors has been sheer delight, appreciation and awe at the unity, spirit and friendliness that the ASEACCU Conference had created between the student and staff delegates.”
As part of the student program, delegates visited the Aboriginal community of Beagle Bay; shared lunch with the Kimberley Stolen Generation Aboriginal Corporation; explored the history of the cosmos on Cable Beach; and heard from Fr Denis Edwards and community leaders Peter Yu and Mark Bin Bakar on their perspectives of Laudato si’.
An enjoyable trip to Cable Beach for student delegates.
Throughout the Conference, students celebrated the diverse languages and cultures of their new friends through art, storytelling and song, as well as sampled local Australian cuisine.
The 2016 ASEACCU Academic Forum was hosted by the Religion and Global Affairs Program, an initiative of the Institute for Ethics and Society at Notre Dame. Principal partners of the Forum are the academic journals Philippiniana Sacra (University of Santo Tomas, Manila) and Solidarity (The University of Notre Dame Australia).
Dr Michael Polito (Sophia University), Dr Inna Reddy Edara (Fu Jen Catholic University), Finsensius Yuli Purnama (Widya Mandala Catholic University) and Dr Joefrey Almazan (Saint Louis University, Baguio City) delivered papers as part of the Forum.
The Conference Mass at Our Lady Queen of Peace Cathedral was celebrated by Bishop Christopher Saunders, and the Closing Ceremony and Dinner was held at St Mary’s College. Assumption University of Thailand will host the ASEACCU Conference in 2017.
“We were delighted to welcome delegates from across the Southeast and East Asian region for this historic ASEACCU Conference in Broome and to facilitate the celebration and growth of our special community of faith,” Professor Peta Sanderson, Pro Vice Chancellor International and Research at Notre Dame, said.
“Our special thanks go to Fr Dagohoy OP, ASEACCU Executive Secretary; Fr Barnabe D’Souza, Deputy Secretary General of International Federation of Catholic Universities; and all event sponsors for making this ASEACCU Conference such a success.”
Please visit the official ASEACCU Facebook page for photos and other highlights from the Broome Conference.