Office of Human Development (OHD)
In 1965, 150 Catholic priests met in Hongkong for the Priests' Institute of Social Action (PISA).
The aim of this seminar was to bring new dimensions into the social action apostolate for the Church in Asia.
This was the result of the growing consciousness which the Church that we have a message for the world of Asia
undergoing drastic changes.
Four years later, June 1969, forty bishops, priests and laymen from Asia gathered at the Jesuit
House in Baguio, Philippines. It was an important meeting for here the concept of an Asian wide social
action office was first discussed.
While PISA in Hongkong was a training seminar, the Baguio meeting was a gathering of social
action veterans coming together to exchange experiences and to find better ways of working and
cooperating with one another.
During the meeting, the nine bishops present met informally and expressed the need for
keeping an open lines of communications among themselves with and the various national
Episcopal commissions. They felt a secretariat with a chairman and a full-time secretary would be useful.
They discussed this with the larger body and eventually decided to have the office in Manila under Bishop
Julio Xavier Labayen and Father Horacio Dela Costa as chairman and secretary respectively.
The year was 1970 - the beginning of a decade for the emerging Asian Church. It was an historic
occasion, in November 1970, when for a first time a pontiff would set foot in the Philippines, the only
Catholic country in Asia.
Plans were made already in the air to organize a Bishops' conference of Asia similar to the Bishops' Conference of Latin America. But it has to be something much more humble - a federation of bishops' conferences, a forum to exchange experiences and be enriched by the exchange - it was to be a structure to enable bishops of Asia to know each other.
What drew them together to gather around the visiting pontiff, Pope John Paul VI, is the earnest desire to become a genuine Asian Church. The Church that must become the Church of the poor because the majority of the people of Asia are poor.
In establishing the Federation of Asian Bishops' Conferences (FABC), the bishops provided for a central committee consisting of the president or each national conference, and a standing committee which would take charge of the day-to-day work. These two committees were given assignment of coordinating and assisting in almost all matters of Church interest, although the concerns of Justice and Development were given a special priority.
On November 28, 1970, Cardinal Darmosurmono of Indonesia, Bishop Hsu of Hongkong, Bishop Labayen and Fr. De La Costa met with representative of Miserior to determine how the Asian office they had planned at Baguio the year before could be integrated into the new plan of the Asian Bishops. They decided to leave it to the Central Committee, which was scheduled to meet in Hongkong in March 1971.
The Bishops decided to accept the office described in Baguio, in December 1971, as their own Office for Human Development (OHD), with one important change: it would be at the service of all Asia, where the original concept had in mind only east and south east Asia.
During its years of existence, the Office of Human Development continue the process of dialogue among themselves and with the poor. The following programmes will best describe the office's contribution to the Church in Asia.
- Bishops' Institute for Social Action (BISA) Series (I - VII)
- Asian Institute for Social Action (AISA) Series (I - VII)
- Faith Encounters in Social Action (FEISA) Series (I - VI)