Office of Laity and Family (OLF)
The Office of Laity and Family started in 1982 as a Committee for Laity,
ad experimentum, responding to the felt needs of the times.
One of its initial tasks was to assist the Pontifical Council
for Laity in organizing the first Laity Meeting for Asia in 1982.
This was followed by the regional Bishops’ Institute for Lay Apostolate (BILA) held in:
- 1984 – BILA 1, Changhua, Taiwan, for East Asia
- 1986 – BILA 2, Bangalore, India, for South Asia
- 1986 – BILA 3, Singapore, for Southeast Asia.
These first 3 BILAs were a venue for dialogue among bishops,
priests, religious and lay people. They were occasions to know
what programs have been going on to train lay people and to create
awareness in their role and vocation.
The portfolio of Family was given to the Office of Laity after the decision of the Central Committee to focus on the Family at the 8th FABC Plenary Assembly 2004.
The Ist BILA on Family was held at the Redemptorist Centre, Pattaya, Thailand
From 11th to 16th June, 2007 to discover “Avenues/Approaches to Respond to the Challenges in Pastoral Care to Families in the 21st Century”.
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The IV FABC Plenary Assembly in 1986 was on the theme:
“The Vocation and Mission of the Laity in the Church and in
the World of Asia”. This was directly preparing for the
World Synod on the Laity and the bishops examined the roles
of the lay faithful in the areas of: politics, the youth,
the plight of Asian women, the family, the world of education,
the mass media, the world of work, in business and health services.
It was during this Assembly that the Committee for the Laity became
a full fledged Office of Laity in the FABC, with Fr. Jess Brena SJ
as its first Executive Secretary, based in Taipei, Taiwan.1986
After the Synod that sparked the whole Church to reflect and affirm
the role of lay people, BILA 4 was held (February, 1988) as a follow up.
It was also to look more in depth at Asia’s own journey. This BILA brought
together the bishop-chairmen of the Laity commissions in the 14 member
Conferences of FABC. They reached a consensus that
the two top priorities for the coming years were: Formation and Lay Spirituality.
They also asked for concrete examples to allow greater lay participation.
In December of that same year, the Office of Laity organized an exposure to
the BEC experiences of the Philippines. BILA 4 also commissioned the Office
to organize regional BILAs on formation. Thus the next series of BILAS were held:
- 1991 – BILA 5, Macao, for East Asia
- 1992 – BILA 6, Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia for Southeast Asia
- 1993 – BILA 7 meant for South Asia, was postponed as a region but carried out in Pakistan.
These BILAs were asking: How do we prepare our lay people for greater involvement?
What type of formation programs will respond to the present demands? These BILAs examined
and evaluated the existing formation programs at the diocesan and/or national levels and
learnt from them. They were also responding to the 1990 FABC V Bandung statement which
asked for formation for the “New Way of Being Church’ facing the challenges of the 1990s
(V FABC#8). Given greater emphasis to the Church Social Teachings and the inter-religious
dimension of the life in Asia, these BILAs affirmed that formation to bring about change
is for all, not only for the lay people, but for the clergy and religious as well.In 1993 the Office of Laity entered a new phase with two lay people heading the
office: Ms. Cora Mateo as Executive Secretary, and Mr. Jun Hashimoto as Assistant.
The focus was then new set on:
Church social Teachings and the vocation of the Laity – in their specific areas of living and working, networking with people of other faiths, with emphasis on the implementation of the Social Teachings of the Church.
Training of Trainers – towards a Participatory Church, a Church that is a “Communion of Communities” using the AsIPApproach.
Youth – to strengthen the contact among those involved in youth ministry in Asia, to carry out the recommendations given in FABC Plenary Assemblies with regards to youth, allowing the voice of the young to be heard and creating more channels for their participation.
Women – focusing on issues and concern that affect women and in a particular way, to encourage and offer opportunities for greater recognition and channels of partnership of women and men in carrying out the Church’s mission.
In June 1993, the FABC OL organized in cooperation with the
FABC Office of Human Development a Youth Consultation, which
recommended that the FABC establish a Desk for Youth within
the FABC Office of Laity. Mr. Jun Hashimoto was entrusted with the
newly established Youth Desk. One year later, the FABC Office of Laity established a Women’s Desk with Mrs. Virginia Saldanha as its Secretary. From 2004 and 2011 the Youth Desk was ably led by Ms Joy Candelario and in 2012 Fr. Simon Patrick Gomes took over from her till the present. In 2010 the AsIPA Desk was taken over by Dr. Bibiano Joo Hyun Ro to date.
In January 2000 Mrs. Virginia Saldanha took office as Executive Secretary of the Office of Laity and Family and Ms. Cora Mateo continued to work for FABC OLF on AsIPA Desk untill 2009. Ms Wendy Louis took over the AsIPA Desk in 2009 and the Laity & Family & Women's Desk subsequently from Mrs Saldanha in 2010 till now.