(Vatican Radio) A Filipino is the new head of the Jesuit Conference of Asia Pacific. Father Arturo Sosa, the superior general of the worldwide Society of Jesus, or Jesuits, has appointed Father Antonio F Moreno, the current provincial of the Philippines, as the next president of the regional Conference. He succeeds Father Mark Raper, the former provincial of Australia, who headed the Conference for 9 years. Fr. Moreno will assume office within the next six months.
"The fact that the Society relies so much on the Philippine Province at this time is surely an indication of the maturity and quality of the Province," Fr. Sosa wrote in a letter dated April 22 appointing the new president of the Jesuit Conference of Asia Pacific. He noted that the success of the Philippine Province is the "product of so many fine missionaries from other provinces who were sent to, began, and built up the Philippine Province." Fr. Sosa expressed his gratitude to the Philippine Province and asked its members to accept his decision "in the spirit of generosity and trust in God’s Providence."
Fr. Moreno became head of the Philippine Province in 2013 after six years as president of Ateneo de Zamboanga in the southern Philippines. He holds a doctorate in Development Studies from the University College of Wales and a Master in Philosophy on Development Studies from the University of Sussex. He went to Ateneo de Manila University for his Bachelor of Arts in Pre-Divinity and his Masters in Theology. After his ordination in 1993, Fr. Moreno taught at St. John Vianney Theological Seminary while doing pastoral work in Culion in the central Philippines, the world’s largest leper colony.
As president of the Jesuit Conference of Asia Pacific, Fr. Moreno will be coordinating and facilitating the mission of the Society of Jesus in Australia, Cambodia, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Laos, Macau, Malaysia, Myanmar, New Zealand, Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, Timor-Leste and Vietnam. The approximately 1,600 Jesuits in the Jesuit Conference of Asia Pacific account for about 10 percent of the total number of Jesuits in the world.
In his letter, Fr. Sosa expressed his gratitude to Fr. Raper for his "nine years of dedicated and fruitful service as conference president." "I pray that, as you come to the end of your term, the Lord may fill you with much gratitude and consolation, as you see how much he has done in and through you to serve the Society’s mission in Asia Pacific," the Jesuit superior general wrote.
Prior to becoming the Conference president, Fr Raper served as provincial of the Jesuits in Australia from 2002 to 2008. He was President of Catholic Religious Australia from 2005 to 2007. He spent 20 years in the service of refugees, first as the Regional Director of Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) for Asia Pacific beginning in 1982 and he set up a base for JRS in Bangkok, Thailand where he stayed from 1985 to the end of 1989 and then as the International Director of Jesuit Refugee Service, based in Rome, Italy from 1990 to 2000. In 2004, he received the Australian Council for International Development (ACFID) 2004 Human Rights Award, in recognition of his 30 years of commitment to the advancement of human rights. Fr Raper is expected to move to Myanmar where he has been the major superior of the Jesuit mission since 2011.