[Blueboard] Fr. Catalino Arevalo, SJ: FABC's Premier Theologian (in www.ateneo.edu)

Gia D. Dumo gdumo at ateneo.edu
Fri Aug 28 11:25:58 PHT 2009

Fr. Catalino Arevalo, SJ: FABC's Premier Theologian

Fr. Catalino Arevalo, SJ, professor emeritus of the Ateneo de Manila
University Loyola School of Theology, received an Award of Recognition at
the 9th Plenary Assembly of the Federation of Asian Bishops' Conferences
(FABC) on August 16, 2009 at Pius XII Center, Manila.

The FABC, an association of episcopal conferences in South, Southeast, East
and Central Asia, conferred the award for his service to the federation, in
particular for his role as chair of the federation's Theological Advisory
Commission from 1985 to 1995. Father Arevalo was also recognized for
authoring the concluding document of the 1st FABC plenary assembly held in
Taipei in 1974.


Below is the full text of the Federation of Asian Bishops' Conferences
(FABC) citation for Fr. Catalino Arevalo, SJ, also available at:

<http://www.ateneo.edu/index.php?p=120&type=2&aid=7212> &type=2&aid=7212


FABC's Premier Theologian

    "Without a vision, the people perish." This brief quote from the Book of
Proverbs (29:18) enables us to understand the pivotal role that the person
we are honoring today has played in the assembly of the local churches of
Asia. Father Catalino G. Arevalo, S.J. has served the Federation of Asian
Bishops' Conferences (FABC) since its beginnings in 1970. In November of
that year, when Pope Paul VI visited Manila and gathered together 180 Asian
bishops, Father Arevalo already served as peritus (resource person) for this
first-ever Asian Bishops' Meeting. From this organizational gathering, the
FABC would soon emerge-with a wide vision of service for all God's peoples
of Asia.

    In 1974, at the First FABC Plenary Assembly in Taipei, Taiwan, Father
Arevalo was the principal writing consultant for the first statement of the
Federation, entitled Evangelization in Modern Day Asia. This visionary
document has served the local churches in Asia so well; it remains the
single most influential articulation of the "vision and mission" of Asia's
churches in the post-Vatican II era. The depth of theological, pastoral, and
missionary insight of the programmatic document has enabled Asia's
missionary local churches to understand and implement a vision of integral
evangelization through dialogue. It has facilitated the reception of the
Second Vatican Council in the Asian continent. Indeed, today FABC can
properly be called "Asia's Continuing Vatican II."

    In fidelity to the promptings of the Holy Spirit and in communion of
filial oneness with the See of Peter, the FABC has pioneered a "new way of
being church" in Asia. As expressed in FABC I, "To preach the Gospel in Asia
today we must make the message and life of Christ truly incarnate in the
minds and lives of our peoples. The primary focus of our task of
evangelization then, at this time in our history, is the building up of a
truly local church" (9). The local church is a church incarnate in a people,
a church indigenous and inculturated. And this means concretely a church in
continuous, humble and loving dialogue with the living traditions, the
cultures, the religions [of Asia]" (12). The validity of this "triple
dialogue" vision, enunciated in 1974, has been repeatedly reaffirmed at
subsequent FABC Plenary Assemblies as well as in the pastoral praxis of
Christian communities across Asia.

    As an integral part of his service as theological advisor for the FABC
bishops (1970-1995), Father Arevalo was named in 1985 the first convener and
founding member of the Asian Bishops' Theological Advisory Commission (TAC).
In 1986, the FABC: TAC met in Hong Kong to begin treating the subjects of
the local church in Asia and interreligious dialogue. Participating in the
conference were theologians of the different member countries of the FABC
who had been appointed by their respective bishops' conferences.

    Renamed the FABC Office of Theological Concerns in 1997, the basic aims
of this FABC office are the following: (1) to foster Asian theological
reflections on issues which are of special interest for the Asian Churches;
(2) to be of assistance to the FABC in conceptualizing and making policies
for missionary and pastoral action; and, (3) to bring relevant contemporary
theological thinking into dialogue with "Asian" theological reflection
emerging from within the FABC countries and then to mediate the results to
the wider Church.

    Father Arevalo shepherded the TAC for a decade. During this period
several insightful and in-depth studies were produced. Theses on
Interreligious Dialogue (1987), Theses on Local Church (1990), and Asian
Theological Perspectives on Church and Politics (1992). In 1994, the FABC
sponsored the first FABC International Theological Colloquium with the
theme: Being Church in Asia: Journeying with the Spirit into Fuller Life.
These profound studies had as their central focus the development of an
"ecclesiology of the Asian churches." Along with the plethora of FABC
theological reflection, these materials are a privileged locus where the
voice and experience of the local churches of Asia are heard. 
    The committed involvement of "Father Revs" (as he is known by his many
students and friends) spans a wide spectrum of activity. He was the first
and for many years the only Asian to serve on the Pontifical International
Theological Commission. Through appointments by Popes Paul VI and John Paul
II, he served on that commission for twelve years. He was executive
coordinator and program director for two major theological conferences held
in Manila, the International Congress on Mission (1979) and the
International Conference on the alliance of Two Hearts (1987).

    In 1997 His Eminence, Jaime Cardinal L. Sin, Archbishop of Manila,
conferred upon him the award Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice and identified him as
"the Dean of All Filipino Theologians and the Godfather of hundreds of
priests." When he received the degree of Doctor of Humanities, honoris
causa, from the Ateneo de Manila University in 1998, Father Arevalo was
identified as "Father of Asian Theology," owing to his more than 9,000 pages
of theological writing "with an Asian emphasis." Speaking of his own
prodigious theological output, Father Arevalo simply says: "All this writing
has been done, I trust, in the service of the Church. My Jesuit vocation
places my life completely at the service of the Church: her people, her
communities, her leadership, her works."

    Father Arevalo has always remained involved in pastoral ministry in a
variety of apostolates. Former Philippine President Corazon Aquino has
revealed that he has been her family's spiritual confidant sine the
assassination of her husband Ninoy Aquino in 1983. She related that during
that time she prayed at a church in Boston for a Filipino priest with whom
she could talk. The following day, she said, Father Arevalo was at her
doorstep. When Corazon "Tita Cory" Aquino was finally laid to rest on August
5, 2009, Father Arevalo preached her funeral homily-fulfilling her and her
family's personal request.

    Thus, with sincere appreciation, the Ninth FABC Plenary Assembly is
pleased to recognize the invaluable and visionary contributions that Father
Catalino G. Arevalo, S.J. has made both to the Filipino nation and, through
the FABC, to all the peoples of Asia. In profound gratitude and prayer, we
lift you, your loved ones, your intentions, your life and priestly ministry
to the Father of Mercies. Father Arevalo, to you we extend our sincere,
heartfelt thank you. Maraming, maraming salamat! Together we pray:
Misericordias Domini in aeternum cantabo. Forever I will sing the mercies of
the Lord. Amen.

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