From 28 October to 3 November of 2019, the 6th CADIS (Camillian Disaster Service International) leaders’ and partners’ conference was held at the Catholic Missionary Centre of the Diocese of Chiang Mai, a region in the north of Thailand. The 36 participants (religious, and lay collaborators) from 13 countries reflected on the theme Deep Journey into Laudato Si: Towards a New Prophetic Task of the Camillian Disaster Service International and Partners.
The event started on the evening of Sunday, October 27, with a suggestive welcome ritual organized by the hill tribes (Karen and Lahu) of northern Thailand. The tribal leaders performed a ritual of asking the ‘little spirits’ and the ‘big spirit’ to bless each participan.
Fr. Niphot Thianwiha, a diocesan priest, offered the Christian prayer invoking the Trinity and the intercession of the Blessed Mother Mary. It was followed by the symbolic blessing, together with the tribal leaders, by handing over to each of the participants a white thread bracelet and the invocation of the ‘spirits’ for protection. The ceremony concluded with the traditional drinking and sharing of the rice wine of the Karen tribe, drunk by all in a single container, as a symbol of unity in spirit.
The first two days of the conference (28-29 October) were dedicated to the symposium on the encyclical Laudato Si’ entitled: “Deep- Journey into Laudato Sì” facilitated by Fr. John Leydon, SSC and Sr. Elizabeth Carranza of the Global Catholic Climate Movement (GCCM) Pilipinas. The objective of this ‘profound journey’ on the encyclical of Pope Francis was to involve and train the participants for a more qualified awareness on the public opinion on the urgency of responding to the call of Laudato Sì – to take care of our common home. This path is born and develop in-depth, in the spiritual dimension; hence, the need for each one of us to make an ecological conversion.
The fruits of ecological conversion will help us to simplify our lives by reducing the carbon footprints of our daily activities.
The itinerary also involves the awakening of the dreamer in us through these provocative questions:
1.Where are we?
Look at our current situation, both global and local, and ask ourselves these questions. What is happening to our common home? How can we live and reconcile these three fundamental concerns of environmental sustainability, spiritual fulfillment and social justice?
2.How did we get here?
How did it happen? Identify the causes of the current ecological crisis by the unexamined assumptions despite the current situation, and continue to hope that a new story can be written, a new way of relating with other living beings, and with the earth which can be realistically lived.
3. What can be possibly done now?
4. Where to go?
Identify and express our answers to the call of Laudato Si’ to take care of our common home, the commitment to Laudato Si’ to put it into practice.The third and fourth day, (30-31 October), under the guidance of the members of the “Research and Training Center for Religio-cultural Community” (RTRC) of Fr. Niphot, the participants, divided into four groups, spent overnight in the four hill tribe villages of Pa Pae, Nong Tao, Khun Pae, Pa Na to learn and share with their lived experience. The particularity of these villages made up of immigrants and often marginalized by the Thai government is the importance and respect they attach to nature and all its elements.The inhabitants live in symbiosis with every manifestation of nature, rejecting any form of agriculture that harms the authentic spirit of nature. It was a very enriching experience for each participant as they shared their unique experience on the fifth day (November 1) with Fr. Niphot.
The last two days (2-3 November) were dedicated to the evaluation of CADIS’s 2014-2020 strategic plan. Under the guidance of Fr. Samuel Cuarto, CADIS leaders gave an introspective look at the life and activities of the Foundation over the last five years. The sharing through the ‘world café’ activity highlighted the future challenges of CADIS and the Order in response to the theme chosen for the next general chapter of the Order – What is the Camillian prophecy today?
All of this took place with great efficiency. It was above all a precious opportunity to share the experiences and mutual knowledge for the development of CADIS, for increasingly qualified care to the victims of disasters and the most vulnerable people