Fr Peter Pojol SJ has been named as the new Director of the East Asian Pastoral Institute (EAPI) to succeed Fr Arthur Leger SJ who has held the position since 2011. The appointment was announced by the President of the Jesuit Conference of Asia Pacific, Fr Mark Raper SJ, following the endorsement of the EAPI Board of Trustees.
Fr Pojol, a Filipino, is a familiar face in EAPI where he has been a popular lecturer over the last five years. He is currently Vice President for Academic Affairs at Loyola School of Theology. Although he graduated as an engineer before joining the Society of Jesus, Fr Pojol went on to gain a Doctorate in Sacred Theology from Boston College, specialising in Moral Theology.
EAPI is a major work of the Jesuit Conference of Asia Pacific. It traces its history back over 65 years to when Jesuits were expelled from mainland China. Having started as a catechetical centre, EAPI was given a new mission 50 years ago by then Fr General Pedro Arrupe to help implement Vatican II in Asia Pacific. Since then it has become the Asian hub for theological renewal and updating, experimentation and exploration in the Church.
Its mission is to model a new way of being Church and the Director’s role is to gather and guide a team of religious and lay women and men to achieve this. Among Fr Pojol’s predecessors is Fr Adolfo Nicolás, the former Superior General of the Society, who on his retirement late last year returned to Manila with a desire to continue to be engaged in the life of EAPI.
Under the direction of Fr Leger, EAPI has concentrated on the themes of Pastoral Leadership and Renewal. Each year it conducts six core programmes that attract a mixed group of lay, religious and priests from all over Asia Pacific and beyond, including Africa and Latin America. In addition, extension teams constantly visit local Churches, providing training and consultations. EAPI is like a “mother ship” that nourishes and supports many national and diocesan pastoral centres around Asia Pacific.
“Peter faces a big challenge to follow in Arthur’s footsteps,” Fr Raper remarked. “The mission of EAPI is renewal, so it too must constantly renew its curriculum, teaching methods and facilities to stay relevant and help the local Church be relevant in their various contexts.”
The changeover will take place by October this year, giving Fr Leger time to prepare for his next assignment as Rector of the Pacific Regional Seminary in Fiji, commencing in early 2018.