Commission on Restructuring in the Congregation Report of the First Meeting

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Tuesday, 14 December 2004

Dear Confreres,

In response to the directive of the XXIII General Chapter, the General Council appointed the members of the Commission on Restructuring which held its first meeting in Rome from December 10 – 14 2004. The Commission had joint sessions with the General Council as well as meeting on its own.

The Commission elected Fr. Lasso de la Vega y Miranda as Chairperson. The other members of the Commission are Cornelius Casey (Dublin), Guy Pilote (Ste-Anne de Beaupré), José Ulysses da Silva (São Paulo), Brendan Kelly (Cebu), Lawrence Kaufmann (South Africa).

From the very beginning it was clear that there is a real need for some restructuring of the Congregation to ensure apostolic vitality and effectiveness in a world of rapid change with changing human realities.

Initially our discussion centered on some projects of restructuring that are already underway.

  • In some cases, in a Region or sub-Region, several Units of the Congregation have begun to organize together. A good example is the “Union of Redemptorists of Brazil”, (URB). The URB has no formal statutes, but it elects a President for a three year term and provides him with a travel budget. Its main field of common interest is formation. It also has a Secretariat for Spirituality and is involved in common planning for popular missions. It has two annual meetings. The URB helped the Vice-Province of Recife to regenerate and eventually to come under the wing Sao Paulo. At present confreres from three Units in the URB assist in Surinam and in Manaus. There are four Novitiates in Brazil, all open to each other, with a distribution of novices which allows for no less than six in a Novitiate.

From this example, what is of particular significance in terms of the Commission’s vision of restructuring, is the manner in which conditions are attached to responses to requests for help. It is never a question of propping up existing ministries but, as in the case of Recife and Manaus, a commitment to the mission of the Congregation as a whole, including formation and popular missions.

  • In other Units a different process for restructuring has been employed. Some Units, declining in numbers to the point of crisis, invited confreres from other Units to help keep things going. Historically these have had mixed results. In many cases they did not flourish.
  • In several instances, two or more Provinces have merged to form a single new Province.
  • And there are other projects of restructuring and reorganizing of diverse kinds.

It was clear from this initial discussion that we needed a period of study, to reflect on existing and diverse efforts at restructuring, before formulating proposals.

Accordingly, beginning at the Regional level, we have adopted the following plan of action:

Plan of Action (Phase 1) 2004 – 2006

1.      January to July 2005

The Commission, with the help of the General Consultors, will gather information and review the various projects and/or experiments in restructuring already under way in the various Regions of the Congregation.

The Commission will also gather information on the functioning of the present six global Regions of the Congregation. In doing so it will seek to take account of what in each Region serves, or does not serve, apostolic vitality in relation to mission, formation, finance and governance. It will also include a review of the composition of each Region as to the effectiveness of this composition for apostolic vitality.

The review will be the responsibility of the Commissioner of that Region, working in dialogue with the General Consultor for the Region, and the (Sub) Regional Coordinator.

2.      The Commission will meet in late August 2005

At this meeting, the Commission will reflect on the review it has undertaken and seek to determine which projects are more successful than others. This reflection will seek to uncover criteria to make proposals to take restructuring further.

These proposals will be offered to the Congregation in a document which will present (a) a vision of where we want to be in 5 years, both at the General and the Regional levels, and (b) outline various strategies as to how to realize that vision.

3.      Discussion at the Regional Level

The proposals will be submitted to all the Regions for study and discussion.

Regions will be requested to submit their responses to the Commission by the end of 2005.

4.      Commission and General Council meet: December 2005

During a meeting of the Commission and the General Council in December 2005, concrete

proposals for action will be prepared for presentation at the mid-sexennium meetings in 2006.

5.      Phase II: Mid-sexennium Meetings to General Chapter, 2009

The next phase, Phase II, will be from the mid-sexennium meetings to the General Chapter of 2009. It is expected that during this Phase the Commission will look more closely at the matter of restructuring of the Congregation from the global perspective.

We are aware of the seriousness of the issues involved in this endeavor and so we ask your cooperation and prayers as we seek to carry it through.

Juan Manuel Lasso de la Vega y Miranda
Cornelius Casey
Guy Pilote
José Ulysses da Silva
Brendan Kelly
Lawrence Kaufmann

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