(Ciorani, Italy) The second Assembly scheduled by the General Government for Italy, took place from 19 to 23 February 2018, in Ciorani, at the Mother House of the Congregation. The participation was great! The capacity of the house was not big enough to accommodate all, so several confreres came to the assembly from the neighbouring houses. Altogether there were 45 participants, most of them Italian, from the two sister Provinces of Rome and Naples. But there was also the presence of two confreres from Poland, two from India, two from Spain, one from Mexico, one from Madagascar, one from Vietnam and one from Burkina Faso. In short, it was like a beautiful rainbow of colours and cultures, as well as age: 92 years to 22 years (yes, there were also two novices!).
The Assembly was days of intense debate and mutual enrichment. To find oneself, for many it was an occasion for celebration and joyful fraternity. The liturgy was very rich with diversity. The work of the groups was a moment in which to deal with different cultures in the Assembly that allowed the two animators of the Visitation, Fr. Alberto Exeberri, Vicar General, and Fr. Piotr Chyła, Director of the Redemptorist Spirituality Centre, to present the enormous work produced by the XXV General Chapter.
Although many confreres had the opportunity to know – from the documents as well as from the Visit of Provincial Superiors – the Message and the numerous Capitular Decisions, Ciorani had more time to focus on the subject, to discuss and express its opinion. There were Powerpoint presentations that allowed us to follow more closely the whole matter in its importance and complexity.
In the face of all this matter, opinion has not always been positive. Some have complained that the General Chapter has produced too many decisions, renouncing its managerial role or a clear “vision” on the future of the Congregation. Others have deprecated the absence in the documents of a language more consonant with that of our Constitutions and Statutes, as well as of the Alphonsian tradition. Others continue to see the Conferences as an organism too far from the mission and from the real problems experienced by Provinces and Vice-Provinces.
But it must be said that the final balance of this week has been more than positive. Everyone could express his opinion. Everyone has been able to realize what a challenge it is of so many historical and decisive aspects for the future of the Redemptorists in the Church of today and tomorrow. Everyone could help in defining the priorities of the Congregation in Italy and in Europe.
The program of the Assembly was fully respected, including the visitors’ meeting with the laity at Pagani, on the 21st Wednesday evening of February. There was a representation of about thirty of our collaborators. Others were prevented from coming, at least from neighbouring houses, because of the rain that has raged almost all week. But even in this case, the meeting was interesting and there were many testimonies.
In fact, bad weather has been a disturbing element for this Assembly. But if on the one hand, it created some discomfort, on the other it forced to stay more inside the house, and to increase opportunities to have a coffee together, to chat, laugh and get to know each other. Only some confreres dared to venture out, seeking shelter under an arch or a tree, but always in a happy company!
Fr. Serafino Fiore CSsR