WITNESSES OF THE REDEEMER:
In Solidarity for Mission to a Wounded World
Dear Confreres, Sisters, Redemptorist Associates and friends,
Each year we celebrate the feast of St. Alphonsus Maria Liguori in a spirit of gratitude and joy for the gift that he is for the whole Church, for the Congregation and the Redemptorist Family, and for each one of us personally. This year, as we celebrate the Mid-Sexennium Meetings and the important decisions that we will make about the Apostolic and Restructuring Plans in each Conference, we are especially grateful for the example of openness to conversion and to the will of God that Alphonsus has given us in his life and his writings.
For St. Alphonsus, ‘conversion’ is not only conversion from sin, but much more importantly conversion to the will of God and to the practice of the love of Jesus Christ. This conversion is a lifelong process, which involves a spirit of openness, willingness to learn and to change, to read the ‘signs of the times’ in the light of the Gospel and to respond to the real needs of God’s people – especially those on the peripheries, the abandoned and the poor.
Even in his final years in Pagani, in 1785, Alphonsus gives us this witness clearly in his reply when he is told about the mission of Clement Hofbauer and Thaddeus Huebl who are sent ‘beyond the Alps’ to establish the Congregation. Alphonsus recognized that new situations and new ages will call for adaptation and growth – but the heart of our missionary vocation remains the same as we follow the example of Jesus Christ our Redeemer preaching the Gospel to the abandoned and the poor (cf. Cons. 1).
Since the 25th General Chapter in 2016, we have been listening carefully to the Holy Spirit as we have engaged in this process of discernment – through study and dialogue, reflection and prayer, in every (V) Province, Region and in every Conference. The Conference Commissions for the Apostolic and Restructuring Plan, as well as Assemblies, Chapters, and Councils, have worked together with perseverance and openness. Together, we seek to make this spirit which animated Alphonsus our own spirit.
The Conference of Latin America and the Caribbean celebrated its Mid-Sexennium Meeting in June. This was an important step in the process which continues throughout the Congregation. As we celebrate St. Alphonsus, The Conference of Africa and Madagascar is gathered in Nairobi, Kenya in its Mid-Sexennium Meeting, which will conclude on August 10th. Soon, it will be the turn of North America in September, Europe in October, and Asia-Oceania as we begin November. May St. Alphonsus inspire all the delegates and accompany our discernment. May his Spirit continue to animate the Congregation in joy and hope so that our decisions truly respond to God’s call to our Congregation today.
Your brother in Christ our Redeemer, and in the spirit of St. Alphonsus,
Michael Brehl, C.Ss.R.