Roma, February 25, 2006
Prot. N° 0000 132/04
My dear Confreres,
I am pleased to introduce you a report from the Commission for Restructuring entitled “Work in Progress”. You will appreciate that this document is the fruit of widespread consultation and imaginative thinking. There is no doubt that the members of the Commission have been hard at work! It is also clear that the paper does not offer rigid pronouncements but rather helpful suggestions to spur dialogue among all Redemptorists.
You will recall that the last General Chapter asked that the Commission for Restructuring prepare a progress report in time for the six meetings at the midpoint of the sexennium (Orientation11.3). A draft of this report was presented to the General Council in December 2005 during a meeting in which all the members of the Commission were present. Afterwards, the Commission worked feverishly to edit the report in time for the first of the regional meetings, which took place in January. The other five regional meetings are scheduled for the second semester for 2006, so there is ample time for the confreres to study this document and offer suggestions to their respective major superior.
The General Chapter envisioned the process of restructuring as a product of wide-ranging reflection and dialogue among Redemptorists. To that purpose, I ask the major superiors to make available a copy of this report for each member of his unit. The document should be studied by the local communities and a summary of their impressions and suggestions should be brought to the regional meeting. Even though their regional meeting has already taken place, the communities of North America still have the opportunity to reflect on the recommendations of this document and pass on their ideas to Father Guy Pilote, the member of the Commission from their region.
In the name of the General Council, I thank the members of the Commission for Restructuring for the hard work which has produced this document and I encourage them to continue their precious service to our mission. I also count on the good will of all Redemptorists to study these proposals and help us to discern the will of God for our Congregation.
Joseph W. Tobin, C.Ss.R.
Commission for Restructuring
‘Work in Progress’
‘Giving our lives for plentiful redemption’, the theme adopted by the General Chapter of 2003 is intended to assert our identity and to appeal anew to our vocation. It intends to state again the guiding principle that shapes life for us as Redemptorists. We are to give witness to plentiful redemption by our life-style, our words and our apostolic endeavors.
In that same spirit the General Chapter also decided that it was time for us to seriously consider a revision of our ways of organizing ourselves for our mission. This came to be referred to and known as the need to consider ‘restructuring’ in the Congregation.
At present there are 37 Provinces, 24 Vice-Provinces, 16 regions, and 9 missions. These are further organized into 6 Regions: Asia-Oceania, Africa, America (North and South) and Europe (North and South).
The key question is: are these the most effective ways of mobilizing for mission today?
It should be noted that several other Congregations are also asking this question with respect to their own organization at this time.
These structures developed historically, mostly (though not always) in direct response to peoples’ needs in different cultures, with different languages, using different pastoral experiences. They were established mostly in response to peoples’ needs – but not always – for sometimes there were internal Redemptorist issues and pressures that influenced the development of the structures we now have.
Such structures, once in place, are often difficult to change, even when the pastoral needs of peoples – the raison d’etre – has dramatically altered. To maintain and to work within an outdated structure can be a serious hindrance to effective mobilization for mission.
For this reason the General Chapter mandated an overall review. It asked the General Council to establish a Commission for Restructuring, which is to bring proposals to the next General Chapter in 2009.
The Commission, in this document, presents initial proposals to all the confreres of the Congregation. These have been discussed with the General Council and modified in the light of that discussion.
They are now published for wider discussion by all confreres, and in (V) Provinces,  and in the six Regional meetings to be held in 2006.
The wider discussion is crucial.
When it comes down to it, there is one overriding reason for restructuring. The reason is this: so that we may continue our tradition. Our tradition is everything, and our tradition is mission. When we say, ‘our tradition is mission’ we don’t mean to imply that all of us are active, healthy and ready to go on the road. Many of us are old; many of us are frail or fragile, in one way or another. But it is still true that for all of us, without any exception, ‘giving our lives for plentiful redemption’ is the very core of the meaning of our life. We give expression to this central meaning in different ways, in different stages of life. This is the heart of the matter – for all of us.
If we believe in ourselves, then we must continue, and we must develop our tradition. It is not enough for us to say that we Redemptorists were those who in the past made sacrifices to preach the Gospel of salvation to the poor, the abandoned who were not being reached. We have to say that today Redemptoristsare those who are making sacrifices in order to preach the Gospel of salvation to the most needy, those not being reached by anyone else. The proposals for restructuring for effective mission will undoubtedly mean sacrifice. It is for this reason that we need wide discussion so that we can come to the best proposals for effective mission in our tradition. It will mean sacrifice and difficult decisions.
“Since they are always obliged to seek new apostolic initiatives under the guidance of legitimate authority, they cannot allow themselves to settle down in surroundings and structures in which their work will no longer be missionary. On the contrary, they will diligently pioneer new ways of preaching the Gospel anew,”Constitution 15.
This document has three sections.
The first section gives five general principles. We ask for your response: are these the right general principles? Could they be better expressed? Are important principles missing?
The second section deals with models and some other implications of restructuring. We ask: are these useful models? Are there others? What about the general shape that seems to be emerging?
The third section looks at the Congregation in each of the six present geographical Regions. It offers proposals or suggestions. In reading this we ask you to look first to the areas of your own experience: are there other, perhaps better, proposals, suggestions? But we also ask you to look at the other Regions – the overall shape of the Congregation is the concern of everyone.
Your response will influence the development of these proposals.
Feedback is crucial for us as we work towards a presentation of proposals for consideration at the General Chapter of 2009.
It should not be forgotten that it is possible, with the approval of the General Council, to already begin implementing some proposals in experimental form.
We can distinguish between ‘designing change’, on the one hand, and ‘managing change’ on the other. Proposals for ‘restructuring’ are in the area of designing change: all are invited to this discussion. This is the purpose of this document.
It is important that this document be read together withCommunicanda 1 – Called to Give Our Lives for Plentiful Redemption, which expresses more fully the motivation and the spirituality that underlies this whole endeavor in the Congregation at this time.
Confreres, the future of Redemptorist life will be what we want it to be. We do not simply wait for the future; our decisions now help create it.
Hope naturally implies taking risks. Without hope one can scarcely take risks and one prefers to stick to the beaten path even though it is the wrong one. Hope, on the other hand, gives us a creative and fighting spirit, enabling us to break with our desire to always conform and giving us the courage to change.
Juan Lasso de la Vega, C.Ss.R. (Europe-South)
Con J. Casey, C.Ss.R. (Europe-North)
Brendan J. Kelly, C.Ss.R. (Asia-Oceania)
Ulysses da Silva, C.Ss.R. (Latin America/Caribbean)
Guy Pilote, C.Ss.R. (North America)
Larry Kaufmann, C.Ss.R. (Africa)
Five Guiding Principles
1.The human world today is a rapidly changing world. It is in this world that we seek better structures to engage in our mission which is to preach the Gospel to the poor, to announce the fullness of redemption, to be with the abandoned. This is the fundamental motive and it is the first guiding principle in the restructuring of the Congregation.
I. Restructuring is for mission.
2. Restructuring for mission entails a new mentality, or it will be nothing. Our fundamental Redemptorist identity needs to be awakened anew by the rapidly changing human world in whichwe live. Who are we? We are those who, coming together based on faith in Jesus Christ, are consecrated in the Redemptorist charism, in ways deeper than any commitment to culture, nationality, tribe or family.
II. Restructuring for mission must prompt and stimulate an awakening of our identity, a conversion of our mentalities in line with our calling and a new availability – or it will all come to nothing.
3. Initially the Congregation was a single unit organized for mission. Then came a time when the Congregation had, essentially, two units of organization – St Clement Hofbauer’s work in the Transalpine countries and the Congregation in the ‘homelands’ of Naples and Rome. In 1841 the Congregation began a new organization for mission. It devolved into diverse Provinces; first across Europe, and then across the world. These diverse Provinces were reorganized again – without losing their identity – in the mid nineteen seventies, into six geographical Regions: Asia-Oceania, Africa, North America,Latin America, Europe South and Europe North and East. It is fair to say that the Congregation would not have survived until today without these historic reorganizations.
Today the Regions of the Congregation are geographically based. In these geographical entities the world today still finds some sense of home. But to a significant extent the movement of peoples today also transcends and overflows such boundaries.
III. Restructuring for mission should follow the people; it should be both a restructuring within our Regions, and no less, a restructuring across our Regional boundaries, following demographic shifts.
4. In this situation, it is important that the General Government be empowered to marshal and concentrate financial resources and confreres – and where possible lay co-workers – when new initiatives are required. We need to find new ways of balancing the localization of creativity and resources with a due centralization of resources when demanded by new initiatives or urgent situations.
IV. A new ability to concentrate resources for mission, to restructure resources for mission, is very important.
In some cases, it will be Provinces gathered together for an urgent new initiative that will be the agent of such a new concentration of resources. In other situations it will be the General Government, with an overall responsibility in the mission of the Congregation, which has the ability to call on and marshal resources as needed.
V. A vital part of our mission, both historically and in these times, is a theological reflection rooted in pastoral experience: some new deployment of our resources in this regard is a crucial part of the challenge for restructuring for mission today.
5. Some very modest suggestions are offered in what follows among our proposals for the Regions of Asia-Oceania andAfrica.
The fragility of the Congregation is easy to recognize today, as is the fragility of much of organized consecrated life in the Church. Certainly we are hardly likely to negotiate these times well unless we engage, as best we can, with the new challenges that the new human world presents to us.
There are no magic solutions. Moreover we cannot face these challenges without openness to working together with lay people and with other religious congregations. But it seems right that we should begin, and begin with courage. To this end, the following proposals are offered, Region by Region.
Some aspects and implications
A. MODELS OF RESTRUCTURING
In this section we present various models of structures for your consideration and comment. As models they simply serve the purpose of providing an operational or conceptual tool to assist us in setting up structures appropriate to our mission. The power of models is that they are able to evoke an imaginative response, enabling us to make the connection between charism, spirituality, and mission on the one hand and corresponding structural organization on the other. Placed in this section of the document, these models provide a bridge between the guiding principles in the previous section, and the proposals regarding Regions in the following section. It is important, therefore, to study them in that context.
The five models we present are drawn from past and present experience, but they may also suggest a new way of imagining our life as Redemptorists in the 21st Century. No one model is promoted over another. Indeed, we invite your suggestions for other possible models. Thus, it would be more helpful to see them as intersecting with each other in an open and expanding process, from the concept of a ‘fusion’ of two Units (Model 1) to a wide network of Units that transcend even regional boundaries (Model 5).
Structures are to serve mission. Restructuring is for the renewal of mission. We are therefore called to find ever new ways of working together and supporting each other in the apostolate, in formation and in finances. The five models that follow are presented as one possible approach in our common task of designing change.
- The Fusion of Units
Here, two or more Provinces unite and become one Province. Examples from recent decades are: the Denver Province (the union of St Louis and Oakland); the Edmonton-TorontoProvince (the union of Edmonton and Toronto); Burkina-Niger (the union of two Vice Provinces); Bolivia (the union of La Paz, Reyes and Tupiza).
A study of these developments would be helpful and instructive, addressing questions such as: What motivated the development? Has more effective mobilization for mission resulted? Has there resulted a better context for younger confreres in their life and mission?
- The Union of Units, maintaining regional identity
In the newly established Province of St. Clement, four former Provinces united, while each of the four retains an identity as a region in the Province, with appropriate structures.
It is too early to judge the effectiveness of this model. Nonetheless an account of the story to date would be instructive, for this is an innovative and courageous experiment.
- Federation of Units
This could be seen as a relatively new model, although some beginnings have been made. Examples of such beginnings are two Units in northeast Brazil (Fortaleza and Recife), four Units in southeast Asia (Ipoh, Cebu, Manila and Bangkok), the two Vice-Provinces in Paraguay, and Vienna and Munich. Once again, the primary purpose in adopting this model (as with others) is to serve mission through generating new resources, not simply retaining old ones.
In the federation model, Provinces come together in a relatively stable way, but with a looser organization that affords the possibility of retaining their identity while still working together in federation and overcoming unhealthy isolation. This has enabled them to take risks and take new initiative in mission.
There are three key elements to this model:
(1) Confreres in federated Units come to know each others’ reality fairly well. In doing so there is a cross-pollination of ideas, solidarity and synergy in supporting and encouraging each other. Practical ways of cooperating emerge.
(2) There are structured, on-going ways for clarifying mission objectives, maintaining the pastoral needs of people as the priority.
(3) There is adequate structure for decisions: perhaps a nominated ‘Praeses’ or Permanent Commission of the federation and an annual Chapter-style meeting with decision making powers.
Your suggestions on this model are to be welcomed, particularly on how to strengthen the decision-making structures. Furthermore, what are the implications of this model with regard to multiplicity of languages and plurality of Churches (as described in Constitution 1)?
We offer here for your consideration a new model drawn from our deliberations as a commission. This model arose from our reflections on the six major Regions. As mentioned in the Preface, Regions are a relatively new structure in the Congregation (ca. 1970s) and in fact are not reflected in our Constitutions. We have asked ourselves the question: are the Regions functioning for mission? If so, or if we continue to choose the broader regional structure, what aspect of this would most support the mission of the Congregation?
In response to these questions we suggest the ecclesial concept of a ‘Conference’ which would be an association of Units in a region or sub-region (or, in one suggestion proposed for the whole of Europe, across two regions), having broader powers for decision-making and implementation than exist at present within the Regions, and which would be motivated by a response to broader pastoral concerns and challenges such as, for example, secularization or migration. Thus, we could speak of a Conference of Redemptorists of Brazil, a Conference of Redemptorists of All Europe, etc.
Put simply, the main difference between an existing Region and a Conference is in the power to make and implement decisions. This may also have implications for the composition of the General Chapter and the General Government.
Since this model, and the one that follows, are relatively new, and to some extent supersede the Regions, we seek your insight, feedback and suggestions for further consideration.
- Network of Units
Here, an international network or ‘alliance’ of all Units already committed to the mission of the Congregation in a particular area, or those with an interest in this area, is envisaged.
By ‘particular area’ we refer to two possibilities: (1) A particulargeographical area such as the continent of Africa; (2) an area ofpastoral need having specific challenges, such as evangelization in a secularized world.
The first example will be examined in more detail later in this document when we offer the following proposal for Africa:
We propose the setting up of an international network of all Units already committed to the mission of the Congregation in Africa and others who in the future may wish to make a commitment to this continent.
There would be a regular meeting of this networking body, with the aim of learning about the challenges to mission in this area, sharing questions of mutual concern and policy, sharing financial resources, and becoming an instrument for the establishment of various initiatives and structures. This would apply to both a network for a geographical area and a network for a particular pastoral need.
We believe such a ‘networking’ arrangement would be more effective and expressive of solidarity, rather than having Units working in parallel as has been the case in the past.
Your response to models
Once again, we appeal to you within your communities, Units, and regional meetings, to discuss these models and provide feedback on whether or how they may be most effective in continuing the mission of the Congregation.
B. THE GENERAL GOVERNMENT
In re-organizing more effectively for mission, we need to recognize the authority afforded to the General Government according to our Constitutions. Thus, in matters such as our response to new pastoral demands, new forms of mission or new models for the structuring of our mission we affirm and accept the initiative proper to the General Government. This is crucial. We are an international Congregation living in an era that moves us all to a global reality. International solidarity in mission is vital as we proceed into the 21st Century and the General Government has a particular ministry and mission in this regard.
In saying this, we do not wish to detract from initiative and responsibility for mission within and between Units. We believe that this document adequately addresses this. Nevertheless, a vital aspect of restructuring will be to give consideration to the role and authority of the General Government.
C. INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITIES AND INTER-CONGREGATIONAL COMMUNITIES
Where the mission demands it, we must be prepared to form international communities, bearing in mind the various models proposed above. The concept of international communities continues to inspire the imagination of many confreres, but it needs to be examined more closely, giving attention to questions of adequate prior preparation, lines of authority, accountability, and sharing of resources.
What would be your advice and suggestions with regard to international communities?
Linked to this, but again, with urgency of mission and ministry as the primary motivation, is the concept and experience of inter-Congregational communities, which needs to be further explored. We must also give careful attention to co-operating with the laity and the ways in which this reality can be reflected in our apostolic community life in the future.
In this section we offer proposals for each Region. We ask you to give consideration to these proposals and we would welcome feedback. We also welcome suggestions for other proposals that would help our restructuring for more effective mission. It may be best to begin with the proposals for your own region, but we would also encourage you to reflect on the proposals presented for all the Regions.
EUROPE NORTH AND EUROPE SOUTH
In Europe, the Provinces of the Congregation are currently organized in two Regions, Europe South and Europe North. The Commission is reporting on these two Regions together: this is significant. We think that the Provinces of these Regions will have to find new ways of working together, across the Regions, eventually, perhaps, emerging as one Region.
- Looking to Europe overall, the greatest challenge for the Congregation is to move confreres from fragmentation, isolation and a struggle for survival to a shared sense of mission.
We must bear in mind that the Congregation is in danger of ceasing to exist in large parts of Europe.
We must also remember that for very many people in the heart of Europe there is a real poverty: religious, cultural and economic.
We propose that the (V) Provinces in Europe (both Regions together) seek to identify strategies for a Redemptorist contribution to a ‘new evangelization of Europe’ called for by our Church leadership and we request that the 2006 Regional meetings in Europe North and Europe South establish a Commission to organize a Colloquium on ‘A Redemptorist contribution to the new evangelization of Europe’.
We suggest that this Colloquium take place in 2007.
Keeping in mind – among many considerations:
– the possibilities that shrines and places of pilgrimage offer Redemptorists in this respect.
– the broad swathes of religious, cultural and economic poverty in the very heart of Europe (in such places, for example, as zones of eastern Germany and the Czech Republic): the particular Redemptorist sensitivity to the most abandoned has a central consideration).
We recognize the difficulty of organizing such a Colloquium. There is a danger that it would be merely a facile ‘talk-shop’, lacking realism. It will take considerable ingenuity to avoid this danger. Nonetheless, despite the possible pitfalls, we believe that it is a necessary risk.
- We propose the development of a new, coherent Redemptorist mission to migrant people across Europe, especially the migrants who are Catholic.
It is obvious that such a mission would have to be undertaken in collaboration with lay co-workers, and in collaboration with other religious congregations. It is obvious too that such a coherent mission across Europe will require the (V) Provinces to find new ways of working together. This will require working with provinces of other Regions
- We propose that the (V) Provinces of Europe set up an international network which is dedicated to youth ministry.
- We propose that the two Regions remain in place for now.
The reason is that the two-Region structure does produce some fruit at present. In South Europe it helps first formation and, to an extent, on-going formation. In North Europe it creates helpful bonds between (V) Provinces which were separated or isolated from one another in recent history.
However, there are other important functions and other important organizational needs, which are not well served by the present two-Region structure. A new, coherent vision for Redemptorist mission in Europe is lacking. We think that the Provinces of these Regions will have to find new ways of working together, across the Regions – perhaps, emerging eventually as one Region. We seek your advice in this regard.
The confreres of the Region of Asia-Oceania work in an area of great cultural diversity, geographical extent and immense human populations. The Commission recognizes the diversity and complexity of the reality of Asia-Oceania. Such complexity presents certain challenges and difficulties when it comes to reorganizing or restructuring. In recent years, in order to facilitate greater communication and interaction, the Region was divided into four (4) sub-Regions. These sub-Regions have had some limited success in enabling greater collaboration between Units of the Congregation within the Region. However, the Commission strongly believes that reorganization within this Region would be better facilitated by the Units of the Region working together rather than at the level of sub-Regions. It is our belief that this would result in a clearer sense of our mission as Redemptorists in Asia-Oceania today as well as avoid the danger of any particular Unit of the Congregation feeling isolated or without support. Such reorganization would also facilitate greater collaboration and solidarity within the Region, sharing of ideas and strategies for evangelization and enable the Region to look beyond its own boundaries.
The Commission proposes the following:
- That the present Region of Asia-Oceania be reconstituted into the Conference of Redemptorists of Asia-Oceania. All Units of the present Region will become part of the Conference, the major superiors will meet annually to monitor, reflect on, discuss and make decisions regarding Redemptorist Apostolic Life within the Conference. The internal governance and decision-making authority of the Conference needs further reflection and discussion. In this we seek your advice.
1.1 There are specific needs within the Conference that need to be addressed, for example, initial formation, new pastoral initiatives, finance and the possibility of responding to requests for new foundations in countries where we do not already have a presence. The Commission proposes that within the Conference a “Federation” between particular Units be established in order to respond more effectively to these needs. An example of such a Federation would be the present arrangement between Cebu, Manila,Bangkok, Ipoh and Canberra regarding initial formation and between Ipoh, Indonesia and Cebu in relation to the mission in Borneo. Again, further reflection on the decision-making authority of such Federations is needed. Likewise, we seek your advice in this matter.
1.2 There are specific challenges to preaching the Gospel in some countries in the Region whose cultures are quite secularized and consumerist, such as Australia, Japan and New Zealand. The Commission proposes that a “network” be established wherein confreres from these Units meet and interact with confreres from other Regions who live and minister in similar situations, for instance, confreres in South Africa, London, Dublin, and the North American Region. A similar network could be established, for example, to examine the question of how best to respond to the pastoral needs of indigenous people.
- In line with Guiding Principle #5 above (p. 6), the Commission requests that the Regional Meeting of July 2006 establish a Commission to organize a Colloquium on “The Redemptorist Mission in Asia-Oceania in the twenty-first Century” to facilitate the discernment of the Units of the Region on how to respond best to the pastoral needs of the people of this region and devise strategies that would facilitate such response, always keeping in mind the mandate to preach the Gospel to the poor and most abandoned.
2.1 The Colloquium will also give due recognition and importance to the Shrines of Baclaran andSingapore with a view to making concrete decisions about how to strengthen and renew Redemptorist presence and commitment to this important aspect of our tradition and these two places of mission in Asia-Oceania. It is hoped that eventually there will be a Commission established at the Congregational level to facilitate development of our Shrines at the global level.
We recognize the difficulty of organizing such a Colloquium. There is a danger that it would be merely a facile “talk-shop”, lacking realism. It will take considerable ingenuity to avoid these dangers. Nonetheless, despite the possible pitfalls, we believe that it is a necessary risk.
- Theological reflection on pastoral experience at “the cutting edge” is a vital component of our Alphonsian heritage. In Asia-Oceania confreres are constantly confronted with dehumanizing poverty, religious fundamentalism, militant nationalism, the denial of human rights and the destruction of the earth’s environment. In Asia-Oceania, too, the dialogue of Christianity with other religions is a central preoccupation.
We propose the establishment in Asia-Oceania of a center for theological reflection on issues that are crucial for missiology today, in particular the dialogue with culture, religions and the poor. This center, though based in Asia-Oceania, should be considered a project of the whole Congregation and a resource for the whole Congregation. This should be reflected in the allocation of resources and personnel.
What we, in the Congregation, call the North American Region has diversity and a complexity of which we must not lose sight. It brings together, for instance, (V) Provinces in the US andCanada. The Province of Yorkton expresses the reality of a distinctive Church. There are communities of Brazilian confreres and Polish confreres in the service of distinctive needs, and also the confreres of the Extra Patriam Vice-Province. A good plan for future restructuring must not overlook this diversity.
The (V) Provinces of the North American Region have undertaken major restructuring in recent years, the restructuring of (V) Provinces, formation institutes and ministries. The restructuring has been in response to a very dramatic reduction in numbers of confreres available, but it has also, felix culpa, been an occasion for new initiatives in ministry and much effective co-working, for instance, in formation.
Major efforts have been directed towards a restructuring within Provinces or in the creating of a union of Provinces. It has required great energy and inevitably much effort has been given to new internal arrangements.
- We propose that the (V) Provinces of the Region organize a Colloquium on ‘The Redemptorist mission in contemporaryNorth America: a search for a shared vision’.
Keeping mind – among very many considerations:
- the diversity of the ‘Region’;
- Redemptorist sensitivity to the un-churched should be a central consideration and the relevance to new movements of evangelization;
- The challenge of preaching the Gospel in secularized and consumerist cultures.
We recognize the danger that that such a Colloquium might be merely a facile ‘talk-shop’, lacking realism, and that it will take considerable ingenuity to avoid this danger and we acknowledge that this will require a lot of energy which is not always easy to muster. Nonetheless, despite the possible pitfalls, we put this forward for consideration, in the belief that it may be a necessary risk.
- Restructuring into the future should be supportive of the diversity in the Region as well as supportive of the co-working of all at the Regional level.
Might it be that, in some instances – for some groups of (V) Provinces – co-working in the suggested model of ‘federation’ would be beneficial?
This would go along with, and not distract from the benefits of co-working at Regional level, (as a Regional ‘Conference’) which has been well developed in the Region in recent years.
- North America is a major center for the movement of immigrant peoples, many of them Catholic.
We propose the establishment of a North American Commission to develop further the Redemptorist mission to migrants across North America.
It is likely that this will entail working in partnership with (V) Provinces from other Regions and it is obvious that such a mission would have to be undertaken in collaboration with lay co-workers and in collaboration with other religious congregations. There are also links to be made with Redemptorist ministry to migrants in other Regions.
One part of the work of this ministry is the encouragement of vocations among the immigrant populations
- Provinces in North America have a long tradition of offering support towards the development of other Provinces, especially those in most need. A way to continue this tradition may be to consider working in alliance with other Provinces in particular ventures.
In the section on Africa it is proposed that Provinces with responsibility for projects in this Region – or Provinces wishing to express care and support of the Region – work together as an Alliance or Network. The network would be a vehicle for development, support and care for the Redemptorist mission in Africa, and a forum for reciprocal learning and mutual enrichment.
- We propose that the decision to establish a new international community engaged in the apostolate at the Shrine of Ste-Anne de Beaupré be supported.
- Confreres of the Extra Patriam Vice-Province serve distinct pastoral needs, but there are dangers of isolation. We propose that the leadership of the Extra Patriam Vice-Provinceinvite confreres from other (V) Provinces of the Region to visit, and to learn more of their ministry and reality. Some joint venture of mutual benefit should be explored.
LATIN AMERICA AND THE CARIBBEAN
About one third of the confreres live in this Region. Its development is particularly significant; its structures for effective mission particularly important.
The Region of Latin America and the Caribbean does not work much at the level of Regional meetings. It is at the level of the three sub-regions that there is effective effort at organizing together for formation and for mission across Provincial boundaries. These sub-regions are: the Union of Redemptorists of Brazil, (URB), the North Latin America and Caribbean Sub-region, and the Union of Redemptorists of South Latin America, (URSAL). In these sub-regions, effective co-working does take place, in first formation, in on-going formation of confreres and in an ability to respond to emergent needs in mission.
However there is also much that needs to be done. In each sub-region there are Units which are very weak and there are Units that find it difficult to work together (because of diverse mentalities or backgrounds). There are also difficulties making and implementing decisions for effective mission, at Regional and sub-regional level.
Restructuring into the future must take account of these challenges.
- To facilitate better decision making and implementation we suggest that, at sub-Region level, consideration be given to the Conference model.
At the Regional level we propose that the Coordinators of the Sub-Regions (or Conferences) form a permanent Commission tasked with the development of solidarity in Redemptorist missionary ventures, formation and finances.
The tasks of the Commission will include:
(1) discernment of new proposals for mission,
(2) development of solidarity across Provincial borders,
(3) openness to alliances for mission in other countries in favor of the poorest,
(4) and the restructuring issues that are proposed for the Region.
- There are instances of (V) Provinces who have already developed structures of partnership, somewhat along the lines of the proposed model of Federation. We suggest that this be developed further and used more widely, especially in support of (V) Provinces whose resources are fragile.
- We propose that each sub-region (or Conference) work out a common ‘Ratio’ for initial formation in the sub-Region.
The purpose is to help develop a common understanding of Redemptorist identity, which will be shared by all younger confreres in the Region, thereby, facilitating greater co-working across the boundaries of Provinces – as our mission will demand ever more in years ahead.
- The healthy continuation of the intellectual traditions of the Congregation world-wide will not be ensured without a serious contribution from confreres from this Region.
We propose that the Provinces of this Region give a priority to the training of suitable candidates with a view to carrying forward our intellectual and theological traditions.
The continent of Africa today is struggling to define its place within the world community. Likewise, the rest of the world is asking itself about Africa’s role and identity in the global scheme of things.
A parallel discussion seems to be taking place within the Church in general and our Congregation in particular. As Redemptorists we are sensitive to the fragility of our new and not-so-new foundations in this vast continent, characterized as it is by extreme poverty, war, displacement of peoples and disease, the most obvious and serious of which is HIV/AIDS. We affirm the courage and perseverance of our confreres who continue to proclaim plentiful redemption against all odds.
As the Commission for Restructuring we offer the following proposals for the African region, conscious that in some aspects the emphasis is on initial structuring rather than restructuring. We would not consider a ‘Conference’ for Africa at this stage.
- We propose the setting up of an international network of all Units already committed to the mission of the Congregation in Africa and others who may wish to make a future commitment to this continent.
We recommend a regular meeting of this network, with the aim of learning about challenges to mission in Africa, sharing questions of mutual concern and policy, sharing financial resources through the establishment of a Fund for Africa and being an instrument for the establishment of various structures and initiatives, some of which are spelled out in more detail below.
- Aligned to the network for Africa would be the establishment of a Permanent Commission for Africa.
A beginning has already been made with the establishment of a nucleus of four confreres: the General Consultor for the Region, the member of the Commission for Restructuring from Africa and the anglophone and franco-lusophone coordinators. This would be augmented by three members nominated by the network mentioned above.
The role of the Permanent Commission would be to facilitate meetings of the network, to set up and oversee the secretariat recommended in the following proposal and to oversee the administration of the “Fund for Africa”, in collaboration with the General Government and the General Secretariat for Finance.
- We propose the setting up of an Intra-African Secretariat for Inculturation, Missiology and Spirituality.
The Secretariat would fall under the auspices of the network described above. It would be motivated by the questions: What does it mean to be a Redemptorist inAfrica today? In what ways does the Gospel become incarnated in this continent’s multi-cultural reality?
While the Secretariat may require separate francophone, lusophone and anglophone components, we would encourage a combined effort as much as possible. Faithful to the mind of the universal Church in its synod document,Ecclesia in Africa, a Redemptorist focus on inculturation, missiology and spirituality would pool together the best of our theological reflection, our apostolic life and our collaboration in formation within Africa. At the same time we would recommend regular meetings with the similar Redemptorist institute in Asia on inter-religious dialogue. We would also encourage collaboration with other religious institutes in Africa.
- The structures for collaboration in initial formation already in place in Africa need to be consolidated. We encourage openness to potential resources which the Secretariat on Inculturation will in due course be able to offer. The same would apply to ongoing formation, such as common preparation for final vows.
Despite difficulties and diversity, we propose a commonratio formationis for all of Africa and a common policy on vocations, to be worked out by the various formation secretariats in collaboration with the Intra-African Secretariat on Inculturation, Missiology and Spirituality.
- We propose a general policy and terms of reference for funding initial formation within the African region to be worked out by the General Secretariat for Finance together with the relevant Units.
The initiative already taken by the General Secretariat for Finance in this regard, together with the financial support from the whole Congregation for initial formation in Africa, is to be welcomed.
- We envisage that all of the above would bear fruit in a new foundation in a country in Africa where the Congregation is not yet present.
We propose that such a new foundation would be international, and would respond to an urgent pastoral need in fidelity to the charism and mission of the Congregation. It would combine explicit proclamation of the Word with social or development projects, in collaboration with lay partners in mission.
In many ways this conclusion is open-ended, in the sense that it invites you to take the discussion forward. What we have presented for your consideration is simply a ‘work in progress’. It is not a final document. The next draft of a document on restructuring will only take shape after the mid-sexennial regional meetings when there will have been an opportunity to dialogue and debate what we have offered thus far.
Crucial to the process, therefore, is that we receive responses to the present draft. To this end, we provide a list of our email addresses. While all contributions will be welcomed, in practice we expect that most responses will come from the regional meetings where members of the Commission for Restructuring will be present.
Not addressed in the present draft, yet still part of our mandate, is the question of the composition of the General Chapter. This will be dealt with in our future meetings, especially in light of your feedback to the present discussion on the guiding principles, models for restructuring and our proposals for the Regions.
Juan Lasso de la Vega (Europe South)
Con Casey (Europe North)
Brendan Kelly (Asia-Oceania)
Ulysses da Silva (Latin America and Caribbean)
Guy Pilote (North America)
Larry Kaufmann (Africa)
 ‘(V) Provinces’ – when this term is used we mean to refer to, and to be inclusive of, all distinct Units of the Congregation: Provinces, Vice-Provinces, regions, missions.