This year, 2016, has certainly been a momentous year in the history of the Congregation. We have celebrated the 150th Anniversary of the icon of Our Mother of Perpetual Help being restored to public veneration under the care of the Congregation. We have celebrated with joy, together with our sisters of the Order of the Most Holy Redeemer, the beatification of Blessed Maria Celeste Crostarosa. And, of course, we have been celebrating the 25th General Chapter.
Between January and May of this year, confreres have gathered in the five Conferences of the Congregation for the first phase of the General Chapter – a new development in the celebration of the General Chapter. Each Unit was represented not only by the major Superior but also with an elected vocal. The Brothers and our lay partners were also represented. During these meetings the current state of the Congregation was discussed with the help of Reports from the various institutions of the Congregation as well as a Working Document, based on the responses received from the Units of the Congregation in late 2015 (80% of the Units responded to the questionnaire provided). While acknowledging the good work being carried out by confreres throughout the world as they attempt to “preach the Gospel ever anew,” the Working Document also highlighted some of the major areas of concern we face as we undertake our mission of preaching plentiful redemption. Reflecting on all they had read and heard, the participants of the first phase meetings were encouraged to offer suggestions and proposals as to how we can best respond to these concerns. Each Conference, under the guidance of the Coordinator, also produced a Report on the current situation of the Conference as a preparation for the second phase of the General Chapter, the Canonical Phase.
Now we are ready for the second phase. This will take place at the Redemptorist Center in Pattaya, Thailand, from October 31 to November 25, 2016. This is only the third time that the Canonical Chapter will take place outside of Italy. We are grateful to the confreres of the Province of Thailand for agreeing to host this important event in the life of the Congregation. If you visit the section of the website dedicated to the General Chapter you can find out more about the location of the Chapter as well as information about the variety of social projects undertaken by the Redemptorist Center of Pattaya as they endeavor to respond to the needs of the poor and most abandoned.
In the coming weeks, as members of the Congregation, we are encouraged to turn our attention to the work of the Canonical Phase of the Chapter. Our Constitutions consistently remind us of our co-responsibility for the mission of the Congregation (in particular, Cons. 73; 92; 98).For this reason, it is very important that all of us, not just the Chapter participants, engage actively in the Chapter process. Through such engagement we exercise our co-responsibility but we also deepen our awareness of the mission of the Congregation worldwide. This can only lead to a deeper commitment on the part of each of us to the mission.
In the light of this, we draw your attention to the General Chapter section of the website. Here you will find the various documents that will guide the proceedings of the Canonical Phase of the Chapter in Thailand. The Conference Reports make very interesting reading – here we see many of the developments that have taken place in the Congregation in the last six years, particularly in the light of our current efforts at restructuring for mission. The Working Document is a very comprehensive document. Many of you will be familiar with Parts A and B which present clearly the current situation of the Congregation and the challenges we face. Part C, the latest addition to the Working Document, offers some concrete proposals as to how we can respond to those challenges. No doubt the participants of the Canonical Phase will be giving particular attention to this section of the Working Document, as they prepare to take concrete decisions which will shape the future of the Congregation. Taking time to familiarize yourself with this document will be a very worthwhile exercise and, keeping in mind our call to co-responsibility, be sure to offer your own insights and suggestions to those who will represent you in Thailand!
As the Canonical Phase draws near, and during the actual proceeding, the website will be updated to ensure that confreres are kept fully informed of developments. This section of the website is password protected. However, the superior of your Unit will ensure that the password will be given to you/the community.
Truly, this is a momentous year for us. As we move forward we continue to place ourselves under the care of Mary, Our Mother of Perpetual Help and to seek the intercession of St. Alphonsus and all our Saints, Blessed, and Martyrs. We pray that the spirit of the Most Holy Redeemer will continue to inspire us to greater faithfulness to the mission he has entrusted to us.
Fr. Brendan Kelly, CSsR