The second day of the Chapter began with morning prayer led by the Province of Denver. As it was All Saints day, we had a litany of the Saints done with PowerPoint and ending with a variety of icons of Our Blessed Lady.
At the beginning of the first session Fr. General reminded us that this is the anniversary of the year in 1866 when Pope Pius IX entrusted the icon of our Mother of Perpetual Help to the Redemptorists, and is also the date of our first foreign mission. 150 years ago today Blessed Peter Donders became a novice in the country of Surinam.
Fr. General then presented his report in two parts.
The first presentation contained a statistical overview. Although the number of professed confreres has gone down slightly since the last General Chapter, we are now ministering in more than 80 countries.
Fr. General spoke about the restructured Units where groups have come together. He also reminded us of the Seven Principles of Restructuring.
He then gave details about the Year of Mercy, the Jubilee of OLPH, about the Beatifications, the natural disasters as well as the mass movement of peoples, especially migrants and refugees.
After a brief break the main body of the report was delivered.
Fr. General spoke about several contexts:
He began with the Ecclesial Context, highlighting the courageous resignation of Pope Benedict and the election of Pope Francis and the three Synods which have taken place.
Next the World Context:
He mentioned the ecological crisis, violence and terrorism, refugees and migrants, fundamentalism, natural disasters
Reminding us again of the 7 Principles of Restructuring and the importance of Restructuring being for mission, he stressed the centrality of the Mission of Christ the Redeemer. This is essential for this Chapter. It is not a business meeting.
The 7th Principle is very important….to commit ourselves as Chapter delegates to collaborate in a spirit of co-responsibility. We must communicate with the whole Congregation our desire for the direction of this Chapter.
Mission and Renewal of our missionary priorities.
Missionary priorities are not a list of what we do. Our priorities indicate first of all the people to whom we are sent and the message God gave us to share.
Therefore we must collaborate with others and consider new missionary forms and -indeed to seek them out. The process of restructuring is always at the service of mission.
Conferences and Units
We have too many Units in the Congregation. We should half the number of Provinces. The province structure is still the most affective. We get caught up in administration and self preservation. The Conference is a transitional structures to get us to where we need to go. When we arrive at 35 Units then a Conference of major superiors will be effective.
Apostolic community and consecrated life.
It is an essential a law of our life that we live and work and minister from community.
The last Chapter mandated a plan of community life for each community in the world. However two concerns remain: a lack of common understanding of what an apostolic community means. We also need structures for a sacred space for dialogue and we also need to rethink our life together in terms of the Constitutions.
Ronald J. McAinsh, C.SS.R.