Solemnity of the lmmaculate Conception, 2016
Patroness of the Congregation
WITNESSES OF THE REDEEMER:
IN SOLIARITY FOR MISSION TO A WOUNDED WORLD
Dear Confreres, Sisters, lay Associates and Friends,
Greetings from Rome as we celebrate the lmmaculate Conception of Mary, our patroness. On November 24, we celebrated the closing Mass of the Canonical Phase of the XXV General Chapter in Pattaya, Thailand, bringing to a close the four weeks of intense prayer, discernment and decision-making which the Capitulars lived together in a spirit of fraternal solidarity with the whole Congregation and the Redemptorist Family.
This spirit of communion among the participants in the Chapter was strengthened by the common prayers twice a day, by the meaningful Eucharists and other Liturgies. The arrangement of the Aula seating and the work in small groups also encouraged greater participation by the delegates.
Many of you were able to follow the Chapter more closely than ever before through the daily news updates, the ‘live-streaming’, and communications from the delegates of your Unit taking part. As well, those of us in Pattaya felt the support of your prayers, messages and interest. Thank you for your participation in the process of the Chapter.
The newly-elected Generai Government will gather in Rome in mid-January to begin their service to the Congregation. At that time, we will prepare and publish the documents of the Canonical Phase, including the message, decisions and other orientations. Many of these have already been communicated to you unofficially, and we encourage you to read, study and discuss them as we prepare for the Third Phase of the Generai Chapter, which will be held in the Conferences in the period from May to October, 2017.
Among the most important decisions taken by the General Chapter were the decisions to continue with the process of restructuring the Congregation with all its implications, and to continue with the Conferences as an instrument of this restructuring. These decisions were prompted by our commitment to renew our Mission and to revitalize our Apostolic Life by strengthening the bonds of worldwide solidarity and listening attentively to the cry of our wounded world.
The Chapter passed a considerable number of decisions- almost 60 in total – and these touched on many dimensions of our Apostolic Life, including missionary work, apostolic community life, initial and ongoing formation, brothers and lay partners, government and economic questions. The General Government will work to provide a plan and framework for their implementation to be presented at the Third Phase of the General Chapter. lt is important to remember that the Capitulars took very seriously the preparation, concerns and suggestions which came from the local communities across the Congregation and which were integrated into the working document. These decisions came from your preparation! Together, let us work to implement them wisely and well.
Highlights of the Canonical Phase of the General Chapter include the retreat led by Cardinal Tagle, the participation and presentations of five Lay Associates, the presence and contributions of seven Brothers, and the rich discussion which flowed from the well-prepared working document. These experiences greatly influenced the decisions taken. We need to continue this process of dialogue and partnership.
Celebrating the Canonical Phase of the General Chapter at the Redemptorist Centre in Pattaya was also a great blessing for us. For many of the participants, this was their first experience of Asia. Every day, we were engaged with the women and men, children and young adults, who are part of this unique community and who serve one another in a spirit of openness and respect. lt affected our discussions about the world in which we live and to which we are sent as we encountered every day the young and the disabled, the abandoned and those who care for them. We are especially grateful to the Province of Thailand for this extraordinary welcome and opportunity.
As you can imagine, the General Chapter is hard work! We experienced moments of tension and conflict, of misunderstanding and struggle. lt was perhaps in those moments that we experienced most acutely the power and grace of the Holy Spirit who guided us throughout these weeks. We gathered in the name of Jesus the Redeemer, and we knew that we were accompanied by Mary, our Perpetuai Help, and Alphonsus, our founder. May they continue to accompany us in our vocation as Witnesses of the Redeemer: in Solidarity for Mission to a wounded world!
During this Advent Season, together with Mary lmmaculate, we wait in joyful hope with the whole Church for the coming of our Redeemer, God-with-us.
Wishing you peace, joy and hope for Christmas and always,
Your brother in the Redeemer,
Michael Brehl, C.Ss.R.