(Weinstrasse, Germany) The first of the two Extraordinary Visits for the German-speaking Redemptorists took place in Neustadt a.d. Weinstrasse, Germany. There were 37 participants, 32 from the Province of St. Clemens (from Germany, The Netherlands and Switzerland) and 5 from the Province Vienna-Munich (from both Germany and Austria). So, including two Indonesian confreres working in the Province of St. Clemens, there were five nationalities present. Among them were ten associates and co-workers.
The visitors were Fr. Piotr Chyla from the institute for spirituality and member of the Conference Council and Fr. Alberto Eseverri from the general council. For Fr Eseverri it was his sixth visit, for Fr Chyla his third. That meant that with their experiences from previous visits they guided us efficiently through the program. All presentations were in English and the participants had the translated texts in German. If necessary, there was extra oral translation. This worked very well, because the Province of St. Clemens is used to dealing with different languages in their provincial gatherings.
From the introduction on Monday, it became clear that the congregation has great ambitions for the coming years, that the general government – supported by existing and new secretariats and committees – will have to roll up their sleeves and that ambitious plans will be expected from the units. And all this comes from the background of the missionary vision of the XXV General Chapter: In Solidarity for the Mission in a Wounded World.
The retreat day on Tuesday was very helpful to enter ‘personally’ into the subject of missionary priorities and restructuring.
After the presentation of all the 52 decisions of the General Chapter on Wednesday, Thursday was announced as the ‘day of truth’. Indeed, the conversation became even more concrete than it already was. The visitators presented the idea of the apostolic plan in Communicanda I and invited the participants to reflect on the priorities. The group discussions were confident, constructive and fruitful. This also applied to the conversation about the restructuring that took place in the afternoon.
All input from the last two days were summarized and presented back to the participants on Friday. The gathering rejected the proposal of the visitators to vote on missionary and apostolic priorities, because the list was not complete and some suggestions and opinions needed further discussion/clarification. Participants were invited to add to the current summary, that then will be improved and send to the conference commission for the pastoral and restructuring plan.
In the evaluation, appreciation was expressed for the fact that the ‘grassroots’ are so intensively involved in the process of the congregation. Participants also thanked each other for the effort they had taken to participate. The visitators praised the provinces for their courage and realism. They encouraged to continue on the road and to set an example and take the lead, also with the history of the creation of the Province of St. Clemens 13 years ago in mind. The provincial Jan Hafmans underlined the words of thanks. He observed that the basis of the province of St. Clemens supports the restructuring process. The final chord was a real thanksgiving (‘eucharist’) with an inspiring and hope-giving homily from Fr. Eseverri.
Jelle Wind & Eric Corsius