(Rome) The annual Assembly of the Conference of Europe took place from 5th to 8th October 2020. Originally it was planned that the meeting of the representatives of the European CSsR provinces should take place in Albania in order to offer the opportunity to get to know better the common mission of the European Redemptorists there as well as the situation of society and church in one of the poorest countries in Europe. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, this could not be realized, and the meeting took place as a video conference.
This change also meant that only a shorter agenda could be dealt with. The focus of the meeting was information and consultation about the implementation of the Apostolic and Restructuring Plan in Europe. A year ago, this plan with Missionary and Apostolic Priorities was approved. The moderators of the three working groups from Southern Europe, Northern Europe, and Eastern Europe reported on the progress made in the implementation process. In addition, reports on the common pastoral projects of the Redemptorists in Europe were presented: the mission in Albania, the project of welcoming pilgrims on the Camino de Santiago, the plans for the European meeting of Redemptorist Youth Ministry, and the mission in Lithuania. Further reports on formation followed.
In these reports, as well as in the exchange about the situation in the individual provinces, it became clear how severely our pastoral care was also restricted by the Covid-19 pandemic. Several international meetings were originally planned in the various fields of our ministry; none of them could take place due to the changed situation. In response to this situation, however, there were also new initiatives, such as an on-line workshop designed by the working group on Partnership in Mission, which will now start in October and extend over a period of several months. The new Directory for Partnership in Mission was put into effect ad experimentum by the General Management a few months ago; the workshop will contribute to its implementation in Europe.
Pope Francis made a special contribution to the Assembly of the Conference of the Redemptorists in Europe. His most recent encyclical “Fratelli tutti” was presented by Fr. Andrzej Wodka (only three days after its publication) on one of the mornings: reflections that will certainly continue to inspire.
In addition to the content-related issues, it was also important that we once again got together in a joint meeting in the Conference of Europe. Of course, a video conference has its limits, and many of the participants missed the personal encounters and the conversations that otherwise take place on the sidelines of our annual meeting. But precisely because many of the scheduled meetings could not take place in the current year, it was important to maintain contact with each other in this way. The participants expressly appreciated that.
Fr. Johannes Römelt C.Ss.R.