Dear confreres, religious, nuns, students in formation, lay collaborators, and friends who accompany us in the mission of abundant Redemption.
Gathered in the first phase of the XXVI General Chapter of the Congregation in Aparecida – Brazil, in this time of great Easter joy, we want to bring to all of you this message from the members of the assembly: Since Jesus is risen, there is hope! We are no longer under the dominion of sin, of evil! Love has won, always wins! Even if, at times, we live on the threshold of faith, still afflicted by the Covid-19 pandemic, the impoverishment of our people, and the terrible war in Ukraine that has taken the life and hope of many people. Like the women who went to the tomb early in the morning to visit the Lord and found the tomb empty (cf. Lk 24: 4), we too wonder about the meaning of this event. The hope brought by the resurrection makes us understand that God’s love is stronger than evil and even death itself. In other words, God’s love can transform everything, including our life. Therefore, let’s rejoice! The Lord has opened new hope for us, we have a future!
These days that we have spent together have been a profound time of the presence of the risen Lord, which has allowed us to evaluate, recognize and illuminate the whole path we have travelled and lived for a long time as a Congregation. In this way, we are left with the challenge of reaffirming our commitment to the restructuring and reconfiguration of the Congregation in Latin America and the Caribbean, because we understand that this process is “a call of the Spirit to a new way of being Redemptorists, the charism is a force creative and always finds new ways of manifesting itself, according to the response we give to God and to the needs of our recipients “(see Report of the Conference Coordinator).
Therefore, to discern is precisely to distinguish what is fundamental from what is secondary at a given moment, and in this way to make the most appropriate decisions and choices to face a particular challenge or situation. It is under this premise that the Conference of Latin America and the Caribbean, in the first phase of the XXVI General Chapter, studied, analyzed, and socialized in-depth the different situations presented as a result of the work carried out in the (Vice) Provinces, with the communities, who had previously held their meetings to ultimately contribute to their respective conclusions.
In fact, this discernment made it possible to make visible the positive aspects, the signs of hope, the dreams, the resources, but also the difficulties, the delays, and the challenges, concerning the fundamental choices that the Congregation must make for the future, from the restructuring and reconfiguration process.
In each of the working sessions, the 60 participants reflected on the commitment to evangelize the recipients, especially the poorest, and we regret the absence of the representative of the Cuban Mission, due to the political situation in the country.
In fact, the apostolic passion of St. Alphonsus and the Redemptorist is immediately expressed in the ability to understand the urgency of evangelization and the ways of acting so that the gift of Jesus Christ and his Gospel may reach everyone. In our evangelizing action, we transmit our apostolic passion also to the laity, to the families who are part of our Mission, and above all to the poorest; to them in particular we have the courage to propose the Redemptorist life, following the example of Alphonsus, not as a possibility of personal fulfillment among others, but as a gift and a call from God.
Let us also reflect on the need to make ourselves available to leave everything that prevents us from going where the most felt needs of the poor are: the new frontiers of the Redemptorist mission. The most urgent needs of the poor are their material poverty, but also their emotional, cultural, and spiritual needs, which call us to a radical availability, a restructuring from within, and to leave everything else aside.
As participants in the first phase of the XXVI General Chapter, our fundamental aim was to rekindle in the heart of each one of us the apostolic passion and being a Redemptorist, starting from a Congregation rethought and re-imagined for the Mission, proposing, in addition, a profile characterized by a charismatic identity; in this way, we are called to be St. Alphonsus for the poor of today, to have an intense and profound spiritual life, to live fraternal life in familiarity and joy, to be with the poor, to be bold in our evangelizing action, to go to the frontier places of our mission, to live poorly, to involve the laity, young people and families who are part of our Mission, to propose to our recipients the Redemptorist life as a prophetic option.
We perceive that it is the Spirit of Christ who animates and vivifies, a gift of the Risen One for our Congregation. He has poured out the abundance of his gifts upon us all as a new Pentecost. He opens the minds of all gathered and enlivens our hearts; he inflames them with a renewed passion that will bear abundant fruits for the Redemption of the wounded world.
We are grateful to the Province of São Paulo for the welcome, logistics, and hospitality during the days of the assembly.
We entrust ourselves to Mary, Our Lady of Aparecida and – Mother of Perpetual Help – who with her maternal intercession contributed to the salvation of the poorest. She is our Mother and Teacher. From her, we learn docility to the Holy Spirit and the depth of the spiritual life, which is the root of the fruitfulness of our mission. We recommend to her the challenges of evangelization, vocations to consecrated and lay Redemptorist life, the option for the poor, and above all this historical moment of the Congregation, such as the process of restructuring and reconfiguration.