Summary of the 2nd Week of the XXVI General Chapter

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The 2nd week of the General chapter took up the important themes of Redemptorist Identity, Redemptorist Mission, Redemptorist Consecrated Life, Redemptorist Formation for Mission and Redemptorist Leadership for Mission. On Monday morning each capitular was given a text with a couple of questions for personal reflection and then group sharing with the aim of reimagining Redemptorist Identity in a changing world. After sharing in twos and personal time for reflection and prayer there was a lively sharing in each of the language groups. In the afternoon, the groups reported on their sharing and then there was an open session for further sharing. The capitulars concluded that Const. # 20 formed the core of our Redemptorist Identity with each Redemptorist seeking to constantly root his identity in Jesus our Redeemer in a personal relationship with the Lord and then experience the Redeemer’s sending out to the poor and the most abandoned Const. # 1. The second part of the afternoon was devoted to the presentation of the Report of the Conference of Africa and Madagascar. The Conference has as its missionary priorities the Poor and marginalised, victims of superstitions, fear and witchcraft, migrants and victims of human trafficking, youth, children and single mothers. The conference is made up of 10 units with the plan of reconfiguration into two provinces (province of North West Africa and the province of Central, East and South Africa with Madagascar). The Conference Coordinator Noel with Lady Judith answered questions regarding the challenges and the plans for the Conference for the future as well as partnership in mission.

The Second day focused on Redemptorist Mission. A Panel of confreres: Jose Nazarin Ramos from Mexico, Willy Pala from Indonesia, Bohumir Zivcak a lay partner from Slovakia and Patrice from Burkina Faso shared about their personal experience of mission and its impact on their life as Redemptorists. After a time of personal prayer and reflection, there was group sharing on the text and questions given regarding mission and its challenge. The afternoon session was for group reporting and an open session for sharing. Some of the points that emerged were regarding creativity and flexibility in mission, closeness to people, especially the poor, the need for a strong community life that supports the mission, the importance of discernment in prioritizing the mission, the necessity of learning from and listening to the ones we are sent out to and work for and with, partnership in mission is fundamental and not an option anymore, and finally team work is the trademark of Redemptorist life and mission. The second part of the afternoon was devoted to the presentation of the Report from the Conference of Asia Oceania. The Conference has as its missionary priorities Migrant peoples, the materially poor, indigenous peoples, families in distress and abandoned youth. The Conference has 13 units and will follow a plan of reconfiguration into 3 Confederations 1) Confederation of India consisting of Bangalore, Liguori and Majella, 2) Confederation of Vietnam, Thailand and South Korea, and Cebu, and 3) Confederation of Oceania, Manila, and Singapore, Sri Lanka and Indonesia with Japan. The Conference Coordinator Jovencio Ma with Rosanna the lay partner for mission answered questions regarding Redemptorist life and mission in the Conference. 

The Third day began with Mass celebrated by the Superior General Fr Michael Brehl for the feast of St. Mathew, and the whole community of the chapter prayed for all the confreres and lay partners who died to covid-19 over the months of the pandemic. Each confrere received a text on Redemptorist Consecrated life with questions for both personal reflection and group sharing. The after-noon reporting focused on the importance of our Apostolic life rooted in the Lord Jesus and our life in community which is at the service of the mission acknowledging the challenges of living our consecrated life and the tension between living as consecrated persons and living our consecration more with a clerical mindset. There was a strong call to follow seriously the Redemptorist Plan for community life with regular evaluation as an instrument to grow joyfully in our consecrated life. Many important suggestions came to the fore which could feature in the final message from the Chapter for example giving Hope to our senior and sick confreres. ‘Distacco’ an Alphonsian word has emerged as the important element for living our consecrated life. The second part of the afternoon focused on the reports of the two conferences of Latin America and the Caribbean and North America. The Conference of Latin America and the Caribbean has 26 units at present and the reconfiguration plan will see the Conference having 7 provinces. These are: 1) Fortaleza, Recife and Goias, 2) Bahia, Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paolo, Suriname, 3) Manaus, Campo Grande and Porto Alegre, 4) Buenos Aires, Paraguay, Resistencia, Chile and Uruguay 5) Bolivia, Peru South and Peru North, 6) Bogota, Quito, Caracas and 7) America Central, San Juan, Haiti, and the Mission to Cuba. This is a very courageous plan with challenges but the Conference seeks to move forward with this plan as it seeks to carry out its mission to the materially poor, the indigenous people and migrants, the abandoned youth, families and those who have lost their faith or do not practice anymore. Marcelo the Conference Coordinator with Vanda Maria de Lima answered questions regarding the challenges of the Conference. The Conference of North America presented its Report with its missionary priorities as the migrants, immigrants, refuges and indigenous people, youth and young adults and those who do not hear the Gospel as Good News. The Conference seeks to reconfigure into the following Units of Canada, Confederation of Baltimore, Denver and Mexico with Extra Patriam. The Conference Coordinator Jack Kingsbury along with Anne Walsh the Lay Partner for mission answered questions regarding the life and mission of the Conference, underlining the work of the lay partners for mission. 

The fourth day focused on the reflection on Redemptorist Formation. After a personal reflection with sharing in twos the chapter met in the various groups for reflection on the text given and questions regarding the way forward with formation for mission. The afternoon reflection focused on the importance of Ongoing Formation with various suggestions offered for strengthening Redemptorist Identity, mission and Consecrated life in formal moments of Ongoing Formation for both Redemptorists and lay partners for mission. The importance of selection of formators, training of formators, the necessary values to be stressed in a changing world like accountability, transparency etc were stressed together with the importance of formation for intercultural communities. The second part of the afternoon was devoted to the report from the Conference of Europe where there are 12 provinces, 1 V Province and 1 mission. The future will see 1 Province of Europe South (Portugal, Spain, Rome, Naples and France), the Federation of Europe North (St Clements, London, Dublin, Munich Vienna) and the Confederation of Eastern Europe (Warsaw, Bratislava Prague, Michalovce and Ukraine). The Conference has as its missionary priorities the following: the spiritually abandoned, the young people, migrants and refuges and those who have lost their faith. The Conference Coordinator Johannes together with Bohumir the lay partner for mission answered questions regarding mission and life in the Conference. The special moment of the day was the evening where the Brazilian confreres prepared a BBQ night which turned out to be a wonderful time for relaxing and sharing and celebrating our life as a community. 

On the fifth day of the week the chapter took up the theme of Leadership for Mission. The session began with a sharing of personal experience of leadership and the challenges of being Major Superiors today from 5 confreres: Jan Hoffman from St. Clements, Cesar Torres from Peru South, Benjamin from Zimbabwe, Biju M from Liguori, and Steve Rehrauer. The Confreres and lay partners then reflected in twos on the text given and on question what would the chapter want to offer as a new vision for Leadership for Mission in the Congregation. The afternoon session had the reports from the groups with various points on leadership emerging and the need for Ongoing formation for new leaders. The Procurator General Fr Jose Carlos shared about the challenges with regard to laicisation and confreres living in irregular situations and the need for careful attention to these cases. The second part of the afternoon was devoted to the sharing from the 5 Lay Partners for mission: Anne Walsh from Canada, Rosanna from Manila, Vanda Maria from Fortaleza, Lady Judith from Nigeria, and Bohumir from Slovakia. They spoke about their experience of participating in the General Chapter during this week. Expressing the great honour and priceless gift and privilege of being present at the General Chapter. They offered very honest and sincere sharing with some challenging suggestions to pay attention to the danger of clericalism and the reality of our baptismal call to mission and the role of the laity as disciples in following the Lord in mission, the importance of formation of our lay partners as well as formation of confreres to be open to work and accompany our lay partners, the importance of values of accountability, availability, leadership for lay partners. They expressed the fear that most of what we discuss here might end up merely on paper and not put into practice. At the same time, they stressed the importance of Hope for all of us here at the chapter. They stressed the value of us Redemptorists offering a new way of being Church by empowering our lay partners, of working to train the next generation of young lay partners. The capitulars then asked questions and clarifications from the Lay partners which they responded to sincerely and joyfully. Finally, Fr General thanked the five lay partners for being with us and he expressed that we capitulars feel humbled and privileged with their presence among us as we go hand in hand living and working for the same mission of proclaiming the Kingdom of God. Then entire chapter gave the panel a standing ovation.

The week ended with Fr Kevin O’Neil, the Secretary of the Moderators, presenting the plan going forward for the next week ahead of the General Chapter.

Joseph Ivel Mendanha, C.Ss.R.

See photo galleries from the General Chapter.

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