The third week of the XXVI General Chapter has been an important week for all the Chapter members as well as for the entire Congregation for a variety of reasons. The new General Government of the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer was elected. First of all, there was the election of the new Superior General, Fr. Rogério Gomes, CSsR, and then the election of the General Consultors. At the same time, the capitulars studied the postulata (proposals) presented to the Chapter, gave their opinion, and also presented suggestions and proposals on what the Chapter should propose for the Congregation and began to vote on these postulata.
The week began on Monday, soon after the morning prayer, with a prayer of discernment invoking the light of the Holy Spirit so that the will of God might be revealed in the process of election. Then the groups gathered to reflect on the qualities or the profile expected of the Superior General. There was a lively discussion among members on the profile of a Superior General such as a man of God (or spirituality), prophetism, discernment (or openness to dialogue, listening), missionary spirit, hope (or animation, dynamism, creativity) were highlighted. Then the captiulars gathered for an indicative ballot followed by discussion on the names that surfaced. Following this there was the first ballot and after two ballots, no candidate reached the two-thirds majority required for the post. Fr Rogério Gomes, of the Latin American and Caribbean Conference, São Paulo Province, Brazil, was elected Superior General with 72 votes out of 91 votes on the third ballot on Tuesday morning. His election was applauded at length by the assembly and celebrated in the chapel of the Chapter with a joyful Te Deum, during which Fr Rogério made his profession of faith and took the oath of office and gave us his first message as Superior General to the Congregation emphasising that we need not have fear but we launch out ahead into the future with hope.
In the following days, the six General Consultors were elected. Each of the five Conferences presented the names of three confreres, in order of preference, to run for the post of Consultors. In the indicative vote each member was asked to write on the given ballot paper five names of his preference. On the first ballot, five Consultors were elected with an absolute majority of votes: Brother Larry Lujan, Conference of North America, and Fathers Francisco Stanula from Europe, Jairo Díaz from Latin America and the Caribbean, Ivel Mendanha from Asia-Oceania and Nicolas Ayouba from Africa-Madagascar. The sixth General Consultor, Father Paul Vinh, of the Asia-Oceania Conference, was elected after a process of discernment where the capitulars could elect any candidate from any of the Confreres of any Conference. The Vicar General is elected from among the six Consultors, for whose election a two-thirds majority of votes is required and no candidate has succeeded so far after the seven ballots already taken.
On Friday morning, Brother Larry Lujan arrived from the United States of America, having been elected General Consultor without being present at the Chapter. Voting also began on the postulata on the themes of Redemptorist Identity and Redemptorist Mission. This task was made relatively easy by the fact that the postulata had already been studied, discussed, and voted previously in the groups, and now, in the plenary voting, the capitulars have the support of a technical apparatus that collects and counts the votes in real-time. The capitulars also decided unanimously to have a Final Message to the entire Congregation from the Chapter and a Theme for the next sexennium.
Today, Saturday the Capitulars went to the Vatican for an audience with Pope Francis. This was very special as the audience was held in the Pope Clement VIII hall. The Holy Father arrived to a rousing applause and then Fr General addressed him on behalf of the entire Redemptorist family. He also presented the Holy Father with a two volume work on Moral Theology by Fr Marciano Vidal, C.Ss.R.. The Holy putting aside his prepared address to the capitulars chose to speak from his heart. He emphasised the need for us as Redemptorist Missionaries to leave our “Comfort Zones” and launch out into the deep in closeness to the poor. He further went to explain the various types of “comfort zones” that can entrap us and called us to give all for the mission. He also thanked the Congregation for our contribution to Moral Theology and praised the Alphonsian Academy for it amazing role in Moral theology. He asked us Redemptorists to keep working in the field of Moral theology to make a contribution to society and the Church especially in forming conscience of people. He finally posed for a photograph with the entire group and then shook hands with each of the Redemptorists present. It was a memorable day for all. Tomorrow, Sunday the capitulars leave for Pagani for a celebration in the Basilica of St. Alphonsus Liguori, our Founder. Do keep us in your prayers as we are near the end of the XXVI General Chapter.
Joseph Ivel Mendanha, C.Ss.R.