On Thursday, 19th October 2023, Fr Rogério Gomes, the Superior General and the entire General Council held an online meeting to animate the local superiors of the English-speaking confreres across the Congregation. The next day, 20th October, in a similar way, the General Council met Spanish-speaking confreres. To facilitate the confreres’ possibly widest participation, the simultaneous interpretation was provided in several languages most spoken in the Congregation. Each of the meetings gathered more than 200 participants.
Thursday, 19th October: Meeting with English-speaking local superiors
The meeting opened with a welcome by Fr Paul Vinh, General Consultor and then a prayer session led by Bro Larry Lujan, General Consultor. Fr. Ivel Mendanha, General Consultor, gave a presentation on the Vision and Plan of the General Council for the sexennium, highlighting the General Chapter Decisions, the themes for each of the years of the sexennium and the various means and plans to be used to animate the Congregation using meetings, visitations, letters, and other structures to promote the Vita Apostolica of the Congregation.
Fr Rogério Gomes, Superior General then addressed the Superiors. While he thanked the Superiors for accepting this important service of animation in the Congregation, he emphasised the following points: The Need for each local superior to believe in his own consecration and consecrated life first; the importance of promoting a qualitative community life in the community, the need for the care of the confreres and partners in mission, the importance of Discernment in decision making; the resolving of conflicts in community; the importance of smooth communication; the use and administration of the good and resources of the community; the need for the ongoing formation of the members in the community; the importance of right behaviour, protection and safeguarding in the community; the animation of the confreres in the process of restructuring and reconfiguration. Fr. Rogério, in conclusion, called on the Superiors to exercise their role of animation with responsibility and to also take care of their own spiritual, physical, and emotional health and to seek help and professional assistance if needed.
Fr José Carlos Linhares Pontes, the Procurator General, then gave a 40 minute presentation of the canonical issues for Local Superiors to take note of, after which he responded to questions that were raised on matters pertaining to some aspects of community life.
The Online Meeting concluded with an exhortation from Fr Nicolas Ayouba, General Consultor and a blessing from Fr Rogério Gomes. There were a total of 174 who signed into the Zoom meeting, though some provinces (Baltimore, Denver, Warsaw) had all the superiors attending together.
Joseph Ivel Mendanha, C.SS.R.
Friday, 20th October: Meeting with Spanish-speaking local superiors
The meeting was opened and moderated by Fr Jairo Diaz, General Consultor and then a prayer session led by Bro Larry Lujan, General Consultor.
In the first part, Fr José Carlos Linhares Pontes, the Procurator General, took the floor to present the canonical issues for Local Superiors to take note of. He commented on vital aspects of community life, reciprocal responsibility among the confreres and the role of the leadership in the community. Fr José Carlos Father also explained the modalities of our pastoral presence within the diocesan structures from the point of view of the regulations of canon law. Several participants took the opportunity to share their comments and ask questions.
The floor was then taken by the Superior General, Fr. Rogério Gomes. He began by thanking the local superiors for their service to the communities and the Congregation. As on the previous day, he outlined the challenges faced by each local superior and encouraged them to continue to animate their confreres to active community life and zealous missionary work.
Later in the meeting, Fr. Zdzislaw Francis Stanula, General Consultor, presented the Vision and Plan of the General Council for the sexennium. He highlighted the General Chapter Decisions, the themes for the following years of the sexennium and the projected ways of promoting the Vita Apostolica of the Congregation.
Finally, Fr Jairo Diaz thanked the local superiors for joining the meeting, no matter the diverse time zones and circumstances. Then he asked Fr. General for his concluding words and blessing for all participants.
Saying goodbye, the confreres also shared their joy from this form of meeting with the General Council. Many thanked them for the valuable input and support they found in the presentations.