From November 28th to 30th, 2023, a total of 45 Redemptorists met from the Provinces of Madrid, Lisbon, France, Rome, and Naples, among whom were, by invitation, Fr. François Stanula (General Vicar), Josè Carlos Linhares (Procurator General) and Johannes Römelt (Coordinator of Europe). We all gathered to live this historic moment prior to the union that will form the new province of Europe South. The purpose of this meeting was merely the election of the new provincial government.
We officially began our meeting on the morning of Tuesday, November 28th, with the Eucharist of the Holy Spirit, presided over by Fr. François Stanula, who preached to us about the importance of being aware that we are all in the same canoe in which we all paddle. Afterwards, we were invited to dedicate the day to discernment and prayer. For this, Fr. Johannes presented the history of the restructuring process in Europe South up to this point, as well as the decisions of the XXVI General Chapter regarding leadership. Next, we had a time of personal prayer and reflection, along with a community prayer that invited us to experience the presence of the Holy Spirit in us and open our hearts to the will of God. Likewise, Fr. Josè Antonio Linhares clarified for us the technical and canonical issues that we had to consider with respect to the Electoral Law.
Subsequently, after a day and a half of voting, our new provincial government for the future Province of Europe South was formed as follows:
– Provincial Superior: Fr. Gennaro Sorrentino (Naples)
– Provincial Vicar: Fr. Desiré Zante (France)
– Three ordinary consultors: Frs. Massimiliano Guardini (Rome), Francisco Javier Caballero (Madrid), and Rui Santiago (Lisbon).
– Two extraordinary consultors: Frs. Alberto Eseverri (Madrid) and Raoul Peralta (France).
After the official closing of the assembly, we were able to visit the town of Colmar together and, after having returned to Trois-Épis, we celebrated the thanksgiving Eucharist presided over by the newly elected Provincial Superior, accompanied by his council. In it, Fr. Gennaro Sorrentino dedicated some beautiful words to us in his homily: “Transformation only comes when we are available to change; our life is mission and to be missionaries it is necessary to work as a team, since it is not an individual job. Witnessing Christ is an adventure of confreres.” In turn, he had some words addressed especially to all the young confreres, to those in formation, and to the future vocations of the new province, because “the Lord is capable of doing everything, but he needs collaborators, and they are and will be the instruments whom God may make use of in the future.”
After kindly thanking our confreres of the Province of France for the generous reception and preparation of this meeting in Trois-Épis, we concluded our elective assembly having fulfilled not only our main objective: the election of the future provincial government, but, in turn, so many others most important: the (re)encounter between brothers, the joyful fraternity forged in conversations, at the table, in prayer, and, furthermore, the experience of a whole hope in view of the new and exciting path that opens before all of us: a new common project, a new Province, a new Mission together.
Fr. Carlos A. Diego Gutiérrez, CSsR