The General Council had its annual meeting along with the Coordinators of the Conferences from the 22nd to the 30th of January 2024 in Rome. The meeting had special significance as it was the first meeting with the newly appointed Coordinators who were attending for the first time, Fr César Torres Pantoja from Latin America and the Caribbean, Fr Jerome Chavarria from North America and Fr Yoakim Ndelo from Asia and Oceania. Fr Johannes Römelt from Europe and Fr Noel Sottima from Africa and Madagascar were reappointed for another term. The outgoing Coordinators were also present at this meeting, Fr. Jack Kingsbury, Fr Jovencio Ma and Fr Marcelo Araujo. The meeting began with a day of initiation and then a day of study and reflection (Ongoing Formation) on the theme of Abuse in Religious life today.
The first few days of the meeting were spent on presentations on the work and plans of the General Secretariats of Formation and of Evangelisation, and the Commissions for Spirituality, Partnership for Mission, Youth, the Brothers, Safeguarding for Mission, Communication and Media. The Coordinators were able to interact with those responsible for these Secretariats and Commissions as they look ahead to plan for their own Conferences. An entire day was given for study on the Role of the Conference Coordinator, expectations and relationship of the General Council with the Coordinator as well as expectations of the Coordinator from the General Council. Time was given for the Coordinators to share their experiences, especially those of the outgoing coordinators with the newly appointed coordinators as well as the general areas of challenges being experienced.
Other topics discussed were the Process of Reconfiguration, representation at the XXVII General Chapter, the Mid-Sexennial meeting, and General Visitations. One of the highlights of the Meeting was the presence of the General Council and the Coordinators at the Inauguration of the newly erected Province of Europe South at San Gioachino in Rome on the 25th of January. A daily celebration of the Eucharist in English, Spanish and Italian in the Chapel of the General Curia along with the celebration of the anniversary of the profession of Fr Rogério Gomes, Superior General, and the 25th anniversary of the priesthood of Fr Jairo Diaz were important moments of the prayer and liturgical celebration. Fr Rogério thanked the outgoing Coordinators for their years of service to the mission of the Congregation in their respective conferences and presented each of them with an icon of Our Mother of Perpetual Help.
The meeting was conducted in English, Spanish and Italian with the help of simultaneous translation and managed by the Secretary-General and his team. The next meeting was fixed for January 2025 keeping in mind that there will be online meetings of the General Council with the Coordinators during the year. Fr Rogério Gomes concluded the meeting by thanking everyone for their active participation, sharing, suggestions and ideas expressed as well as all those who worked to make this meeting a success.
Joseph Ivel Mendanha, C.Ss.R.