Process of Restructuring in the Congregation


            A few days before the start of the Mid-Year Meeting and the VI Assembly of the Conference of Latin America and the Caribbean (Mexico 2019), let us reflect together on the trajectory of the Restructuring process in the Congregation since the General Chapters [1] .

This meeting of the Conference is important because it will define the documents of the “Apostolic Plan” and “Reconfiguration Project”, for all the Redemptorists of Latin America and the Caribbean.

            It is a time of grace, a time to let the Holy Spirit act in our lives and in the Congregation. The Holy Spirit pushes us to be an outgoing Congregation, where the poor are our subject of concern. It is a time of grace to Restructure ourselves in the mission and revitalize our Apostolic Life. Let the Spirit lead us to be “Witnesses of the Redeemer, Solidarity for the mission, in a wounded world.”

            The present work does not exhaust all the scientific rigor of research but a study of the documents consulted.

A) XXI General Chapter, Itaici – Brazil, 1991

Recommendations 10.2

62.- “That the General Government be in charge of starting a process of restructuring the units of the Congregation. This looks above all to two main points:

a) To help units that have fallen in terms of personnel below the requirements of Statute 088, as well as groups of units that show serious signs of personal decline.

b) Stimulate renewed pastoral initiatives, which are difficult to sustain by isolated units. “

B) XXII General Chapter, West End – USA, 1997

9.- Government and Administration

9.1 Restructuring (407 – English)

“The General Chapter asks the General Government to continue the process initiated in the Final Document of the General Chapter of 1991. No. 62, which states: This process looks above all to two main points: a) to help the units that they have fallen in terms of personnel below the requirements of Statute 088, as well as groups of units that show serious signs of personal decline; b) Stimulate renewed pastoral initiatives, which are difficult to sustain by isolated units.”

C) XXIII General Chapter, Rome – Italy, 2003

Government of the Apostolic Community

Restructuring of the Congregation

11. The administrative structures of the Congregation are not an end in themselves, but support for the mission. There is currently a consensus among the Redemptorists that the structures of the Congregation hold back, from time to time, a creative and efficient response to the pastoral needs of our time. The Chapter, therefore, has decided the following:

11.1 The XXIII General Chapter asks the General Council to continue the restructuring of the institutions of the Congregation. We note that the restructuring was initiated by the General Chapter of 1991 and confirmed, six years later, by the General Chapter of 1997. However, our study of the Instrumentum Laboris and the report of the Superior General to the Chapter as well as the various postulates, move to invite everyone to make a greater effort.

11.2 The general objective of this restructuring is to positively and jointly stimulate the apostolic dynamism of the Congregation in the realization of its mission in the Church. The Congregation exists for the mission and has, therefore, the obligation to adapt its structures to it. The restructuring process encompasses, but does not limit, the following objectives:

·        The most effective functioning of general, (vice) provincial and regional structures;

·        Greater solidarity in initial and on-going formation;

·     A more efficient exchange of personnel among the Units of the Congregation to respond to the new changes facing our mission, such as migration;

·        Better coordination of economic resources;

·        Support more easily the provinces that face particular crises, the aging of their members or their possible disappearance;

·        The need to respond to the issue of representation in the next General Chapter.

11.3. To expedite this process, the General Council will establish a commission that will provide models and strategies to improve or readjust the current structures of the Congregation.

·        This commission, created by the General Council for this six-year term, should have a broad representation of the Congregation. Instituted by the General Council, the commission will work in close collaboration with it. The commission will carry out consultations in each Region of the Congregation and will take into account the experiences of restructuring already begun. In addition, it will take into account the experience of other religious Institutes.

·        The commission will send periodic reports to the General Council. The members of the Congregation will be informed about it. The commission will present a full report on the restructuring to the major superiors at the mid-six-year regional meetings in 2006, including the theme for representation at the 2009 General Chapter.

·        The commission is expected to conclude its work with sufficient time so that it can be presented and studied at the pre-chapter regional meetings and at the 2009 General Chapter.

11.4. During the time of evaluation of structures, the General Council, with due consultation with the (vice) provinces and regions, will create structures “as experimentum” that contribute to the mission of the Congregation, as, for example, regional or sub-regional, in advance in view of a more complete restructuring. The General Chapter of 2009 will evaluate all the elements mentioned above.

11.5. The six Regions of the Congregation and each Unit in particular will commit themselves to the process of restructuring, always consulting the confreres. This task does not necessarily have to be left until the work of the commission is completed, and rather it must be done in harmony and in communication with it.

D) Steps taken by the General Government 2003-2009

1.- Letter from Fr. General, Joseph W. Tobin , Rome, February 2, 2004, 0000 010/04

The General Chapter devoted a lot of time to reflect on the concept of restructuring in the Congregation. To clarify our ideas on this important issue, the General Council has begun to produce a document that we hope to publish for the entire Congregation around the coming Easter. We hope to be prepared for that time and present a project that puts into practice the orientations of the General Chapter. We already warn of the absolute need to merge the restructuring to the theme of the sexennium, to give our lives for abundant redemption, with the call to become God-centred, the abandoned poor and the Redemptorist community. Otherwise, any change in the organization of the Congregation runs the risk of becoming a simple administrative matter.

2. Letter of Fr. General, Joseph W. Tobin , Rome, September 24, 2004, Prot. No. 0000 132/04

I am writing to inform you of an important decision taken by the General Council on the occasion of our last Extraordinary Meeting from August 30 to September 6, 2004. After having consulted the Major Superiors of the Congregation, we have elected six confreres who make up the Commission for Restructuring as requested by the XXIII General Chapter (Guidelines 11.3). As you will recall from my previous letter, the General Council chose to choose a confrere from each of the great Regions of the Congregation. The members of said Commission are, then, the following:

Juan Manuel LASSO DE LA VEGA AND MIRANDA  (Madrid, Europe-South Region)
Cornelius CASEY  (Dublin, North-Europe Region)
Guy PILOTE  (Ste-Anne de Beaupré, Region North America)
José Ulysses DA SILVA  (São Paulo) Latin America Region )
Brendan KELLY  (Cebu, Asia-Oceania Region)
Lawrence KAUFMANN  (South Africa, Africa Region)

The General Council is very satisfied with the composition of the Commission.

3.- 1st meeting of the Commission, December 14, 2004

 4.- 2nd meeting of the Commission, August 29, 2005, Aparecida – Brazil.

“At the end of the meeting it was possible for us to sketch an initial Document on Restructuring that contains the principles governing the restructuring as well as the different proposals for each of the six Regions. This document was presented to the members of the General Council for its deliberation. The Commission will meet with the General Council in Rome from 19 to 21 December 2005 to determine the process to be followed. “

5.- Letter from Fr. General, Joseph W. Tobin , Rome, February 25, 2006 and Work of the Restructuring Commission: “Work in progress, some proposals”.

This document has three sections.

The first section presents the general principles.

The second section deals with the models and other implications of restructuring.

The third section refers to the Congregation in each of the six current geographical Regions.

6.- Letter of Fr. General, Joseph W. Tobin, Rome, May 4, 2007.

Positive evaluation of the working document of the commission in the mid-sexennium Meetings (2006). Negative aspects that stand out: ” especially during the general visits, it suggests that the debate on the restructuring has been quite reduced, limited to the leaders who participated in the regional meetings; In many places, a considerable number of confreres remain indifferent and uninformed. The restructuring is seen more in negative terms, as a process directed exclusively to the fact of the decrease or decrease, instead of being seen as an opportunity for a new life.”

Despite all the Father General said: “Despite the current obstacles, my personal opinion is that the government of the Congregation sees the restructuring as an authentic opportunity and is determined to carry forward the debate.”

7.- Meeting of the Commission, June 2007

E) XXIV General Chapter, Rome – Italy 2009

The majority of what we now live by Restructuring was legislated.

1.- The seven principles of the restructuring
2.- Conferences: 5 conferences
3.- Congregational work in the network
4.- Celebration of the General Chapter in three phases: Initial phase, Canonical    phase, Implementation phase.
5.- General Council
6.- Epilogue: profile of the Conference, profile of the Redemptorist confrere trained in this new vision.

 F)  XXV General Chapter Phase II, Pattaya -Tailand 2016

Decision 1: The General Government will continue the restructuring process for the Mission with all the implications.

Decision 2: The four principles to ensure greater solidarity in the Congregation.

Decision 3: It encourages to begin a process of union / federation with another Unit or Units under the guidance of the General Government and the Coordinator of each Conference.

Decision 4: The Coordinator has the right to participate in the Assemblies and Chapters of the Units.

Missionary Work of the Congregation

Decision 5: Apostolic Plan for the Congregation, implemented by the Conferences. The General Government will give the criteria for its elaboration.

Decision 6: The future of the Congregation in the Northern Hemisphere, guarantee the missionary presence in Europe and North America. 2 principles.

Decision 8: The General Government will continue to promote bilateral cooperation among the Units of the congregation. Associated communities-sisters.

Solidarity for the Mission

Decision 17:  Africa and Madagascar priorities for the Congregation. The Government invites to seek ways of collaboration.

Decision 18: Economic Solidarity with the Conference of Africa and Madagascar.

Decision 19: Annual Collection in the entire Congregation for the Solidarity Fund.

Decisions: 26, 27, 32, 44,


In our Congregation we have been reflecting and acting on restructuring for 28 years, there are advances, setbacks and the process sometimes becomes very slow but:

·       The Restructuring in our Congregation is not going to stop, it will continue its process.

·       It is a motion of the Holy Spirit that is recreating the Religious Life in the world.

·    The Restructuring takes us to a new paradigm to meet the poor, our recipients – interlocutors.

·    The Restructuring is taking us to a Congregation in exitence, in service, to the peripheries to find ourselves with that wounded world that claims us.

·    Restructuring is taking us by the Holy Spirit, to a missionary option capable of transforming everything (ad intra and ad extra).

·       Restructuring takes us to a mission shared with the laity.

May our Mother of Perpetual Help, St. Alphonsus, all the Saints, Blessed and Redemptorist Martyrs help us in this mission.

Father Grimaldo Garay Zapata
Missionary Redemptorist.

[1] A general vision of all the General Chapters in the Congregation. Cf. P. Álvaro Cordoba Chaves, CSSR. “The Redemptorist General Chapters: Chronological Development (1749-2009). Spicilegium Historicum Congregationis SSmi Redemptoris Annus 63, 2015. Fasc 2.