" Only one thing remains: to live as a perfect Redemptorist and to persevere in this vocation unto death. "
Blessed Peter Donders C.Ss.R

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Fr Ronnie McAinsh CSsR reflects on the Retreat...

 

 

Day 4 General Chapter CSsR - Retreat Day 2

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Cardinal Tagle completed the retreat day for us with an ‘open mic’ session in the afternoon. He fielded a number of questions and concerns about religious life today such as how to deal with flagging zeal (e.g., getting into a comfort zone that is less than fully committed to the mission to the poor) or with the pressures on us to be careful of what we say lest their be consequences, for us and sometimes for our people. Cardinal Tagle offered the wisdom of his experience about leading through listening, through dialogue, and through service.

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The concluding Eucharist, however, was for me the hi-light of the retreat day. We celebrated the Solemn Mass of the Most Holy Redeemer; we celebrated primarily in Spanish (although six different languages were used in various places). And we celebrated with the Icon of Our Mother of Perpetual Help set in front of the altar. Then we heard a wonderful homily from the Cardinal. Speaking from the first reading (Paul’s letter to the Romans about sin and the law and salvation) he noted the phrase, “Where sin abounds, grace abounds more.” This, he noted, is the Gospel; it is God’s way of challenging and overcoming sin.

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So, he concluded, are we not obliged to do the same? From his time as a formator in the seminary he used the example of dealing with difficult seminarians. Following the advice of a wise priest, he learned to respond to these young men with love and trust, rather than judgment and condemnation. And he pointed out how d i f f i c u l t (he did stress the word!) this was for him. But it is what God does and what God asks of us, to be grace in the face of sin and failure! And perhaps, down the road, we will be graced to see the fruit that this bears!

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These have been two days of prayer and reflection. The Chapter delegates have also talked and shared with each other insights and moments of excitement from Cardinal Tagli’s presentations and reflections. They have been a good reminder that we are now to walk with the Living God, with the Holy Spirit, as we deal with the mundane and profound issues of the Congregation.

Fr. Mark Miller, CSsR

“Leaders make the future”: Cardinal Tagle...

On this second day of retreat, Morning Prayer was led by the Liturgy Commission.

Cardinal Tagle then began his third input.

His theme was Visionary and Effective Leadership for Mission.

Since the talks of the Cardinal are available online, only the main points will be outlined.

The Cardinal reminded us that our leadership goes beyond management and administration. Good administrators are not always good leaders.

Most manuals on leadership come from the business world, and we can learn from this.

One author asks the question “Can you truly become a leader from a seminar or a classroom?”

Moving to another author Bob Johansen whose book “Leaders make the future”, the Cardinal echoed what he took from this author.

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This reality will only increase and spread. And the danger is that we will get seminarians who are products of VUCA.

The first action of a leader must make us listen to the voice of VUCA. In such an atmosphere a true leader can emerge.

The challenge is to move from:

Volatility to Vision
Uncertainty to Understanding
Complexity to Clarity
Ambivalence to Agility.

One needs to listen to effect this transformative change.

Solidarity means profound listening. Changing means being fluid and humble.

Humility leads to empathy.

30660762551_9a29b70eb7_kThe Cardinal gave a example of a refugee mother whose cry was “What future is there for my children” – and in Asia, the highest suicide rate exists in the richest countries.

We need to distinguish between real problems and other things. Many leaders look at everything as problems. And so many leaders become problem solvers.

Often what we regard as problems are in fact dilemmas. Dilemmas are problems that will not go away.

“How do you solve a problem like Maria?” Is Maria a problem – or rather a dilemma? Are your members problems or dilemmas?

With problems you have to find solutions. For dilemmas you have to tell stories. The leader of today must be a story teller and not just a problem solver. This is how we show solidarity with the poor. It is their story that we tell.

He then moved on to Church leadership and again referred to a contemporary author.

A leader must pay attention to:

1. Vision
What does God want us to become now? Vision comes from prayer and discernment. So the community becomes vision-led rather than person-led. (For example, a new parish priest might set out to delete the memory of the former one).

The Vision that galvanises a community:

Vision should excite a community? It should empower community.

Vision gives us criteria for evaluating our mission and community life.

Vision lifts our eyes.

2. Culture.

A leader must know the culture of his community and cultures in which he lives.
Who are the gossips in community? It is important to identify them. Who are the whisperers? The power behind the throne.

3. Team formation.

A leader must exercise relational authority – not just juridical or canonical norms – an authority based on the Vision.

4. Integrity.

This embodies the vision of the organisation in its very person. This brings authenticity. This leadership is also important in family life. Even parents can fail because of lack of integrity.

3. Jesus
Roles: shepherd/king/prophet/servant. Not simply leader in secular sense.

We exercise leadership by becoming servant.

Jesus understood himself as a missionary.

Jesus sees himself as the one sent by the Father. He was consumed by this. He knew he would suffer and die. ‘Save me from this hour’. ‘ Now this is the hour. Father glorify your name’

To glorify the Father.
Today’s leaders are often attached to ambition. Ambitious people never serve. They seek self glorification.

NB. The self identity of Jesus. Even at the hour of his death he could say “I will glorify the Father”.
Jesus trusted his disciples

They were aware that as a rabbi Jesus was quite different from others. Jesus chose his ‘students’.

He chose the students by calling those who would give his school a very bad name.

Jesus asks “what do others say of me…..”
Peter’s answer is a litany of possibilities.
And Jesus’ response is “You are Peter.. ”
And the dialogue continues with eventually Peter ending with 3 names: Simon:Peter:Satan

And then he sends them out giving them authority over unclean spirits.

He gives them real authority – a simple authority that changes things.

Pride destroys leaders
Pride destroyed mission
Pride destroys community.

The cardinal concluded by asking us to assume real authority.

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30748811835_ffa187b1b8_kLater in the morning we gathered in the chapel for a 50 minute prayer service in honour of Our Mother of Perpetual Help.

Ronald J. McAinsh, C.SS.R.

The Provincial writes for November 2016...

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28th October, 2016

Dear Confreres and friends,

 

As you will be aware, our General Chapter begins at the end of this month and I know that the communities have been praying that the Holy Spirit will be with the capitulars as we review the past sexennium, plan and discern for the future and elect a new General Government. I will try and keep you updated with key moments from the Chapter.

 

As is my custom, I also remind you of the importance of observing the suffrages for our beloved dead. The four Masses that the communities should celebrate in November are: the deceased members of the Province and Region, all deceased Redemptorists, our deceased benefactors, our deceased parents and relatives. This is one way of expressing our deep gratitude for the amazing mission carried out by those on whose shoulders we continue to build and spread the gospel.

 

You will have seen from our web page that Br. Massimiliano Mura wrote an icon of Blessed Maria Celeste Crostorosa for the Clapham community. It was good to have Max with us, and I look forward to continuing our cooperation as he is translating at the General Chapter.

Morning Prayer and Talk by Cardinal Tagle...

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Well worth a watch! Thank you Cardinal Tagle!

Day 3 of the General Chapter – Retreat Day 1 – Nov. 2, 2016...


Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagli, the Cardinal Archbishop of Manila in the Phlippines, continued our retreat day with a second reflection in the afternoon. He focused our attention on solidarity in community life, especially for consecrated religious. He reminded us to pay attention to the cultural context in which each of us lives.

He began by pointing out that every community is composed of individuals who come from different cultures, i.e., with different expectations, different ways of doing things, different emotional responses. When a religious community comes together—which is God’s work in choosing these individuals to live together—attentiveness to the uniqueness of each person is important so that a common direction can then be chosen without running roughshod over individuals. Respectful dialogue and, especially, listening become critical to building a community that is a prophetic witness to respect and solidarity or communion of persons precisely in the care of community members for each other.

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Next, Cardinal Tagli pointed out two aspects of modern culture which infect each of us in almost unconscious ways. We live in what he called a culture of ‘alienating individualism’ which so readily sacrifices community for personal desires or self-fulfillment. And, secondly, as Pope Francis has pointed out, we live in a throw-away culture that is all too ready to move on to the newest item instead of valuing the gifts we already have. And, unfortunately, as we throw away things we also often ‘throw away’ people, such as migrants or the poor or the handicapped.

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Both of these cultural realities make true community, which is based upon receiving the gifts offered by God and others, a challenge today. But not an impossibility! Knowing Jesus and his intimacy with the Father and the Spirit is the basis for prophetic community, where intimacy is not a cloying sentimentality but a true respect for the gift of one another and the call to solidarity and harmony for the sake of the mission.

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The retreat day concluded with a Holy Hour of prayer in the beautiful retreat chapel, built in accord with Thai architecture, symbols, and art.


The day of prayer has been a great reminder that we are here to do God’s work, not to be good administrators and get through the work of a Chapter. Thus, the opportunity for Chapter delegates to listen to God in contemplative prayer and in dialogue with one another could not have come at a better time.

Fr. Mark Miller, CSsR

Day 3 CSsR General Chapter - Retreat Day...

 

“Indeed only a wounded faith is credible; and we are invited to put our hand into the wounded side of the poor”: Cardinal Tagle


The day began with Office for the dead since it is All Souls’ Day . It was led by the liturgy commission.

Afterwards Fr. General introduced Cardinal Luis Tagle, the Archbishop of Manila in the Philippines.

Cardinal Tagle will be leading us for the next two days of recollection.

He wished to speak today today about solidarity in the sense of the reality of true communion: communion with Christ and communion with the poor.

He spoke of the grace of this Year of Jubilee of Mercy and of the emphasis on solidarity with the poor. He also emphasised the mercy of God as manifest in tenderness, adding that the first victims of a lack of tenderness are always the poor.

gf8a3147The cardinal then spoke of the instinctive attachment of a mother to a child as being a metaphor of God’s love for us. We need to build on this by thinking of others as my brother or my sister – no one is separate from me.

He then referred to the parable of the Good Samaritan and spoke about the Levite who was an expert on law and Who wanted to use it to limit the definition of “who is my neighbour”. Anyone, indeed even the outsider is a neighbour.

Because the person lying by the side of the road might ha e been dead, the Levite was afraid of becoming ritually impure but the Samaritan lifted him up. So our sense of communion cannot be limited by ethnic surroundings. Even the enemy is my child.

Likewise in the parable of the lost son, we should remember that there was a lost brother also.

3y0a0825The cardinal reminded us that the poor are not a category but are human beings who are part if us. They endure the wounds of thirst and injustice as well as the wounds of infidelity in family life which causes each member of the family to be wounded.

Individualism also wounds charity and limits communion. So often we see migrants and refugees blamed for the social and economic problems of our world.

Wounds call for healing and we must be agents of healing. Remember the appearance of Jesus after the resurrection when he invites Thomas to put his hand inside of him, inside his side. This is solidarity and communion.

3y0a0868Wounds remain wounds and our world is full of wounds. Indeed only a wounded faith is credible; and we are invited to put our hand into the wounded side of the poor.

When we deny wounds, we deny our mortality and so we distance ourself from others. In fact if we deny death, we inflict death. If I cannot feel pain then I kill my capacity for love.

The cardinal ended with a very moving story of a lady who was a refugee and felt she was was totally alone until she realised that she was not the only one who was crying. Only then she felt solidarity and communion.

The Cardinal also led our common celebration of the Eucharist for our beloved dead and for those who have no one to pray for them.

He again spoke of solidarity and the communion of saints. He stated that sickness is a foretaste of death. Sickness can isolate you and so increase the fear of death. Through life comes in our communion with death.

The parish in which the members do not communicate is a dead parish. Our God is a God of life. He refuses to leave us alone. We die to relationships because of our sins – but Jesus refuses to leave us and in fact died for us and leads us back to God.

When we die many things die…. relationships and rituals. Jesus will not allow anyone to die. He entered death and therefore death is no longer isolation – but communion with Jesus.

Therefore we go to the isolated in communion with him and offer life.

Ronald J. McAinsh, C.SS.R.

Day 2 of the General Chapter – Tuesday, Nov. 1, 2016...

The dialogue begins!
Following the morning presentation, his Report on the State of the Congregation by Fr. General, Michael Brehl, and the reactions/discussion in small groups, the General Chapter delegates entered fully into the process of sharing with and listening to one another. In the afternoon the summaries of the small group discussions were presented. Then the floor was opened during a plenary in which anyone could speak, in particular to the issues raised by Fr. General and the small groups.

I confess that I sat in some astonishment at the collegial atmosphere of respect and trust among the confreres. Some harsh truths were aired but, more importantly, the challenge of a General Chapter—to assess the situation of the Congregation throughout the world and to seek ways to be more faithful to our charism and mission—opened the door to a rich dialogue around hopes, concerns, excitement, fears, and possibilities.

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Issues were raised concerning how to put the Mission front and centre in our lives—the Redemptorist mission to the most abandoned and the poor—and what that means for all the different cultural situations in which we find ourselves. There was considerable discussion about formation, both for students becoming Redemptorists and for Redemptorists constantly updating themselves. There was much discussion about strengthening the commitment to mission by re-structuring units for greater efficiency and dedication. There were questions about community life and how it is meant to support the Mission. And much more.

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And we concluded with a beautiful, concise response from Fr. Brehl about the clear demands of our Constitutions and Statutes to live in apostolic communities—giving witness to the community of the Father, Son & Spirit and their desire to be in communion with humanity—for the sake of the Mission, for the sake of the poor and most abandoned. This is our foundation. The rest of the Chapter will deal with the details of living this commitment with renewed hearts.

Fr. Mark Miller, CSsR

XXV CSsR General Chapter - what does it mean?

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For the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer (Redemptorists), a General Chapter is held every six (6) years. The Congregation’s Directory of Chapters states very clearly what a General Chapter is and what is expected of it. We are told “it is the supreme organ of internal government of the Congregation,” in others words, the General Chapter legislates for the life of Redemptorists throughout the world. Perhaps more importantly, however, the General Chapter is also “an expression of the concern and participation of all members in promoting the good of the whole institute” (Constitution 104). Gathered together in “Chapter”, the delegates present to the world the image of the Congregation.

The Constitutions of the Congregation tell us that “it is the function of the general chapter to care for the interest of the apostolic life of the entire Institute, to strengthen the links that bind its individual parts together, [and to adapt] the Congregation to the needs of the Church and humanity.”

Clearly, the work of the General Chapter is vital to the continuation of the Congregation’s mission in the world today. It carries a great responsibility. For this reason, since May 2014, the Redemptorists worldwide have been engaged in a process of careful examination, to discover if they remain faithful to the mission of the Congregation, in accordance with the spirit of their Founder, St. Alphonsus. In doing so, the members examine themselves as to whether or not they are giving willing attention to the voice of God who is continually challenging the Congregation through the Church and the world.

This examination of the Congregation and its life and mission culminates in November this year when more than 100 Redemptorists and lay partners, representing the worldwide Congregation, come together in Pattaya, Thailand, for the 25th General Chapter. During their time together, they will reflect carefully on the examination that has taken place over the past two years, discern prayerfully where the voice of God is leading the Congregation today. They will then take practical decisions and set a direction for the coming six years. To facilitate and to oversee the implementation of the direction set, the members gathered together in chapter will elect a Government, composed of the Superior General and six General Consultors from various parts of the world. They will have the heavy responsibility for ensuring that the Congregation remains faithful to its charism in the coming years and continues to preach the Gospel in a manner that is always new and speaks to the hearts of the people of today.

Fr. General presents his report in the General Chapter...

The second day of the Chapter began with morning prayer led by the Province of Denver. As it was All Saints day, we had a litany of the Saints done with PowerPoint and ending with a variety of icons of Our Blessed Lady.

30072584424_d75425a945_kAt the beginning of the first session Fr. General reminded us that this is the anniversary of the year in 1866 when Pope Pius IX entrusted the icon of our Mother of Perpetual Help to the Redemptorists, and is also the date of our first foreign mission. 150 years ago today Blessed Peter Donders became a novice in the country of Surinam.

Fr. General then presented his report in two parts.

The first presentation contained a statistical overview. Although the number of professed confreres has gone down slightly since the last General Chapter, we are now ministering in more than 80 countries.

30069718503_5df1cbcb08_kFr. General spoke about the restructured Units where groups have come together. He also reminded us of the Seven Principles of Restructuring.

He then gave details about the Year of Mercy, the Jubilee of OLPH, about the Beatifications, the natural disasters as well as the mass movement of peoples, especially migrants and refugees.

After a brief break the main body of the report was delivered.

Fr. General spoke about several contexts:

He began with the Ecclesial Context, highlighting the courageous resignation of Pope Benedict and the election of Pope Francis and the three Synods which have taken place.

Next the World Context:

He mentioned the ecological crisis, violence and terrorism, refugees and migrants, fundamentalism, natural disasters

Reminding us again of the 7 Principles of Restructuring and the importance of Restructuring being for mission, he stressed the centrality of the Mission of Christ the Redeemer. This is essential for this Chapter. It is not a business meeting.

The 7th Principle is very important….to commit ourselves as Chapter delegates to collaborate in a spirit of co-responsibility. We must communicate with the whole Congregation our desire for the direction of this Chapter.

30070124383_c5ab84f876_zMission and Renewal of our missionary priorities.

Missionary priorities are not a list of what we do. Our priorities indicate first of all the people to whom we are sent and the message God gave us to share.
Therefore we must collaborate with others and consider new missionary forms and -indeed to seek them out. The process of restructuring is always at the service of mission.

Conferences and Units

We have too many Units in the Congregation. We should half the number of Provinces. The province structure is still the most affective. We get caught up in administration and self preservation. The Conference is a transitional structures to get us to where we need to go. When we arrive at 35 Units then a Conference of major superiors will be effective.

Apostolic community and consecrated life.

It is an essential a law of our life that we live and work and minister from community.

The last Chapter mandated a plan of community life for each community in the world. However two concerns remain: a lack of common understanding of what an apostolic community means. We also need structures for a sacred space for dialogue and we also need to rethink our life together in terms of the Constitutions.

Ronald J. McAinsh, C.SS.R.

Day 1 of the General Chapter – Monday, Oct. 31, 2016...
Details! Details! Details!

Today we caught a glimpse of how much work has gone into the preparations for the General Chapter as the details of what has to happen and what will happen were outlined for us. The Chapter Preparatory Commission which was named by the General Government in April, 2014 has overseen every aspect of the Chapter to make sure that things will go smoothly while at the same time allowing for a full and free conversation about the state of the Congregation today. It is humbling to see all the different committees, commissions, volunteers, appointments, and planning that this Commission undertook.

For example, we have a liturgy booklet that outlines all the liturgical celebrations for the coming four weeks, the daily Eucharists (in six different languages each day, except when we all come together for a special liturgy), morning prayer, and prayer before sessions and before meals. In total we have about a dozen documents that deal with everything from meal times to postulata and reports from those with various responsibilities within the Congregation.

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In the afternoon, we had the pleasure of seeing every Chapter delegate as well as every confrere helping with the Chapter (translators, notaries, specialists, etc.) introduced to the Assembly by the five Conference Coordinators. This gave a visible, tangible sign of the world-wide reach and ministry of the Congregation.


Finally, the Moderators outlined the various commissions that will assist with the proper functioning of the Chapter (like the editorial commission, the theological and canon law commissions, and even the ‘conviviality commission’ for evening time) and they walked us through the proposed agenda for the coming two weeks. There is much to be accomplished.

30381750280_e9e215f5cf_kBut I return to my initial impression: The amount of details that have been attended to is astonishing. And this bodes well for a well-run, harmonious Chapter.

Fr. Mark Miller, CSsR

XXV General Chapter is officially started in Pattaya, Thailand...

The 25th General Chapter began with the celebration of Holy Mass in the beautiful Thai style chapel at Pattaya. Fr. General was the chief celebrant assisted by the Vicar General, Fr. Enrique Lopez and the Provincial of Thailand Fr. Joseph Apisit.

30565243802_9d1c53b3ac_kA votive Mass of the Holy Spirit was celebrated in Italian. The homily was based on the gospel from John, on the post-resurrectional appearance of Jesus and his message of peace. Fr General reminded the capitulars that Jesus can come even through closed or locked doors. Quoting the address of the Holy Father at the beginning of the last Synod, he reminded us that this is not a business meeting or a parliament style gathering, but a work of the Holy Spirit. He urged all present to enter into a mode of listening, fraternal sharing and openness to the Spirit of God.

30381929730_86300da65d_kAt the conclusion of the Mass all the members processed to the Aula which has been specially constructed for this Chapter. On entering, Fr General officially blessed the building and all present.

After a short break, the 100 capitulators (one has yet to arrive) and 16 support staff consisting of notaries, translators and technical support personnel listened while Fr General outlined the programme of the morning. He introduced first of all the three moderators, and advice was given about the voting machines and other equipment.

30594188171_036c03dab1_kBrother Jeffrey Rolle read the document from the Commission for ratifying the status of all present as voting members of the Chapter, after which Fr. General asked all to vote on the proposition that the 25th General Chapter be officially opened.

This was followed by a report from the Secretary General in which he outlined details of the preparation for the Chapter which have taken place, and also gave details of the various documents supplied to each Chapter member. An outline of the daily timetable was also given.

30051151324_74a2631467_kWe were reminded by Fr. General that today is the birthday of both Blessed Maria Celeste Crostorosa and also Fr. Brendan Kelly, the Secretary General!!!

Fr. Michael from the local community then introduced the local support team who will work to ensure the smooth running of the Chapter. He also informed us of possibilities for seeing the locality and our various Redemptorist apostolates.

For the first time at a General Chapter, the confreres sat at 13 large round tables in language groups, and it is hoped that this will facilitate easier and more effective communication.

30645342006_9487f18f67_hA break for lunch was taken and in the afternoon further information and opening formalities will take place.

Ronald J. McAinsh, C.SS.R.

Fr Provincial writes Nov 2016...

provincialsletterhead

28th October, 2016

Dear Confreres and friends,

As you will be aware, our General Chapter begins at the end of this month and I know that the communities have been praying that the Holy Spirit will be with the capitulars as we review the past sexennium, plan and discern for the future and elect a new General Government. I will try and keep you updated with key moments from the Chapter.

As is my custom, I also remind you of the importance of observing the suffrages for our beloved dead. The four Masses that the communities should celebrate in November are: the deceased members of the Province and Region, all deceased Redemptorists, our deceased benefactors, our deceased parents and relatives. This is one way of expressing our deep gratitude for the amazing mission carried out by those on whose shoulders we continue to build and spread the gospel.

You will have seen from our web page that Br. Massimiliano Mura wrote an icon of Blessed Maria Celeste Crostorosa for the Clapham community. It was good to have Max with us, and I look forward to continuing our cooperation as he is translating at the General Chapter.

Fr Peter CSsR blesses the CSsR graves at Kinnoull...

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Remembering our deceased loved ones and deceased confreres there was the Blessing of the Graves today, here in Kinnoull Cemetery.

Fr. Peter Morris C.Ss.R. with the Sabbatical Course participants

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An act of tenderness towards the confreres who have gone before us.

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Requiescant in pace!

Fr Jim McManus CSsR preaching in the Cathedral...

Fr Jim McManus CSsR preaching to the holy people of God in St Andrew's Cathedral, the principal church for the Diocese of Dunkeld, in the City of Dundee.

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God bless your ministry!

Fr General writes about Cardinal-designate Tobin CSsR...

superior general current and emeritus

Feast of St. Gerard Majella, C.Ss.R.

Dear Confreres, Sisters, Associates and Friends:

On Sunday, October 9, 2016, Pope Francis announced the names of new Cardinals to be created at the Consistory on November 19. Among those named was our brother, Archbishop Joseph William Tobin of the Denver Province, Archbishop of Indianapolis, USA.

Cardinal-designate Tobin embodies in so many ways the description of the Redemptorist Missionary in Constitution 20:

“Strong in faith, rejoicing in hope, burning with charity, on fire with zeal, in humility of heart and persevering in prayer, Redemptorists as apostolic men and genuine disciples of Saint Alphonsus follow Christ the Redeemer with hearts full of joy; denying themselves and always ready to undertake what is demanding, they share in the mystery of Christ and proclaim it in Gospel simplicity of life and language, that they may bring to people plentiful redemption.”

Shortly after the announcement, Cardinal-designate Tobin explained how he understands this appointment: “Pope Francis is a grace for this time, and he really needs to choose his collaborators carefully. I am aware of how vast the Catholic Church is, and how many great leaders it has. The new Cardinals were chosen for the present needs of the Church… to represent the catholicity or universality of the Catholic Church.” It is clear to me, and to his brothers in the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer, that Pope Francis has chosen wisely!