Fr Provincial writes...3rd March 2017...
3rd March, 2017
We are already well into the season of Lent and my prayer is that we will be open enough, through our self emptying, to receive the countless graces that the Lord wishes to offer us. I was in Clapham last week for a Finance Secretariat meeting and also an EPC meeting, and the spirit of this season was apparent in both our student group and the community at large.
Fr. Richard and I had just returned from a rather gruelling canonical Visitation of the Region of Zimbabwe. I am very happy to communicate to you that the Region is vibrant, faithful, hard-working, with a very good community spirit. We visited each community, as well as the mission in Chiweshe and a new Shrine Centre in the area we used to call 'Sally Mugabe’.
What was most striking is the complete collapse of the infrastructure in the country, and in particular the roads, many of which are just a mass of potholes. Each day we were stopped on many occasions by the police, and en route to Chiweshe had to pass 8 police road blocks. For the first four days there we were also without power in Tafara. We had intended to have a formal Novitiate Board meeting but some of the principals could not attend, and so we had an informal meeting with the Zimbabwean representatives, Fr. Sean Wales from South Africa and Fr. Raphael Kitheka from Kenya. I was also able to deliver the habits made by our Redemptoristine Sisters in Dublin and the rosaries made by our Polish students.
The Novitiate community joined us for Mass on the final Thursday evening with Frs. Sean and Raphael - and 45 of us were present for supper. We are now in the process of compiling the official Visitation report, although of course we did share a draft with the Council there. Overall it was an exhausting but exciting and life-giving experience.
Today Dominic Koffi was ordained to the priesthood in his native Ghana and Frs. Raymond, Joseph and Mark as well as 20 members of the parish attended the ceremony. Many congratulations to Dominic and to the Region.
I would like to express the gratitude of the Vicar Provincial and myself for the cooperation and hospitality we received from everyone, but in particular from the Regional Superior Father Raymond, and the Regional Vicar and Superior of the Tafara community, Brother Benjamin.
I had hoped to share with you some reflections on vocations to our own Province, but time pressures make this impossible in these days. I would again stress my request for each confreres to participate both in prayer and in action in this area. This coming weekend there is a vocations' gathering in Kinnoull and Fr. Richard our Vocations’ Director, Fr. Charles who is responsible for the Northwest, and Fr. Peter, responsible for Scotland, will be present.
Our Youth Officer for the Province, Paul Murphy, has tendered his resignation as he has been offered an exciting new post as an educational psychologist back in his home area in Scotland. This is Paul's specialist field, and although he is immensely sad at leaving his present post, he is looking forward to living in a more settled situation after several years of moving around the country.
In his resignation letter, Paul stressed how much he has loved his ministry with the Redemptorists and how he fully intends to continue sharing in the charism as far as is possible. In recent months, the ministry of 'missions to the homeless' which has touched so many young people, has proved to be very successful, and I have received many letters of gratitude for this initiative.
On behalf of the Province I thank Paul for all the work he has done as our pioneer full time lay Youth Officer in our various Redemptorist locations and another parts of the country, and I wish him every blessing and grace for his life in the months and years ahead.
The Provinces is also losing the service of David Logan, the Director of the Ace of Clubs. After many years of committed service David is moving on to a new post. David has raised the profile and the professionalism in the Ace of Clubs in a remarkable way over the past few years. He has been a successful fundraiser, a carer of those in need, a leader of staff, and a man of vision in empowering those on the margins. He will be difficult to replace. I will
write and express the gratitude of the Province for his work over the years.
I am sending with this letter, in hardcopy, the testimony of one of the young people who accompanied Paul Murphy on the mission to the homeless. I am asking the Rectors to make this available for you to read.
In terms of other happenings, the sale of Hawkstone is still not completed and the property developments in Clapham continue to take time and energy.
I am happy to report that Bro. Michael Duxbury has been appointed to be the Brother Representative for the Conference of Europe for the next six years. Bro. Michael will do this well and with enthusiasm.
Fr. Gabriel Maguire continues his treatment. The treatment itself is challenging and exhausting, but Gabriel continues to be in good spirits and is well supported by those around him in Erdington.
I am also enclosing in hardcopy a letter written by the Bishops of Malta entitled, “Criteria for the Application of Chapter 8 of Amoris Laetitia". Obviously this exhortation of the Holy Father has been widely read, and is of particular interest to Redemptorists in our ministry of reconciliation, accompaniment, compassion and mercy.
Chapter 8 as you may know has proved to be controversial in some areas of the Church. However this letter of the bishops of Malta is, in my opinion, extremely helpful. Its criteria are based on true gospel values as well as the teaching of the magisterium, and for us as Redemptorists, they are very much in line with the. teaching of Saint Alphonsus, patron of moral theologians and confessors.
As the Cardinal in charge of interpreting prescriptive text has stated, "the document in no way wounds the integrity of marriage, but enhances it".... while providing the opportunity for accompaniment, discernment and mercy for those who are in 'irregular' situations and who may be seeking the compassion of the Church and a new entry into the heart of Jesus. I would urge each one of you to reflectively read and pray over this document.
In speaking of fidelity, I am happy to remind you that this year we have cause for celebrations with many jubilees. They are as follows:
~ 15-08-2017 Fr Beverley Ahearn 70 years professed
~ 08-09-2017 Fr Francis Dickinson 60 years ordained
~ 08-09-2017 Frs Jim McManus, Jim Casey, Tony Johnson 60 years professed
~ 17-09-2017 Frs Michael Henesy, Philip Jones, Anthony Hunt 50 years ordained
~ 16-10-2017 Frs Denis McBride, Oliver Keyes 50 years professed
I am sure that each community, and indeed the Province, shall celebrate the goodness of God to each of these confreres.
Birthdays this month:
Fr R. Reid, 2nd , Bp R. Heskett 3rd , Br C. Reynolds 4th, Br B. Madyahoto 10th,
Fr G. Mulligan 11th , Br M. Taylor 12th, Fr W. Guri 25th.
I shall write again before Easter. In the meantime, all good wishes for the feasts of the Annunciation, St. Clement, St. Patrick and St. Joseph.
In Christ the Redeemer,
Ronald J. McAinsh, C.Ss.R.