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Fr Provincial's Letter Sept '17...



1st September, 2017

Dear Confreres and friends,

This has been a very hectic month for me - having given two large retreats for Religious - as well as having a considerable amount of Province business.

I have just returned from Clapham where we met as an EPC, and also as an OPC. We also had a day long meeting of the Finance Secretariate. In addition, the EPC, as Trustees, attended the AGM of the Ace of Clubs which I chaired. I am happy to report that this initiative goes from strength to strength, and the new Director, Andrew Tyers has settled in well.

We are also on the eve of the Third Phase of the General Chapter. The capitulators from the Conference of Europe will meet in Kinnoull for one week beginning tomorrow, and this will include the Assembly of the Conference of Europe. Obviously this is an important time as we try to discern the mind of the General Chapter, and also see a way forward for the Province. I therefore ask you to keep this meeting in your prayers.

The logistics and organisation of the meeting have been considerable, and this includes collecting over 35 confreres from Edinburgh airport, setting up translation booths, sound equipment and a whole raft of other requirements. As well as the 35 Redemptorists who will be present, the two lay members who attended the First Phase will be with us for some days. They are Nicole Barber from our own Province, and Raphael Junquera from the Province of Madrid.


The Archbishop and priests of the Archdiocese of St. Andrews and Edinburgh have been here for a week of retreat and have enjoyed it enormously. They were preceded by 32 Religious, and I would share with you that both groups are greatly impressed by the refurbished Kinnoull. Many thanks again to all involved.

Fr. Michael Henesy and Bro. Michael Duxbury were due to leave Hawkstone today but they have postponed it until Sunday in order to ensure a smooth handover. I once again thank both of them for their generosity in caring for Hawkstone and wish them every blessing in Bishop Eton.

Father Jan Milcz had a lovely celebration in Liverpool with his family and community for his 90th birthday, and Fr. Bev Ahearn had a similar celebration in Clapham to commemorate 70 years of Religious Profession.

Over the summer, Clapham has seen its usual influx of confreres from around the world. These have included once again, two students from Poland, and a student from Slovakia who will stay for at least a semester, and a student from the Munich-Vienna Province who is also spending some time in Clapham. Our own students are working in Lourdes and in Spain, as well as in Houses of the Province.

During our EPC meeting we resolved to meet specifically to try and refine our Province Plan in view of the challenges of the apostolate and the number of confreres we have.

We hope to have this meeting in November. We have also arranged a Province Meeting for January and have invited the Coordinator of the North American Conference, Fr. Jack Kingsbury, to come and facilitate it. Father Jack is an experienced facilitator and has good overview of the last General Chapter. He will speak about restructuring in the light of the last Chapter and enable us to talk about our hopes, our fears, and above all about our missionary work in the Province. Initially we had arranged it for the first week in January so that our students could be present, but this proved to be impossible as it would have meant travel on the 1st or 2nd January, and there is no transport in Scotland at that time! So the meeting will take place from January 7th until January 12th . The first is the date of arrival and second the date of departure. I would urge as many as possible to attend this Province gathering as it is an opportunity to hear and discuss the outcome of the Third Phase of the Chapter, but also to express our hopes for the future. I ask that the Rectors arrange cover so that as many people as possible may be present. The experience of the elderly would be as welcome as that of the younger confreres. And there are very good rail links to Perth!

We have also arranged a Province Retreat for April and this will be led by Fr. Kevin O'Neill from the Baltimore Province. Kevin was one of the facilitators of the General Chapter and leads regular retreats to Religious. This will again be held in Kinnoull. We did look at other venues, but we felt that having the retreat in our own house outweighed the disadvantages of travel. The dates are: 29th April (arrival) until 4th May (departure).

The number of missions had been thin over the summer. However, there has been a fair amount of other apostolic work carried out.

We have also made appointments for the post of Province Youth Officer. This post was advertised in all our parishes and in social media, and three applicants were shortlisted. A panel of interviewers which included two Redemptorist and three experienced laypeople conducted the interviews. In the end it was decided to offer the job to 2 individuals who will job share. They are Natasha Pritchard and Anita Carson. Initially they will work out of Liverpool. However, the brief is to reach out to as much of the Province as possible.

Fr. Gabriel Maguire continues his stem cell treatment and remains positive. Fr. George Webster had a spell in hospital but is recovering and Bro. Thomas, who I visited twice this week, remains in the Little Sisters' residence at the Oval.

There will be two Final Professions in Zimbabwe on September 23rd - Bros. George Hama and Albert Zindonga. We send congratulations and blessing to both, and remain in solidarity with all the members of the Region.

Birthdays this month: B. Posvo 3rd , J. Clancy 4th , M. Duxbury 5th , F. Allinson 8th, A. Zembe 13th , D. Koffi 18th , T. Buckley 19th and T. Lemeyu 28th .

I guess I should include the birthdays of Blessed Maria Celeste on 14th and St. Alphonsus on 27th!

I am reading again the Rey-Mermet life of Saint Alphonsus, so you can expect quotations in the next month or two!! My other more profane reading I will keep to myself, although I do recommend a memoir of Alfred Dreyfus who was a French Jewish artillery officer and whose trial and conviction in 1894 on charges of treason became one of the most tense political dramas in modern French history with a huge repercussion all over Europe. The book brings out the extraordinary anti-Semitism of French society and indeed the French government at the end of the 19th century. For me, this is a stark reminder of the constant danger of xenophobia, but also of any form of fundamentalism or extremism in our society today.

That is not a very encouragin~ way to conclude, so I will wish you all every blessing for Our Lady's birthday on st September and assure you of my daily prayers for each one.

With best wishes,

In Christ the Redeemer

Ronald J McAinsh CSsR

Provincial Superior