Provincial's Letter January 2017...
26th January, 2017
Dear confreres and friends,
As we come to the conclusion of the first month of yet another year, I wish to share with you the fruits of the Visitation of the Province by the OPC.
First of all I express the gratitude of Frs. Richard, Gerry and myself for the warm welcome we received in each community. We were very touched by the kindness, openness and generosity of all the confreres. Indeed I believe it was a moment of grace for us.
We were very struck not only by the hospitality, but by the immense amount of apostolic work being done, the genuine good will among the confreres, and above all the spirit of prayer in each house. We were able to celebrate the Eucharist and participate in the prayer life of the three larger communities, and also had moments of reflection and prayer with the others.
The ministry in Kinnoull is settling into a rhythm, and the prayer life is regular. At Bishop Eton we were able to greet not only the community, but our co-workers both in the parish and in the house, and we are hugely grateful for their support. It was edifying to see our older confreres participate so fully in the Visitation. We were also struck by how they have made an effort to welcome Fr. Charles Randall. Charles who was appointed to the parish, has also been appointed assistant Vocations' Director with special focus on the North West, while Fr Peter Morris has the same role and focus for Scotland. They will work closely with Fr. Richard. I hope next month to offer a reflection on vocations.
After the visitation in Liverpool we went to Hawkstone where the two Michaels received us warmly and well, and we spent the night there. The following day they participated with us in the funeral of Dymphna Gregory, a long term friend of the community.
In Erdington we were able to speak with Fr. Gabriel in private, and then in the community meeting. Frs. Dicky, Gweme and O'Mahony also participated. The treatment Gabriel is receiving is very challenging but he remains with an up-beat disposition and is very hopeful for the future. I know you will continue to pray for him.
In Clapham we met with each confrere and this included our students in formation from our Province and the two students from outsIde. I would like to record our gratitude to the Prefect, Father Charles Corrigan again for the work he does for the student body and also thank the students for participating so well in the life of the community - and often going that extra mile to help out. Again, the older confreres are the backbone of this community; and of course we are blessed to have Fr. David Raju from the Bangalore Province working there.
On our visit to Chawton, we met not only with Frs Terry and Denis, but with Bro. Richard Maidwell from South Africa who has been staying there for a few months whilst he visits his mother daily. Again we were thankful for the hospitality and the sharing.
After that I flew to Luxembourg and had a valuable visit with Fr Ed Hone. The monastery there is being refurbished, and so for the past two years the confreres have been living on the top floor of the local convent, and it has not been easy. The marvellous thing is that Ed has transformed the worship of the English speaking community, and there are now upwards of 700 attending Mass each Sunday at Saint Alfonse. I met with some of the lay leaders and they spoke very highly of the ministry which Ed is conducting there.
Then it was back to London, and on to Vienna to visit Fr Dominic O'Toole. Dominic is at present in our house in Wurzburg improving his German, and is enjoying living in that community and helping in other houses/parishes of the Province of Vienna/Munich.
Yesterday the OPCs of Dublin and Saint Clements met in Kinnoull. I was sharing with them the challenge of presenting the experience and the decisions of the General Chapter in an 'exciting' way in the communities. It was interesting to hear that both Provincials had the same experience. Since the Visitation, I have been rereading the message of the Chapter. Although I had sent copes after the Chapter, I did bring a few to each community, and I would ask that each confrere really tries to read this document, and focus above all on the theme of Solidarity which emerged, and which perhaps I did not stress as fully as I should during the Visitations.
At the inter-Provincial Council meetings, we shared our respective realities, and again looked at ways of cooperating in mission, formation and in courses and retreats.
Next month Fr. Richard and I head to Zimbabwe for the Visitation of the Region and the communities there. Zimbabwe is undergoing many challenges, among which are problems in the area of food, sanitation and of course the ongoing financial difficulties.
Birthdays this month: Br D. Nyamuronda 2nd, Frs P. Jones 4th, D. Keegan 14th, G. Mubayiwa 15th, M. Henesy 24th.
By the time you receive my next letter, we will be into Lent and I pray that this is a time of conversion for us all. I particularly recommend the new book on the Stations of the Cross by Fr Denis McBride. It is well written and very insightful. And of course we can use the traditional Way of the Cross by St. Alphonsus which Fr Jim McManus has revised for CTS.
With prayers and good wishes,
In Christ the Redeemer,
Ronald J. McAinsh, C.Ss.R.