Fr Provincial writes every month...
30th November, 2016
Dear Confreres and friends,
All good wishes for the season of Advent. In these days the liturgy, and I am sure our preaching, stress vigilance, watchfulness and waiting. We are also reminded that this is a season of hope and quiet joy. The reality for many is that in the lead-up to Christmas, with all the work in the parishes and all the other ministries we are involved in, very little space for this attitude is afforded us.
May I suggest a couple of books which might help? "The Coming of God" by Maria Boulding which I recommended a few years ago, and Denis McBride's book, "Journeying towards Jesus in Advent" are both timely - and of course in the more immediate days leading up to Christmas, the Novena of St. Alphonsus.
All good wishes for our patronal feast on 8th December. This year it has a special flavour to it, as Charles Randall will be ordained to the priesthood in St. Mary's Clapham and will celebrate his First Mass there the following day. I know quite a few confreres will be able to be present, and I am aware that others will also keep him in their prayers. For me it is a moment of encouragement for our Province in having our second young priest ordained in the last year or so.
The ongoing challenge of vocations remains and the General Chapter, about which I’ll speak in a moment, stressed the need for every confrere to be involved in trying to offer our way of life to those who might be discerning a call.
I arrived back yesterday afternoon from one month of the canonical phase of the General Chapter in Thailand. The third phase will be held for us in the Conference of Europe in Kinnoull, in September when 35 confreres and our lay partners will be present.
I have been thinking for the past week how best to communicate the experience, the message and the decisions of the General Chapter. In some ways the responsibility has been minimised for me, -as I am enclosing a letter from the Conference Coordinator which will spell out some of the implications of the Chapter. I am also sending a hard copy for each community notice board as well as a hard copy to each one who does not use email. In addition, I am also told that a letter will arrive from Fr. General within two weeks - also on the subject of the General Chapter.
So I am slightly anxious about information overload. I'll therefore confine myself in this letter to a few salient points, and when I visit the communities in early January we will have the opportunity to hear more, raise questions and try and work out what are the implications for our Province and for each one of us.
Basically we elected a new General Government, and I am aware that our Province web site kept you up to date on what was occurring in Thailand. We effortlessly re-elected Fr. Michael Brehl as our Superior General on the first ballot, then elected the new General Councillors. The Vicar General is Fr. Alberto Eseverri (from Spain) who was a member of the previous General Council; Br. Jeffrey Rolle (North America) was also re-elected. The other members of the Council are Fr. Rogerio Gomes (Latin America and the Caribbean), Fr. Nicolas Ayouba (Africa and Madagascar), Fr. Sebastian Dato (Asia and Oceania) and Fr. Pedro Lopez who is the sixth Councillor and comes from the Province of Madrid. We wish them well in their leadership role.
I suspect you'll be asking three questions:
1. What was decided?
2. What about Conferences?
3. What is going to happen next?
I believe it would take too long to answer these questions in this letter. Basically the process of restructuring will continue, with both the Conferences and the individual Units being the ongoing instruments of implementing the changes mandated by the Chapter. We will look at our situation in the Northern Hemisphere in a special way and there are various structures proposed for communication, solidarity, the role of our Brothers, our partnership with lay people, ongoing formation and our lives as Redemptorists.....and all of this "to a wounded world" in the words of Cardinal Tagle. Cardinal Tagle from the Philippines gave the capitulars a two day retreat and spoke about the wounds of Christ and how these wounds remain in our world today.
Since I was involved in the final days with the message of the Chapter - refining it and getting it down from six pages to three, I enclose this also - although I stress that this is an unofficial edition of the Message; but I believe it is a good message.
As I have already said I am not sure this can be communicated well on paper, and so we will have the opportunity to talk about it and perhaps even arrange a Province symposium.
In the meantime I will see several confreres in the next week as we have OPC, EPC, Finance Secretariate, Formation Secretariate, Redemptorist Publications Trustees’ meeting - and of course Charles's Ordination and First Mass.
I am writing separately to each Superior to arrange dates for a visit by the OPC during the second week of January. I suspect that some follow-up visits may also be necessary.
Advent is a time of hope and I trust that after the General Chapter, despite the natural anxiety and questions we may have, the message of the Chapter will be received as a message of hope for our life and ministry in the coming sexennium.
Birthdays this month: Br R. Price 5th , Fr T Moyo 12th , G. Hama 15th , Fr A . Johnson, 16th , Br C. Randall 16th , Fr J . Smale 23rd , Fr C. Mukabva 26th.
I wish everyone a very blessed Christmas and thank you all for your dedication and zeal. I wish to offer a special and public thanks to Fr Michael Henesy and Br Mike Duxbury for remaining in Hawkstone way beyond the time limit we had envisaged. I hope they will get a good break in the early New Year.
In Christ the Redeemer,
Ronald J. McAinsh, C.Ss.R.