The 3rd session of the General Council was the shortest of the year. It started on 6th May and ended on 14th June 2013.
It was an opportunity to put together our experiences and impressions from the circumscriptions we visited during the months of March and April: John Fogarty(Australia/Papua New Guinea, Pierre Jubinville(Canada-UCNAC meeting and Trans-Canada), Bede Ukwuije (Nigeria-UCAWA and USCN meetings), José Sabença(Brazil-UCAL meeting and Bolivia), Marc Tyrant(Philipines-UCEAS meeting, Taiwan-Vietnam Chapter) Alain Mayama(Guyane Chapter, Congo Brazaville-Enlarged Council), Joe Shio (France- Language Course).
The visits to circumscriptions had great impact on our perceptions of the realities of the Congregation. This made some reflections and decisions easier and more concrete.
We finalized the Calendar of the official visitation of the circumscriptions for the next eight years. It was a difficult exercise. We hope that all the circumscriptions will welcome it in the normal spirit of Spiritan hospitality.
We fixed the Animation plan for 2012-2020. It is one of the mandates of Bagamoyo. The plan is meant to cultivate in us the attitudes which were at the centre of our concerns in Bagamoyo. It is in four stages based on a re-reading of our Rule of Life: Spiritan identity and vocation, the Holy Spirit, Community life, Mission. We already advanced the preparation of the first section which will run from 2 October 2013 to 2 February 2015. We were marveled and encouraged by the number of responses and contributions from confreres whose advise and services we solicited. We are grateful to them.
We also finalized the program for the meeting of new superiors coming up from 17-26 September 2013.
We published the Guide for Spiritan formation. The electronic version was sent to all confreres who are connected to the web. The paper version will soon be sent out. It is destined to all confreres.
We dedicated a lot of time to reflection on the formation of formators according to the spirit of Bagamoyo. After exploring the possibilities offered by Pontifical Universities in Rome, we purchased a house that will be specifically for Spiritan students doing Specialized Studies and Formation of formators. Since it has limited spaces, the modalities and conditions for access to it will be specified during the next months before its opening in February 2014.
We also finalized preparations for the Course on Spiritan Studies for formators in Anglophone West Africa(SIST, Nigeria) and Francophone Countries(Ngoya, Younde), all to take place in July 2013.
Another big assignment we accomplished was the distribution of Cor-Unum. We are very grateful to the different circumscriptions for their generosity. We thank them also for understanding our efforts to imitate the miracle of the multiplication of loaves in the context of limited resources.
We decided the publication of the English translation of the Biography of Poullart des Places by Joseph Michel. The translation was done by Vincent O’Toole. We thank him for the sacrifice. We are also grateful to Centre for Spiritan Spirituality (CSS) Duquesne for the collaboration
We dedicated time to reflection on the consolidation of fragile missions. The visit of Gabriel Myotte-Duquet, Superior of India offered us the opportunity to deepen the reflection on our mission in India. While measuring the increasing mission opportunities and contextual difficulties, we become more and more aware of the lack of personnel. We continue to search for experienced confreres who can take up mission in India and other places that require special attention, like Pakistan, Algeria and Mauritania.
News from Central African Republic preoccupied us all through the session. We remained connected with the Superior, Patrick Mbea and all the confreres.
The meeting of Young Confreres on mission appointment in Europe, attended by Alain Mayama, gave us an opportunity to reflect on the integration of young confreres in their areas of mission appointment, especially in Europe and America.
Part of the joy of a council is to see confreres accept responsibilities for the service of their circumscriptions. We appointed João Baptista Frederico de Barros as Superior of the District of Cape Verde and Pat Palmer as Superior of Taiwan-Vietnam. We confirmed the elections of Joachim Njoku as Superior of the District of Guyane and John Louis Dimba as Superior of Malawi International Group. We prolonged the mandate of Raul Viana as Superior of the International Group of Mozambique until the election of the next superior.
We commend to God some attitudes that we would like to see transformed in the Spiritan family: the sense of belonging to the one family as indicated in the Superior General’s Pentecost letter, accountability and internal cohesion in the circumscriptions. We are worried about the number of confreres who write directly to the Superior General or the Councilors to expose their personal problems without passing through their major superiors and councils. We encourage all confreres to respect the normal process of dialogue in the Spiritan family.
As we sat in Council for the evaluation of the session, we all had the sentiment that the time was short. However, going through what we were able to achieve, we felt like Jacob: “God was there and I did not know”(Genesis 28:16). We are grateful to God “whose power, working in us, can do infinitely more than what we can ask or imagine”(Ephesians 3:20. We thank also all the members of the Generalate community for their collaboration. Our best wishes go to Harado Alves who went back to Brazil after serving in the Generalate as Procurator to the Holy See.
As we disperse to different circumscriptions for meetings, visits, chapters, enlarged councils and vacation, we pray for the protection of the Holy Spirit.
Bede Ukwuije CSSp