Dear Confreres and Spiritan Lay Associates,
Warm greetings from the Generalate in Rome.
It is now four weeks since the new General Council arrived in Clivo di Cinna to take up its responsibilities and formally assume the mandate entrusted to it by the General Chapter in Bagamoyo. The handover from the former Council took place from September 12 – 20. The transmission of the various dossiers and portfolios, together with a series of presentations on the service of leadership in the context of contemporary Spiritan life and mission, quickly provided an indication of the magnitude of the challenges we face over the coming years.
This process also served to underscore the enormous debt of gratitude we all owe to Fr. Jean-Paul Hoch and the members of the previous Council for their dedicated service of leadership and their inspiring witness and commitment over the past eight years, which we in the new Council can only aspire to emulate. All have now left Clivo di Cinna and our thoughts and prayers go with them as they continue their Spiritan mission in different pastures after a period of well-deserved rest.
Last week, October 1-6, the new Council took some time together at the Paulist Retreat House in Tor San Lorenzo at the coast to pray, to share our individual stories, our hopes and expectations, and to try to shape a common vision for the years ahead. In the light of the discussions and decisions of the Bagamoyo Chapter, we agreed on a number of focal points for our service of leadership:
- The importance of deepening the sense of belonging within the Spiritan family and of the collective ownership of our missionary commitments and our common future.
- The essential role of animation/ongoing formation and the need for creativity in this regard in the knowledge that documents alone, however inspirational, have not been a very effective means of change and conversion.
- The vital role of communication – between the generalate and the circumscriptions and within the circumscriptions themselves – availing of modern technology but also keeping in mind that many of our members still do not have internet access where they live.
- The need to give special attention to fragile circumscriptions, particularly those whose very survival is in question. This will involve strengthening the sense of co-responsibility within the Congregation and promoting a greater culture of availability for worldwide Spiritan mission in the spirit of our founders.
A number of clear priorities were also set for the weeks immediately ahead:
- The finalization and circulation of the text on Safeguarding Children and Vulnerable Adults prepared by the previous Council and discussed and amended at the Bagamoyo Chapter.
- The completion of the revised Guide for Spiritan Formation in the light of the amendments proposed and agreed at Bagamoyo.
- The editing and translation of the General Chapter Documents in preparation for circulation and the submission of the relevant sections to the Congregation for Consecrated Life for the required approval.
- The preparation of a text and a tentative program for General Council Visitation outlining its aims and purposes and a proposed methodology in the context of the Council’s role to oversee fidelity to the Spiritan charism and to promote unity throughout the Congregation (cf. SRL 193), in collaboration with the circumscription superiors.
- The assignment of Mission Appointments for confreres who will complete their initial formation within the coming year.
Our time together as a Council will be limited over the coming months as we attend to the necessary and demanding task of language learning. Frs. Bede Okwuije and Alain Mayama left on Sunday, Oct. 7 to begin an Italian language program in Assisi and they will be joined shortly by Frs. Joe Shio and José Sabença. So, our journey together in the service of the Congregation has begun!
As we entrust ourselves to your prayers we also invite you to continue to share with us your thoughts, reactions and suggestions through the Congregation’s website (www.spiritanroma.org) or Facebook page (cssproma) as together we embark on the challenge of shaping our collective future in fidelity to our charism.
John Fogarty, C.S.Sp.