On returning from our various visits during the months of December and January, we received news from several circumscriptions:
Netherlands and Algeria, visited by John Fogarty; Congo-Brazzaville, Cameroon, Central African Republic and Gabon, visited by Alain Mayama and the Turin and Palmarola communities in Italy visited by Joseph Shio. Bede Ukwuije took part in a meeting in Knechtsteden, Germany; José Sabença participated in an animation session in Portugal; Marc Tyrant went to Ireland and also took part in the European circumscriptions meeting. I myself visited Haiti and the Dominican Republic where I also had a chance to meet some confreres representing Puerto Rico. We also shared on the report from the Centre for Spiritan Studies meeting and the JPIC-VIVAT meeting which were both held in January.
You have already received some echoes of these visits in Spiritan News. You can well imagine all the information that we received, but most important was the sense of being in contact with the confreres in their missions and their daily realities. Thus we began our February-March session with renewed energy.
We have decided to set aside some meetings for reflection – about once every week – in order to see a little beyond the daily business. In this line, we took time to study carefully the decisions taken at Bagamoyo to find in them the tasks confided to the General Council. We also made quite a bit of progress completing the “animation plan” requested by the Bagamoyo chapter. Consultation letters on this have already been sent out and we hope to launch the plan on the 2nd of October this year. We are beginning to see more clearly how our visits to the circumscriptions, to which we have devoted much reflection and planning, are important elements for the realization of this plan. We are also preparing the next New Superiors’ Meeting of September 2013, with the animation plan in mind !
Another meeting we had was devoted to the theme of communications. We had a very useful exchange with Gaston Temgoua, the co-ordinator for this service in the Generalate House. We are looking for communications strategies adapted to our aims of animation and the means to be employed. We will come back to this theme.
Some themes and decisions:
• Confirmation of the election of Superiors in South Africa (Eugene Oguamanam) and Algeria (Raymond Gonnet). Two mandates were prolonged: Baptista Barros in Cabo Verde, until the next consultation; Martin Keane, in Kenya, up to their chapter in January 2015
• Confirmation of a second mandate for Jean-Jacques Boeglin as Assistant Secretary General. Robert Guéno will come to the Generalate next September to help in the services and in the reception.
• The financial report for 2012 was examined and approved.
• We contributed to the process of preparation for the sessions on the formation of formators which will take place in Yaoundé and SIST next July.
• Regarding the “safeguarding of children”, we decided to appoint a consultative committee to help the General Council go forward on this; the committee will meet in June.
• We took a similar decision regarding finances: the setting up of a committee to help the General Council implement the Bagamoyo decisions; it will meet in October.
• We dealt with the incardination, exclaustration or dismissal of several confreres
• We studied and gave our support to a project in the Reunion circumscription for the creation of the ‘Le Vavasseur Centre’ for Spiritan animation and spirituality.
• Alain Mayama compiled the list of requests received for mission appointments; he also helped us to establish the priority missions recognized as such by the Council and which have just been sent out.
• We examined the charter of the Union of Circumscriptions of East Asia.
• We are still looking at the question of specialized formation; we are thinking of having this formation based in several centres in different countries. Rome offers many possibilities which Bede Ukwuije gathered together and presented to the Council; the reflection continues.
• In the same vein, a new possibility has arisen in Duquesne for specialists in Spiritan sources who could do a one year placement there to deepen their research and also to do some animation on campus.
Rome and the world were moved by the renouncing of Pope Benedict and the election of Francis. Through visitors to the house, by letters and from echoes from other people, we have been able to hear what is going on in several countries, Churches and circumscriptions: Nigeria, Central African Republic, USA, Paraguay, Haiti, Zanzibar, Cape Verde, Cameroon, England, Uganda, Spain, Switzerland, Bolivia…and some which I have surely forgotten. Things are happening, both sad and joyful, and all this enriches our prayer life.
May I wish you a joyful and fruitful ministry as we approach Easter! Pierre Jubinville.