Spaichingen, Germany. As the Province of Deutschland begins its X Provincial Chapter today, we present an interview with the Provincial Superior of Deutschland, Fr. Callistus Joseph, CMF, during the preparation stage of their Chapter. The X Provincial Chapter of Deutschland is presided by Fr. Mathew Vattamattam, CMF, General Superior of the Congregation. It will run from today until the 12th of this month at the Dreifaltigkeitsberg House of the Province. The Chapter takes the same theme as the General Chapter with a bit of modification: “Being rooted in Christ and Audacious in mission in German-speaking Europe today.”
What are the initial preparations done, still in the process? What or how is the itinerary of the process going on?
The preparation of the Chapter started almost a year ago with the creation of five commissions to evaluate the Present situation of the Province, especially focusing on the Prefectures vis a vis the resolutions of the IX Provincial Chapter. The preparation for the General Chapter became very useful when different rounds of conversations took place at various levels. The commissions integrated the outcome of these conversations in the preparation of the reports.
It is during the Provincial Assembly in July 2021 that all members had the opportunity to continue our conversation as a Province. Each commission presented the outcome of their conversation at the community level, with our collaborators and among the commission members. At the Assembly, the conversation was inclusive of all the members. Fortunately, 38 of the 44 members of the Province participated in the Assembly.
This painstaking exercise was very useful. Commissions gathered again to include the points of conversation shared by all members of the Province. It became a more inclusive overview of all the members of the Province.
After the General Chapter, the commissions gathered again and integrated the Chapter Promptings to the report. The report of the government and the working paper are already sent to the Chapter members.
What is the uniqueness of this Chapter and the challenges in preparing it?
The uniqueness of this Chapter is that this is the first Chapter in so many years that the Chapter members are all in German-speaking Europe. Thus, the focus will be on our Life and Mission here in German-speaking Europe. This Chapter will be held in the German language. Earlier Chapters had members representing the Missions of Congo, India, and Sri Lanka. All these missions have become Major Organisms in the Congregation in past years.
The present pandemic made the preparation process very challenging. Aside from our Assembly’s time in July, all other conversations took place by electronic means. This was not an easy task for some members of the Province who are not accustomed to electronic devices.
Any connection or relevance of the recently concluded XXVI General Chapter to your Chapter?
The uniqueness of the General Chapter was the methodology used for preparation and the celebration of the Chapter. We followed the method of conversations at various levels. All the members of the Province had the opportunity to share their views on each of the topics discussed in the working paper. The working paper is not a work of only a few but all the members and has included the contribution of our collaborators. The Chapter members now have the responsibility to discern what God wants from us at the Chapter Hall.
With the celebration of the Chapter, how do you see the future of the Province?
We are uniquely placed in the Church with our missionary Charism. In Evangelium Gaudi 27, Pope Francis said the following “I dream of a “missionary option,” that is, a missionary impulse capable of transforming everything, so that the Church’s customs, ways of doing things, times and schedules, language and structures can be suitably channeled for the evangelization of today’s world rather than for her self-preservation.”
This applies to our Province very much today. We are in the Church not for our self-preservation but as missionaries to contribute towards the “transformation of everything.” We are the “missionary impulse” that can contribute towards the transformation of everything.
What are your hopes and dreams for the Deutschland Province?
I often think our Province is like the “New Wine now wanting new wineskins.” We have to humbly seek and shape these “new wineskins” as we allow ourselves to be transformed by the Word of God. New missionary horizons will have to be drawn with the missionaries assigned to the Province.
Having our missionaries trained here in Germany gives an added advantage. It is not only that they have had time to deepen their language skills, but they have also learned Theology as reflected today in the country’s present situation. I am confident that our young missionaries will discern the missionary responses we have to give today through our Charism for the transformation of the Church in German-Speaking Europe and the world.
Today, the Church in German-speaking Europe is going through many challenges. Without being absorbed in these troubles or standing aloof, we have the vital task of Proclaiming the Joy of the Gospel. The Word of God will transform us, our structures, and our systems, leading to new ways of living life in its fullness.
Interculturality is our mission today. As brothers coming from different parts of the world but inspired by the Gospel and our Charism, we witness the joy of living a Fraternal life. As we find in Fratelli Tutti, the call to live this fraternal life is an important Gospel, a call for the world that is becoming more and more multicultural.
Shared mission and collaboration with those people of goodwill committed to the world’s transformation is an urgent call for us. “Fridays for future” is a protest action of the young people in Europe calling for the Protection of the Earth. We wish to dialogue with the young people by presenting God’s dream of a common home as presented by Laudato Si.
We dream of continuing to inspire young people to be captivated by the Charism of our Founder Claret, whose main goal was the renewal of the Church and World through the Word of God.
“We overcome all fear of the new and unknown only by surrendering ourselves to the guidance of the Holy Spirit. I am sure this Chapter will make us audacious. Nothing will prevent us from spreading the fire of love that burns in our hearts.”