One of the many tasks of the General Superior of the Congregation of Missionaries Sons of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (Claretian Missionaries) is to officially visit all the houses and residences of the Congregation at least every six years during his term. In some circumstances, due to the vast number of houses worldwide, the task is delegated to someone who can visit them on his behalf.
This year, the General Government decided to focus on visiting the Claretian houses and members in Europe (ECLA Conference), since canonical visits were affected and were not carried out during the last sexennium due to the pandemic. Father General, Mathew Vattamattam, CMF, has already completed visiting the Province of Polska, which includes Poland, Belarus, the Czech Republic, part of Russia, and Ukraine. Fr. Pedro Belderrain, CMF, is visiting the Claretians of Fátima Province, which covers southern Spain, Portugal, and the United Kingdom. Bro. Carlos Verga and Carlos Sanchez, CMFF, are responsible for visiting the confreres in Santiago Province, including the central and western areas of Spain, Paris (France), Switzerland, and Russia. Meanwhile, Frs. Joseph Mbungu-Mutu and Manuel Tamargo, CMFF, are visiting the Claretians under Sanctus Paulus Province, which includes Catalunya and the Basque areas of Spain, the rest of France, and Italy. Lastly, Fr. Henry Omonisaye, CMF, is currently conducting the canonical visit to the Province of Deutschland, which includes Germany, Austria, and Switzerland.
The visitors normally participate in the house and members’ daily life, try to become acquainted with their aspirations and difficulties, listen to them openly, and thus promote all cooperation for the good of the Congregation and the Church. Plenary meetings of the community are held to foster unity and fraternity and to define and clarify the proper and particular mission of the community. The visits aim to strengthen the members’ joy in their missionary calling, inspire pastoral growth, and foster genuine relationships among the community. This aligns with the Congregational Dream of creating spaces for living together, accepting, and appreciating each person’s uniqueness in various communities, and promoting a fraternal lifestyle.
Normally, the Provinces would try to align some of their celebrations, taking the opportunity of the presence of the members of the General Government. For example, Fr. Mathew Vattamattam, CMF, joined Polska Province members in their Claretian Renewal Days. In Tenerife, Fr. Pedro engaged in various activities with the Parish, including meeting with Bishop Bernardo Álvarez to strengthen the connection of the Claretians with the Diocese. And sometimes, it’s pure coincidence. Certain Claretians are lucky enough to celebrate their special day in the presence of a visiting member of the General Government. Like during Fr. Henry’s visit to Mühlberg, he joined in celebrating Fr Alois Andelfinger’s 40th priesthood anniversary on May 21, 2023, together with the Provincial Superior, Fr. Callistus Joseph, CMF, and other guests. Fr. Alois expressed his joy, saying, “It was a wonderful celebration, and I am grateful beyond words.”
Undoubtedly, the other General Prefects had similar experiences and participated in similar events in their assigned areas, which we hope to share soon through this medium.
At the end of this year, in December 2023, all the members of the Provincial Councils of all the Major Organisms of ECLA, together with the General Government, will gather in Vic, Spain, to conclude the canonical visits in Europe just like what they did in Asia, Africa, and America in the past years.