The General Chapter has asked me to continue in the service of animating the life of the Congregation as Superior General for the next six years. I am sincerely grateful for the trust that the members of Chapter have shown to me and I hope that both they and all of you will accompany me during this new six-year term with your prayers, your brotherly love and your understanding, such as you have done over the past six years.
Most of you know me well. You know what I can offer and you also have seen my many limitations. I repeat what I told you six years ago when I was entrusted with this responsibility for the first time: you can count on my time, my energy and everything that I can give of myself in the coming years. I feel your presence and have experienced your affection and love for the Congregation in the fraternal embraces given to me by the members of the Chapter who are here and represent all of you.
In the Profession of Faith ceremony, I chose the same reading that guided our prayer at the beginning of the previous six-year term: Mt 18:1-5. This passage of Matthew’s Gospel, which is part of the catechesis on community that Matthew offers us in chapter 18, expresses those attitudes that Jesus says are necessary for Christians to make their community truly a sign of the Kingdom. As the disciples were arguing about who was the most important among them, Jesus did a very beautiful gesture. He called a child and put him in the middle of the group. Jesus accompanied his gesture with words, but the gesture already spoke clearly enough. The community capable of expressing the newness of the Kingdom is that in which the “little ones” occupy the centre. They feel welcomed, accompanied, respected and loved. I dream of a Congregation that lives this newness of the Kingdom and collaborates with others to create a society where this newness is also a reality.
I assume the governance of the Congregation in continuity with what has taken place during the last years. I have received a precious legacy from Fathers Gustavo Alonso and Aquilino Bocos. There has been a continuity of teaching and animation during these last sexenniums that has helped our Congregation to grow along a prophetic line and which I would like to continue. Gustavo and Aquilino: I express to you and we express, again, our sincere thanks. I ask that you remain close to us who must take charge of the governance of the Congregation in the coming years and that you help us in the discernment of our decisions with your experience and wisdom.
I must express my sincere thanks to those who have been the most immediate partners in the governance of the Congregation during this past six-year term: Frs. Rosendo, Vicar General, Vicente, Domingo, Marcelo, Gonzalo, Mathew and José-Félix. I am witness of your love for the Congregation and your generous commitment to our brothers through the services that have been entrusted to you. The positive assessment of your work that we have done during this Chapter supports this expression of gratitude. Thank you all. This is also an expression of thanks that extends to all the staff of the General Government and all the Major Superiors. I am well aware that providing a good service to the Congregation is only possible when there is a strong sense of co-responsibility in Government.
The Chapter must continue its reflection during the coming weeks to identify those orientations that should guide our lives over the next six years. Let us be bold and generous in our response to the call of God that we perceive at this time. Why should we be afraid when the Lord has promised to be in the midst of those who gather in his name and to send the gift of his Spirit to those who are willing to follow that Spirit? Are we not sons of She who proclaimed with her life and her word the greatness of the Lord who is always faithful to his covenant? Let us allow ourselves to be guided by the words of the Magnificat, a song in which we discover a wonderful synthesis of the features of a prophetic spirituality, which houses the word, is transformed by it and proclaims with conviction and daring the message of salvation. Let us overcome those fears that are born from our inability to say a resounding and confident “Yes.” Let us look to the Founder and be truly “Claretians.”
I am in profound communion with all of you: bishops, priests, permanent deacons, brothers, students and Claretian novices. Thank you for your affection and your prayer, which have accompanied me during the previous six-year term. I am grateful for all your words of encouragement and also those of criticism as well as the many suggestions that I have received during this time. All of them are a beautiful sign of Claretian fraternity and have helped me to offer better serve.
I would also like to express my gratitude to the members of the Claretian family and to so many people with whom we are deeply linked through friendship and communion in the mission. Let us strengthen this communion in the service of our mission of evangelization.
We are sons of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. To her maternal love I entrust the ministry commended to me. May we all be inspired by the person of our holy Founder and be encouraged by the example of fidelity given to us by the martyrs of our Congregation, on whose liturgical feast day we began this General Chapter.
I trust in your prayers and I promise you mine.
Rome, 24 August 2009
Josep M. Abella, cmf.