January 15, 2020 (Meeting of the General Government with the Major Superiors)

Jan 16, 2020 | XXVI General Chapter

The morning prayer was prepared and animated by the Major Organisms of ASCLA East.

At 9:00 the session begins. Henry Omonisaye wishes everyone a happy and fruitful day of work. We begin by reading the Gospel passage from the parable of the sower according to Mark 4:1-9 and by praying together from Nos. 46 and 48 of Missionarii Sumus. Henry Omonisaye encourages everyone to remember the work session that took place yesterday, 14th, and to situate the new day in this line of discernment and reflection. The videos of the life and mission of the Major Organisms of East Asia and Indonesia-Timor Leste are being shown.

Gonzalo Fernández presents the objective of the session of this day, inviting everyone to go to the six groups formed previously – not by Conferences – with the participation of the members of the General Government, and briefly recalling the path taken so far:

  • identifying some diseases,
  • listening to the calls from the world and from the Church.

All day long we will be working on the most important point: the seeds of life. Gonzalo Fernández begins by offering a methodological explanation. Detecting illnesses is fundamental. The language of God, for a missionary Congregation like ours, is the calls.

Today it is a matter of taking a further step: to discern what positive seeds God has planted in the soil of the Congregation and in each one of us. This means paying tribute to God who always does things well. God, who has called us to this missionary life, has also given us everything we need to be good missionaries. Gonzalo recalls a text – Matthew 13, 24-30 -: the parable of the wheat and the tares. When you look at the life of the Congregation you see the good seeds, and you see the bad seeds. The great temptation is to cut off the bad weeds as soon as possible. Jesus invites us to a historical patience. It is up to us to cultivate the good seed. Purisms have led to great failures in the life of the Church.

Gonzalo dwells on the methodological explanation of what was done yesterday and what is going to be done in the present session today and in tomorrow’s. In this new way of approach, it is a question of looking to the future and starting from what is already working well in the Congregation. It is necessary to know how to continue investing the good human and congregational capital. Tomorrow the central point will be God’s dream and what the Congregation dreams. It is therefore a question of a qualitative and narrative approach (not so much a quantitative one).

This approach requires a change of paradigm: a new mental metabolism in our collective journey. It is about learning how to transform into energy the many and good resources that the Congregation has. It is not so much a matter of detecting the deficits we have. This path that is offered to us is a grateful and reverential song to life. It is about detecting what factors generate and provide life. In this form / appreciative inquiry it is about discovering what contains life and what enhances life in our Congregation. It is even about a change in language and vocabulary: with language we create reality.

Gonzalo Fernández presents and proposes the first exercise. It is a matter of each one reflecting individually and making a small dictionary writing down which expressions / words we use more frequently in the exercise of animation and government as Major Superiors.

After the exercise, Gonzalo invites us to become aware of the interaction of these three elements: personal strengths – the strengthening of local communities – the strengthening of institutions.

This approach is a process of transformation and a path that promotes change, that increases strengths until they become habits, that promotes growth, generates enthusiasm and motivation. Its essential verbs are: to appreciate, to inquire, to dialogue. Gonzalo stops at each of the verbs with some examples and images:

  • – Appreciate: the ability to value the best of people and the environment; to affirm the strengths of the past and the present; to perceive the things that give life to living systems, to increase the value of something; to welcome, respect, affirm and appreciate. Do I have this gift as a Major Superior?

Gonzalo, exposes and proposes a second exercise to be carried out individually: when you look at the Congregation (not only your Major Organism) point out the three things that you most positively appreciate in the Congregation.

  • – To inquire: the capacity to explore and discover; to go into unknown territory; to go beyond what we know, control, our routines, our habits; and that implies the capacity to formulate questions that seek new possibilities (that are not questions of mere curiosity) and that force us to rethink things from other perspectives; the capacity to inquire, investigate, study.

Gonzalo, exposes and proposes a third exercise to be done individually: formulate the three questions that you would ask the members of your Major Organism with the objective of improving the life of your Major Organism.

  • – Dialogue: the capacity to communicate what we think, feel, perceive, to other people; the exchange of personal and collective points of view; the sharing of intelligence and wisdom (the capacity to live that we have acquired over time); the capacity to listen; the capacity to know others and let others know about us.

Gonzalo, exposes and proposes a fourth exercise: to share with the members of each group the answers given to the previous individual exercises (1, 2 and 3).

After finishing the exercise, Gonzalo offers a very quick review of the four competencies of appreciative inquiry that it would be convenient to keep in mind mentally:

  • – to develop an affirmative capacity (it is a spiritual and psychological task),
  • – develop an expansive capacity (which asks questions that widen the horizon to other perspectives),
  • – develop a generative capacity (that approaches the experiences and people that generate life),
  • – developing collaborative capacity (involving everyone, or as many as possible, including those who may be most problematic).

There’s a break at 10:40.

The session resumes at 11:15.

We are at the moment of “discovering the seeds of life in our Congregation”. Gonzalo Fernandez projects a video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IsF53JpBMlk) and, based on it, a time of work in groups is opened to share a fifth exercise:

  • what things have caught your attention in this exercise,
  • and in what way this video / this parable can illuminate / enrich the journey of preparation for the General Chapter.

Gonzalo stops a little more in the parable helping to realise the power of images and parables. Together they identify some aspects that can enrich the preparation of the General Chapter:

  • Group 1: not to ignore any person, how to achieve harmony with the participation of all the instruments, the recognition of the gifts and charisms of each one placed at the service of the whole, the score can be the search and the project, the value of the director in the search for that collective harmony and participation
  • Group 2: synodality and willingness to integrate everyone as much as possible (each according to his or her abilities), representativeness, how to make the General Chapter rich and attractive to those who share the journey with us, how to listen to the missing voices, what could be studied or prepared before arriving at the Chapter, light structures that do not weigh too much, capacity to listen and perceive what others may want to say, beauty is attractive, contagious, generates joy, enthusiasm
  • Group 3: the parable confirms us in the desire for a very deep spirituality of communion, of union, of collaboration, each person and his instrument, each one collaborates and contributes from his personal initiative, all have a centre (the score – the Gospel – the charism) and look to a director (the Holy Spirit) who gives unity to each and every one, more concert performers and spectators join the concert
  • Group 4: the previous preparation that is supposed to be before the concert and that means a desire to want to share, the vital development (from the simple to the complex), it is required the participation of all in a coordinated way (score and conductor), each one has something to do, it is important the participation of all, when there is collaboration and participation of all the beauty comes out,…
  • Group 5: The participation and collaboration of all (communion), the contribution from each of the individual experiences and skills, the sharing of the same spirit, what is important is the contribution of each one and the collaboration of all,…
  • Group 6: it is an image of God – the Owner of the vineyard who calls the workers into his vineyard to work -, the one who starts the concert is not the conductor, the musicians give the best of themselves, the fact that each one brings out the best of himself helps the others to bring out the best of themselves, what concerns everyone must be discerned by everyone, everyone must have a voice and a vote, the challenge is to seek how to involve and make everyone participate,…


Gonzalo calls the attention to the fact that the concert seen in the video is an open air concert (not in a concert hall) and asks about the possibility of opening some moments of the General Chapter (one or two days) to the Claretian Family, to religious women, to lay people, to other types of persons,…, in order to be able to hear other voices.

Gonzalo asks if little by little, and while we are entering into this discernment, it is beginning to be clear what type of General Chapter we would like, if we envision a different celebration of the General Chapter, if we are imagining what General Chapter we would like.

Gonzalo helps us to enter into the first systematic stage which is the stage of discovering signs of life that we find in the Congregation as a whole, in our Major Organisms, in the Local Communities. To recreate an appreciative attitude we read the Autobiography numbers 33 and 34.

Within the groups they are divided into pairs to begin the sixth exercise and share in 10 minutes (5 minutes each) around this question: what would you like to see happen in this meeting of the General Government with the Major Superiors.

At 12:10, and after the previous exercise, a few minutes of silence are left so that each one individually recapitulates what he has experienced during this morning by asking himself this question: what have I learned this morning that can help improve my life as a Claretian missionary and as a Major Superior? After this, the answer to the question is briefly shared in the groups, and each group is invited to elaborate a prayer motive for the community prayer around Mary.

At 12:20 there is a moment around Mary to recapitulate the work of this morning’s session.

The morning session concludes at 12:30.

The afternoon session starts at 15:30.

Henry Omonisaye welcomes the participants and invites everyone to pray with the proposal of the Claretian Year in the person of Eusebio Bofill and nn. 49 and 52 of Missionarii Sumus. And two new videos on the life and mission of the Major Organisms of Germany and Kolkata are projected.

Ezequiel Takaya informs and presents, on behalf of Domingo Grillía, the Claretian material, fundamentally pastoral, of the Claretian publishing house of San José del Sur.

We read the message of fraternal communion of Monsignor Leo Dalmao, previous consultor of the General Government and General Prefect of Formation, in which he reminds us, among others, of some important elements around the Claretian formation.

Gonzalo Fernández begins by recalling the stages of the appreciative inquiry – discovering, dreaming (imagining), designing (modeling), committing -, to invite everyone to continue the practice in this stage of discovery, addressing in new couples of two persons a seventh exercise of 20 minutes interview (10 minutes for each one of the persons) on these two questions:

  • What stories of important moments, what experiences of Claretian life have been very significant for you, have you been enthusiastic about? It tells one of the memorable moments of your Claretian experience in the Congregation over the years;
  • What initiatives do you think have been most successful in the past in helping and involving Claretian missionaries in the preparation of previous General Chapters?

After the exercise, Gonzalo introduces the next step – the eighth exercise of about 20 minutes – of our journey. In each group, and in a brief way (2/3 minutes), each one shares the story he has heard from the person he has interviewed. The group dialogues and chooses one of the stories heard (the one that the group considers the most significant of Claretian life) that the secretary of the group will later share with the rest of the assembly.

Gonzalo explains what will be the development of the last session of today, and encourages the groups to share briefly, and as a group, the answers to the second question – exercise nine“What initiatives do you think have been more successful in the past to help and involve the Claretian missionaries in the preparation of previous General Chapters?

There’s a break at 5:00.

The session resumes at 5:30 p.m.

Gonzalo explains the plan for this session. It is an exercise – tenth exercise – of narrative theology trying to listen to the secretaries of the groups (Juan Carlos Bartra, Luis Armando Valencia, Jose Thenpillil, Carlos Candeias, Francisco Carín, Elias Ayuban Jr.) telling the stories that the groups themselves have chosen as the most significant stories.

Gonzalo invites us to take a moment of silence after listening to the stories. The Gospels are particularly a collection of stories: things that happened to people in their encounter with Jesus. The atmosphere is different when we tell / listen to the stories. It also creates a different, special communion. This is an exercise. In our Congregation there are many stories. The narrative approach is being given more and more importance because of its transformative capacity and power: storytelling touches life and generates life. What stories can we tell to further deepen our congregational community?

Gonzalo invites the assembly to do an exercise – the eleventh exercise – to detect the seeds of life in the Congregation by taking into account the stories heard. The seeds of life are those realities that have given us or are giving us energy. This exercise is carried out in two stages: each group selects four seeds of life (if possible in a very brief way) for about 15 minutes and, in a second stage, the seeds are shared by consensus in the plenary session.

Seeds of life in the Congregation:

Group 1-Josué Gonzalez:

  • Prophetism (the option for the poor, justice and peace, the mission beyond borders,…)
  • Personal growth (people are continually growing in all dimensions).
  • Interculturality.
  • The capacity to re-invent ourselves (the charism is constantly alive and growing).

Group 2- Luis Armando Valencia/Pedro Belderrain/Marcos Aurelio Loro:

  • The generosity of the Claretian communities.
  • The feeling of family in the Congregation, the cordiality within.
  • The shared mission.
  • The hope.

Group 3-Lawrence V:

  • The brotherhood (keeps us together always).
  • The meaning and presence of God (which leads us to a divine self-transcendence and which also leads us to the poor).

Group 4-Carlos Candeias:

  • Learning from the poor.
  • The charism as a source of inspiration.
  • The journey together – the community.
  • Openness to the spirit – transcendence.

Group 5-Francisco Carín:

  • Universality and interculturality.
  • Belonging to the Congregation.
  • The experience of God.
  • The sense of family, of communion.

Group 6-Elias Ayuban Jr:

  • Fraternity and fraternal care.
  • Solidarity with the people and with those who live on the margins
  • The power of prayer.
  • The audacity.

There is a moment of silence to listen, without comment, to each of the words. From the experience we see the seeds that produce life.

Father General takes the floor and focuses on the paschal key of “suffering”, on the value of the presence of the brothers, on the need to create life on the margins, on the key of autobiography, of charismatic history… All these are seeds of life that make us grow and generate life.

The session ends with the prayer of Glory.

The evening Eucharist at 7:00 p.m. was prepared by the Major Organisms of ASCLA East and presided over by Elias Ayuban Jr.

It is announced that after dinner, around 9:00 p.m., the film in Spanish (with English subtitles) will be shown: “The Two Popes” (2019).


Father Joseba Kamiruaga Mieza CMF



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