January 17, 2020 (Meeting of the General Government with the Major Superiors)

Jan 18, 2020 | XXVI General Chapter

At 07:30 the Eucharist is celebrated, prepared by the Provincials of the ECLA Conference and presided over by Callistus Joseph. In it, the memory of St. Anthony Abbot and of the Venerable Mother Antonia Paris, Founder of the Religious of Mary Immaculate (Claretian Missionary Sisters) was recalled.

The session begins at 09:15. Henry Omonisaye welcomes everyone on this special day in which we need God’s imagination and fantasy to be able to “design” the future and the process we want to carry out to advance the objective we want as a Congregation. The song “When You Give Us Your Word” is sung and we listen to the Word of God (Luke 14, 28-32). We pray to receive the inspiration of the Holy Spirit with the prayer of the Our Father. We remember the Venerable Maria Antonia Paris and we do it from the motivation / reflection of the Claretian Year and by listening to a song about her person, life and mission.

A video of the mission and life of the Province of Peru-Bolivia is shown.

Gonzalo Fernández informs that today the chronicle is not read. It has already been sent to the whatsapp group of this encounter. Nevertheless, the journey made yesterday is recalled in order to be aware of the moment in which we find ourselves. Yesterday we tried to deepen what a dream means in the dynamic of personal and congregational transformation. Today we are entering the stage of “design”, closely linked to the next stage, that of “commitment”.

Gonzalo projects the images of an artist / draftsman – Agustín de la Torre – entitled “The Church I dream of” (https://www.religiondigital.org/humor_grafico_religioso/). We remember the images that were elaborated and presented in the last session of yesterday. From here on, we will continue working on this stage of “design”: to make the dream that was elaborated yesterday descend to earth in such a way that it becomes a project. How will this be done? In two stages.

The General Chapter in the Constitutions. The participants have already received in the whatsapp group of this meeting the constitutional text (nn. 153-156) in this regard. A first exercise is proposed: individual reading for about 10 minutes of what the Constitutions say about the General Chapter, making this reading in the light of the process followed so far during this meeting. Gonzalo asks this question for personal reflection: what type of General Chapter can I imagine, combining what the Constitutions say and what we have been discerning these days?

After this reading to “refresh” us and take care of what the Constitutions understand about the General Chapter, Gonzalo proposes a second exercise. It is a matter of each one taking an excursion through the room in which, master of “museum”, are exhibited the images of illnesses, calls, seeds of life and dreams that have been elaborated during the past days.

Gonzalo explains that there are two main sources of inspiration:

  • That objective: what the Constitutions tell us – essential reference point -.
  • The subjective one: that which comes from the discernment that has been carried out during these days.

In other words:

  • A synchronic source: stable at a given time – the Constitutions -.
  • A diachronic source: what we have been doing as an itinerary during these days of meeting.

A good discernment must be nourished by both sources of inspiration. This is what today is all about: putting the two sources of inspiration into dialogue in order to respond to the question: in what direction should we be setting the next General Chapter?

The road map for this has already been sent to the whatsapp group of this meeting. Gonzalo presents the remaining work for this and proposes the third exercise:

  • Choose the group’s proposal in relation to the project “Towards the XXVI General Chapter” (or any other title).
  • Each person shares “what attracts me most from this project or theme”.
  • Conduct a brainstorming session on the topic for about 10 minutes, trying to encourage bold ideas, seeking as many suggestions as possible, building on the ideas of others by representing them visually. It is advisable that someone in the group takes on the role of actively helping to provoke and create new ideas.
  • Create a STATEMENT OF ASPIRATIONS; that is, a paragraph or two describing what they are trying to achieve with this project or initiative, a descriptive statement of what successes will look like in the future. The Declaration is therefore written in the present tense and on the paper prepared for it.

There is a break at 10:30.

The session resumes at 11:00.

Gonzalo presents the forth exercise in which each group is asked to discern and agree on a statement of aspirations that is the fruit of their brainstorming. The idea is to write a paragraph or two describing what this project or initiative is trying to achieve. It is a descriptive statement of what the successes will look like in the future. Therefore, the statement is written in the present tense. It is a description that expresses what kind of General Chapter and what kind of preparation would have to be done for it. It is an aspiration, a horizon. The groups have about 20 minutes to agree on the statement and write it on a blank piece of cardboard.

Gonzalo explains the step to be taken once the groups have finished their work in this phase of the design using the image of design in architecture. What we are doing is a sketch or design about what kind of Chapter and what kind of preparation towards the Chapter. Presumably this statement has been echoed. Each group reads and presents its title and statement. Only the titles of each presentation/statement are listed below.

Group 1 (Carlos Verga): “Rooted in Christ, sowing life and hope

Group 2 (Pedro Belderrain): For the moment they have not found a title.

Group 3 (Yohanes Maria Vianey): “Walking in communion”.

Group 4 (Carlos Candeias): “Rooted and risky”.

Grupo 5 (Francisco Carín): “Nuestra comunión misionera intercultural”.

Group 6 (Elias Ayuban Jr.): “Charismatic metanoia”.

Gonzalo Fernández makes some methodological observations because we are in a workshop. This phase is often difficult because we are not used to transforming the energy of dreams into projects. In the light of the six statements, Gonzalo asks: which one(s) reflect more and better the lived process? Some first reactions are shared:

  • The statements could be put together.
  • The idea of being rooted and the image of the “compass” could encompass all the others.

Gonzalo offers his opinion. Perhaps the 2nd and 4th declarations are those that, from the methodological point of view, have collected more and better the itinerary followed until now. And he reads them aloud. The other groups have put interesting nuances although the allusion to the itinerary followed has not been so clear. A time of clarifying interventions and reactions was opened, keeping in mind that its main meaning is how to prepare the way towards General Chapter XXVI.

  • To gather together the two dimensions – those who share the same mission with us vocationally and those who work with us / for us in a paid way -.
  • To focus on a methodology more proper to narrative theology in which experiences are told (and not so much concepts, speculations,…).
  • That the statement be something that has to do with the whole life of the Congregation.
  • That the tone of the statement be one of enthusiasm and positivity, and that it generate energy.

Gonzalo informs that, before the afternoon sesión, the secretaries of the groups will meet to agree on and make a declaration – a synthesis that will gather the best of each and every one of the statements made. The assembly will address the proposal made by the secretaries of the groups and, once it has been agreed and defined, will focus on the projection and programming of the preparation of the Chapter itinerary.

At 12:10 the prayer around Mary begins, making a brief space of silence – “In you, Mother, we have put our trust” – based on the traditional Claretian prayer addressed to Mary. It is about keeping everything in the heart so that everything will mature with the necessary calm.

The session ends at 12:25.

The session resumes at 15:30.

Henry Omonisaye welcomes the participants and the prayer of Missionarii Sumus nn. 66 and 68 and the recitation of the Our Father are performed. The video on the life and mission of the Provinces of the Philippines, Polska and San José del Sur is shown.

Gonzalo presents the joint declaration of aspirations as agreed upon and prepared by the secretaries. Carlos Candeias reports on the text agreed upon and proposed by the secretaries of the groups, and which is the following

The text agreed upon and proposed by the group secretaries is:

DEEP-ROOTED AND BOLD. The participants arrive at the XXVI General Chapter:

pleased with the pre-chapter preparations, aware that they represent their brothers from many latitudes and peripheries,

  • happy with the collaboration of Claretians and laity to identify the main concerns and signs of vitality of the Congregation deeply rooted in the life of their various contexts,
  • centered in our charismatic roots and prophetic aspirations aided by the experience of the narrative process,
  • open to be enlightened by the Spirit and Word of God to continue the process of discernment and dialog,
  • ready, together with others, to take bold steps in the mission of the Spirit.

Rosendo Urrabazo presents the English version of the text which is not a literal translation.

Gonzalo Fernandez proposes 15 minutes of reflection in the groups to see if the proposed statement reflects, or not, the desire of the plenary, and to see if there are any other elements that need to be changed / removed / added. Each secretary will present at the end the reflection of each group:

All the secretaries are listened to in order to have an overall idea.

Group 1: The proposal seems basically good. In the title we should add the what for. At the end the expression “Missio Dei” should be added instead of “Mission of the Spirit”.

Group 2: The proposal seems basically good. In the title a what for is missing (in the line of group 1). The text lacks a reference to the question of communion with nature and the planet, a reference to Mary, adding at the end that the content should be understood as a shared mission (not as team work).

Group 3: Explain the important role of Mary. Also make explicit reference to the fact that in the process of preparation it will be accompanied by the prayer of all the communities.

Group 4: Some contributions are made basically around expressions / words: “inculturated” (instead of “rooted”), “affirmed” (instead of “centered”), “disposed” (instead of “available”) making explicit reference to Mary, “animated” (instead of “dipsuetsos”).

Group 5: At the end the expression “Missio Dei” should be added instead of “Mission of the Spirit”. The group makes some proposals, basically referring to the translation from Spanish to English. Community life is not mentioned. Besides the laity it would be necessary to expressly include the Claretian Family.

Group 6: Proposes some grammar corrections in the English translation. It would be necessary to recover expressly in English the expression, so loved and used by Pope Francis, of “audacity”, an audacity with hope. Other expressions should be included: “in the light”, …

After listening to the groups, Gonzalo opens the first space for interventions in the plenary. Some comments/suggestions were the following:

  • A change / modification / addition on “rooted and bold” should be left to reflect a little more on the title.
  • The English translation of the term “daring” should be corrected.
  • Use the first person plural in the document because it is more implicit.
  • On the English translation of the expression “in tune”.
  • On the contexts or, in English, “background”.
  • On the laity, Claretian Family, etc.
  • On the expression “inculturated” in the different contexts.
  • On the expression “detected or discerned”.
  • On the expressions “centred or affirmed”.
  • On the expressions “available or disposed” always adding, in any case, the expression “like Mary”.
  • Replace the expression “mission of the Spirit” with “mssio Dei”.
  • Contemplate expressly, at some point in the text, that the whole process be accompanied by the prayer of the communities.

After this first round of interventions the plenary validates the text as reasonably sufficient pending some changes.

At the end of the text, and understanding implicitly that it would be a matter of being rooted in God (in Christ, in the missionary charism,…) and of being bold in the face of or for the mission, it is decided to leave the title as it is “”rooted and bold”” so that it is the content of the following text that concretizes and explains the scope and meaning of the title.

Gonzalo Fernandez proposes to enter the fourth stage in such a way that, if not today, it can be finished tomorrow, the 19th, in the morning. We have the design of the preparation of the General Chapter and now it is time to enter into a project of preparation and, perhaps, of General Chapter. We are going to do the fifth exercise and, more particularly

  • Name of the project of preparation for the XXVI General Chapter (give it a title or name).
  • Read the written statement and take it into account for this plan.
  • Foresee the actions that can help put the declaration of aspirations into practice.
  • Make the schedule of actions from January 2020 to August 2021.
  • Identify the persons and groups to be involved in the process of preparing the XXVI General Chapter.
  • What factors need to be taken into special consideration for this process of preparation for the General Chapter to be successful?
  • How will the process be followed up? Who will do it? When will it be done?

The objective, says Gonzalo, is now: to make a project of preparation taking into account the discerned and consensual declaration of intentions. This project will be the proposal that the General Government (which is involved in this process during these days of meeting) and the Major Superiors will make to the whole Congregation. The work in groups begins at 16:40 p.m.

The session ends at 17:00.

The session resumes at 17:30.

Gonzalo Fernandez makes some methodological clarifications:

  • About the work plan for the next 45 minutes, which consists of continuing with the work started in the last session;
  • For the moment, we have the declaration of intentions but, to get there, we ask ourselves and reflect on: What actions, processes, in what time frame, with what people…, would we have to put in place – would we have to count on getting there?

The groups continue their work.

At 18:10 the first round of the groups is held to find out what stage of the process they are at. Tomorrow, at the beginning of the session, each group will present the fruit of their reflection. Gonzalo explains that, tomorrow:

  • We will reflect on the suggestions of each group and try to see the possible convergences.
  • Time will be left for the groups to tackle other issues that the XXVI General Chapter would have to deal with.
  • The secretaries of the groups will send what has been prepared in this fifth exercise in writing to the Secretary General.

Carlos Candeias informs that at 19:00 there will be a Via Crucis prepared and animated by the Major Organisms of ECLA.

Enrique Mascorro informs that tomorrow, the 18th, the Eucharist will be at 7:30 a.m.

Mario David Gutiérrez informs that tomorrow, the 18th, and after dinner (around 20:45) we will have a performance by a folkloric group of Chilean music and dance.

The session ends at 18:15.


Father Joseba Kamiruaga Mieza CMF

Secretary General


Pictures of the Meeting: [envira-album id=”70876″]

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