January 20, 2020 (Meeting of the General Government with the Major Superiors)

Jan 21, 2020 | XXVI General Chapter

The morning prayer has been prepared and animated by the Major Organisms of MICLA.

After breakfast, and before the morning session, the official group photo session is held.

At 9:00 Henry Omonisaye welcomes us to the working session of this day. We begin with the singing of “Your Word gives us life” and listening to the Gospel (John 15, 1-8). Henry invites us to take up again the reasons for communion and for staying with God to bear fruit. We recognize the importance of this communion with God, among ourselves and with others with whom we collaborate in this evangelizing mission. And we pray to God to continue to give us this gift, this capacity. We do so with the prayer of the Our Father and the Hail Mary.

Father General officially welcomes the two new additions to this meeting: Simeon Nwobi (Provincial Superior of East Nigeria) and WYD. Jeyaseelan (Major Superior of St. Joseph Vaz). The video on the life and mission of the Fatima Province and the USA-Canada Province is shown.

Father General takes up again the second process of transformation and, in particular, the theme of the Protocol of Minors and Vulnerable Persons (with which it had been concluded in the last session of 18 January), informing us of different aspects and moments of the Meeting “The Protection of Minors in the Church” from 21 to 24 February 2019 in Rome, in which he himself was invited to participate. In his intervention, and among other points, he stands out particularly:

The intervention of Father General has given rise to a dialogue between the Major Superiors exchanging experiences and criteria for reflection and action in respect. Father General is very grateful for the contributions expressed in the dialogue, and he insists on what he has already expressed: the most absolute need of responsibility, accountability, transparency, and of foreseeing and creating a culture of care and safe environments.

At 10:35 the session is interrupted.

At 11:00 the session resumes.

Carlos Verga presents the reflection of the communities with an interdisciplinary approach (following the chapter mandate of MS 70.5): it consists of 12 booklets, all of them in Spanish and English, in which different perspectives of the missionary life in community are dealt with, and in whose elaboration different persons of the Congregation have participated. They will be offered to the Congregation in the coming months through a digital archive so that each Major Organism can distribute them in the manner it considers most appropriate. Each theme consists of 10/20 pages, with exercises,…, trying to deepen the missionary life in the community. The themes are communities configured by the mission; the “oikos” community; the school community of disciples in mission; the prophetic and contemplative community; the liturgical, symbolic and celebratory dimension of the community; the practice of discernment in personal life and in the communities; leadership and organization of the community; the transformation of conflict in the community; forgiveness and reconciliation in the community; the celebration of life and mission in intercultural and intergenerational communities; the dream of being a community; the paschal mystery in the communities.

He also presents the online course for those who have been assigned to other places and for those who are interested in this topic. The course consists of five units (and they are: the joy of being a missionary, missionaries in the style of Claret, themes of culture and interculturality, intercultural Claretian communities in the mission, discerning the mission and walking in the spirit), and has been elaborated by various persons of the Congregation. All the materials will be in Spanish and English. Carlos presents and explains the objectives of this formation proposal. Each unit has a compulsory reading and other complementary texts (experiences, testimonies,…). In each week, some tasks are also collected in order to make an individual reflection based on some questions. There will be designated tutors who will accompany this formative itinerary (they themselves have been through this experience). The idea is to help us be aware of what the universal mission really means (both on the part of the one who is destined / as well as on the part of the one who receives). Therefore the course is thought and designed not only for the person who is destined but also for the Major Organism that receives the destined person. Some Major Organisms are going to be asked to elaborate and send a proposal of reception and accompaniment and insertion of the destined person in such a way that they can give the best of themselves in their new reality.

Father General raises the question of the criteria for sending and receiving missionaries in the universal mission, trying not to weaken the Major Organisms from which the missionaries are sent, and to strengthen the Major Organisms to which the missionaries are destined. Among other criteria, he cites, for example, maturity, intellectual capacity (ability to learn other languages…), discernment of authentic motivations (so that these are truly spiritual and missionary motivations), accompaniment in integration/learning… A dialogue is opened between the Major Superiors in this regard: the appropriate sending of documentation/reports, especially in the case of students, so that they can be helped effectively in their journey; the differences in the missionary needs of the Major Organisations; dialogue between Superiors on the accompaniment, the journey,…, of the persons assigned; the reception of students in international formation centers; etc. The theme has given rise to some proposals more directly related to some demands and needs in the area of formation in general.

In this regard, Father General pointed out some important issues, such as assignments are missionary destinations to revitalize the evangelization of the Major Organisms; the need to qualify/prepare/send formators; the always open possibility of sending missionaries among the Major Organisms to study/know/deepen in the place some pastoral experiences; the accompaniment/understanding/dialogue/fraternity with the assigned persons; the need to share the proper information in the assignments to the universal mission; etc.

Within the third process of transformation – “worshippers of God in the Spirit” – Joseph Mbungu-Mutu shares some elements of the General Prefecture of Formation as:

  • the present moment of the realization of the new General Formation Project (its electronic sending is foreseen towards the month of February 2020, then the printed edition will be realized);
  • the School of Formators of the Heart of Mary in Spain (with a number of 20 participants in this next edition in English, and which has two parts – one part online and the other in person);
  • Carlos Verga completes and details the information about the existence of a digital library of books that will be available for the use of the formation communities (particularly thought of for those formation centers that have less access to certain books that are especially important for formation);
  • the collaboration with the General Prefecture of Economy (Manuel Tamargo details what refers to a course, directed to the formandi in order to know / to deepen the theme of the economic resources and their individual and community management, with two modalities: one online in 2 years, another in presence – in 4 weeks – always with a total of 120 hours. This proposal will begin in the year 2020 with a trial edition in two formation centers in different latitudes of the Congregation, and then it will be opened to the rest of the formation centers of the Congregation);
  • the JPIC Manual for those who are in formation (this is a project that is still being defined with the help of the JPIC Secretariat).

After the presentation, there will be a time for interventions and dialogue on some topics, such as:

  • the process to be followed in the incardination of the Claretian missionaries in the Major Organisms to which they are assigned,
  • the revision of the formation projects in such a way that the Students continue to grow in the necessary experience of God,
  • the contents of the online mode of the trainers’ course,
  • the necessary continuity of initial and continuous training,
  • the necessary key to the holistic accompaniment of the formandi and of all missionaries in general,
  • the need to carry out training work in a team,
  • the performance of theological studies in diocesan or other academic centers,
  • the due updating/concretion of the future new General Plan of Formation in the areas of the Conferences / Major Organisms,
  • the need for quality training (and not just content/intellectual dimension),

Manuel Tamargo reports on some elements of the General Prefecture of Economy: the course of economic management with the help of the University of Batatais (Brazil) and offers, in this regard, the statistics of the students from the first year (March-December 2018) to the fourth year (September 2019 onwards).

Also on the third process of transformation, Gonzalo Fernandez offers information on some topics of the General Prefecture of Spirituality:

  • the animation of spirituality in each of the Major Organisms and according to different formulas/modalities,
  • the “Claretian Year” project which has three instruments – the book, the web page, the application for mobile devices -, and the calendar that has been followed in this regard (the French edition will be delayed a little longer than the Spanish and English editions already made),
  • the “Encounter with Claret” (an activity that was carried out in previous years and that is resumed in this year 2020) taking advantage of the various Claretian events within the present year, with the objective of knowing more about Claret in order to follow him better, and which will take place in three editions (French, English, and Spanish) welcoming 20 Claretian missionaries in each one of them,
  • the project of the “150th anniversary of the death of Claret” which will begin on January 25, 2020, in Chile and will end on October 24, 2020, in Vic (Spain), and which contains many different significant activities,
  • the short meetings – five days long and already established in their dates and places – with the Prefects of Spirituality by ECLA, ACLA, ASCLA Conferences (those of MICLA met during the last meeting of the General Government with the Governments of the Organisms of that Conference, in December 2019 in Colombia) to try to study and reach a consensus on how to better coordinate the action of spirituality,
  • the possibility of designing and preparing a shorter modality – for example of two weeks – of the “Encounter with Claret” aimed at the laity.

Father General informs that it will be necessary to deal with the subject of vacations particularly in the case of those Claretian missionaries destined from one continent to another, in such a way that he and his Government can offer some common criteria and norms for the whole Congregation and that they can help the Major Superiors in the discernment that they have to carry out in their respective Major Organisms. In this regard, he asks three questions:

  • What is your experience in organizing vacations in your Major Organism?
  • What challenges do you find in the organization of vacations in your Major Organism?
  • What two or three suggestions do you make to organize/standardize the subject of holidays in your Major Organism?

Henry Omonisaye presents this afternoon’s schedule:

  • at 15:00 the meeting will be held by Conference to share the echoes of what was heard and said during the afternoon of Saturday and this morning, and to formulate possible questions and topics to the General Government;
  • from 16:30. to 17:00 there will be a break;
  • from 17:00 to 18:30 a session will be held to share what has been discussed in the Conferences and to reach a consensus on the final and conclusive message to the Congregation as a result of this meeting,
  • at 19:15 the Eucharist will be celebrated.

Before finishing, Henry invites us to have a few moments of silence to remember and welcome all that was said and heard during this morning session. After that, the work of this morning is concluded with the prayer of the “Angelus”.

The session ends at 12:55.

Carlos Verga welcomes everyone, and offers each Conference the possibility of sharing for 5 minutes his answers and reflections on the questions that Father General had asked about the vacation and, more concretely, about the suggestions to be made on this subject:

  • ACLA: points out the need to create/adopt measures according to the circumstances of each congregational context.
  • ASCLA East: points out the convenience of seeking and finding some common points for the whole Congregation. It also alludes to the fact of taking into account the economic situation of each country and the personal situation of the Claretian missionary (and his family) at the moment of offering vacation money.
  • ASCLA West: refers to different modalities (vacations every year for one month, every two years for two months). Each Major Organism should discern and decide on other elements (amount of vacation money, etc.).
  • ECLA: refers to the need to recall what our documents say on this subject (especially the Directory) because these criteria are still adequate; to recall also our condition as religious and missionaries – vacations should not be considered from the perspective of rights; in the case of some regulation on this subject by the General Government, we should mention why the subject is of interest. Our style of life cannot be separated from the majority of people in our social contexts and countries. This topic is one that calls for a dialogue in the communities and even, at times, for provincial discernment and decision. In any case, we should invite all the Claretian missionaries to moderation and austerity.
  • MICLA: points out the convenience of having a general orientation in this respect; a time of rest is important for each Claretian missionary and for his community; sometimes we use the word “vacation” in a too mundane way. Not everyone has the “luxury” of having and enjoying a vacation. One can also count on being able to visit other Claretian communities when one does not have relatives. It would seem that, in principle, one month would be enough. It is not possible for the General Government to decide how much money to give for the holidays. This is a matter of the Government of each Major Organism since in the Congregation there is a great variety of circumstances and contexts. It is also important to consider when the vacation is taken. These should not be detrimental to the pastoral activity on the spot. It would be necessary to reflect on what we understand by “vacation” as religious and missionaries.

Father General appreciates these reflections made by the Conferences and believes that they will be points to take into account in his discernment with the General Government.

Father General also asks for other opinions:

With regard to a new foundation in the Peruvian Amazon, assuming hypothetically a Vicariate, it is said in one intervention that it would be convenient to make a more detailed discernment and, for example, to learn from the other places where the Congregation has already made a similar commitment or, for example, to consider the possibility of collaborating with other religious institutions, such as, for example, in South Sudan).

Father General shares with those present that the Conferences are important in the dynamics of our Congregation because they strengthen our identity and missionary contribution to the Church in the various continents. Also because the Conferences are a possibility of sharing and collaborating in the different thinking and working in networks.

Father General shares with the Major Superiors the theme of the books and documents to be preserved both in the Government of the Major Organism and in the Local Communities. It is a subject to which he gives due importance and relevance also because it has a historical transcendence. Among other things, it points out the convenience/necessity of a printed edition of the Major Body’s Bulletin that can be filed in the General Archive.

Father General asks for criteria of discernment on the convenience or not of a facilitator, not necessarily a Claretian missionary, in the General Chapter. Some comments on this subject have been the following:

  • the experience has been positive in the Assemblies that have been held in a Major Organism because the facilitator (not a Claretian missionary) has helped in the listening and in the dialogue,
  • the experience of a Claretian facilitator in the Chapter of a Major Organism has been positively valued,
  • it would be convenient that, if a facilitator is present, the process starts from the beginning with the methodology proposed by the facilitator (it is not only a question of the facilitator being at the Chapter but of helping from the first moment of the preparation),
  • could be positive also because perhaps the Congregation is repeating a model of Provincial Chapter during the last forty years,
  • if there is to be a facilitator, it should be someone who is familiar with and, better still knows the Congregation well (its charismatic, religious and missionary nature, its history, its practice, etc.)
  • if the presence and intervention of a facilitator were to occur, it would be better if it were a Claretian missionary,
  • the presence and intervention of the facilitator is not necessary,

Father General collects and appreciates the opinions that have been expressed. Taking into account that the facilitator does not direct or preside over the Chapter but collaborates and works with the President and the General Government to carry out his work of facilitating the Chapter process, Father General said that these opinions will be taken into account in the discernment that the General Government will have to make in this regard.

Father General asks for discernment on the proposal of Animaset (which reached the General Government from the intervention of the Province of Catalonia). For this purpose, Gonzalo Fernández briefly presents the proposal in question: it is a matter of building a congregational web page in which the main Claretian places of the world can be visited virtually, 8 specifically, by creating some videos of a few minutes duration each one of them, of viewing with fixed cameras, of geo-location, of guides for the pilgrims who visit those places, etc. In short, the idea is to centralize in a single website a modern and quality presentation available to anyone. The proposal could reach, between some expenses, an amount of 50.000 / 60.000 euros. Bearing in mind that it could be done in different ways, the Major Superiors are asked to give their opinion on the matter, that is to say, if they consider it convenient, necessary, opportune, viable, etc.

Some of the opinions have been the following:

  • it is a proposal that can unite the whole Congregation with the sources of our charismatic origin and, even if the budget turns out to be high, the benefit is great,
  • seen the project from the periphery, it is an interesting project, in order to know and to make known our heritage and patrimony,
  • since the idea is a good one, it would be necessary to evaluate more carefully whether or not it is convenient to add this project to the current project of Father Claret’s film, because of the economic cost involved,

Father General is grateful for the interventions. Being an attractive project, carried out by competent and qualified people, with new technologies, he reminds that everyone should be involved and collaborate in this congregational project as a sign of communion. The ideas formulated will help the discernment that the General Government will have to make in this regard.

Gonzalo Fernandez offers some information about the present moment of Fr. Claret’s film. At this moment, the project is in the phase of editing and production. In March it is foreseeable that the General Government will be able to see a considerable part of the result of the editing. For the moment, economic collaboration (fundraising) has had very little success. Gonzalo asks that this project be spread among friends/collaborators by reminding everyone that “many few do much”. The film will be released in Spanish, English, and German. The possibility of subtitling it in some languages is also being considered. The existence of a bank account for the express purpose of fundraising is recalled.

Artur Teixeira reminds those present to submit to him, those who have not yet done so, the response to the consultation made by the General Prefecture of Apostolate on the digital continent.

Manuel Tamargo informs those present that he will return to Rome tomorrow because this time of year is particularly intense as far as the presentation of last year’s financial statements and this year’s financial budgets by the Major Organisms is concerned.

At 17:45 the final message prepared by the commission formed by Francisco Carín, Pedro Belderrain, Jude Thaddeus Langeh was readout. The latter reads out the proposed text in English. After the reading, a space for dialogue is opened with indications and suggestions.

The text prepared and proposed by the commission is approved because, in this way, it is understood to be a text faithful to what has been lived in this meeting, and the commission is asked to gather some proposals/suggestions in the final drafting of the text:

  • to make a balanced reference to the liturgical (and prayer) moments and to those of recreation
  • there has not been, as such, direct and explicit contact with the socio-political reality of the host country;
  • to gather the image and reality of the 150 years of the “young vineyard” (which was the reason for having chosen Chile as the place of the meeting);
  • eliminate the express reference to Pablo Neruda and speak instead of a cultural visit (in reality, this is what Sunday’s visit to two different places was);
  • to expressly include a mention of the Council of Spirituality that will take place from the 21st to the 25th of January, following this meeting.

At 5:55 pm Father General proposed to make the final evaluation of the meeting, proposing these questions:

  • What have been 2 / 3 things that have been beneficial in this encounter for your experience as Claretian missionaries and Major Superior?
  • What have been 2 / 3 aspects that could be improved in this type of encounter?
  • What is your general impression about the encounter that has taken place and some suggestions for the future and for other encounters of this style?

After a few minutes of individual reflection, it is shared for another few minutes in each group/table to then open space for exchange and dialogue of the echoes and resonances:

First group. The group believes that the meeting reaffirms the richness of the Congregation that we people are, the pastoral and spiritual richness of the Congregation, the accompaniment of the brothers. It points out some words that have been “key”: discernment, communion, hope, encounter, friendship, solidarity, and synodality. As suggestions, the group proposes to dose the information from the Prefectures of the General Government throughout the days of the meeting (for example an information/presentation on each day). The group thanks the General Government for the accompaniment and dynamism of the meeting.

Second group. The group thanks the meeting and makes a remarkably positive evaluation of each and every one of its aspects: the assertive language, the fraternal atmosphere, the experience of congregational communion,… As aspects to be improved, the group points out the convenience of helping the two translators with the presence of a third one; having more time to deal with the final matters; the convenience of having had statistical information of the congregational reality; the care of the liturgical signs. The group feels that we have learned to speak in metaphors

Third group. The group is grateful for the communion, collegiality, the effort made in communication, the hospitality of the Major Agency; the group also thanks the General Government for its work during these days; The group is also grateful for the atmosphere in the room, the fraternal meeting, the perception that the General Government is working as a team, the methodology of the group that has facilitated the dynamics of sharing, the thought of those who could not be present at this meeting and the communication with them regarding the details of the journey of this meeting, the possibility of thinking about the illnesses of the Congregation and the charismatic metanonia. As a suggestion, he proposes to have been able to facilitate from Rome the processing of visas (as was done, for example, on the occasion of the Meeting on Solidarity and Mission in the perspective of JPIC that was held in Guatemala).

Fourth group. The group positively values the experience of communion and life at all levels, the methodology because of what it has meant in terms of participation and synodality, and because it has allowed for the liberation of energy, enthusiasm, life, with a view to the future. There is in us a desire to go beyond, to risk being rooted.

Fifth group. He mentions as positive some realities of this meeting such as, for example, the cordiality, the simplicity, the experience, the commitment to life, the commitment, the family, the fraternity, the hospitality, the welcome,… All this has great significance for mysticism. He is grateful for the many and different support tasks, the inculturated liturgies, the work of the facilitator, the translation of the materials, the attitude of the General Government, etc. In order to improve, the group points out the connection of the wifi, greater interaction with the General Government, the need to dedicate more time to the other topics and the convenience of doing so, in addition, throughout the days of the meeting.

Sixth group. The group expresses its gratitude for this methodology, for the organization of the meeting by the host Province, for the hospitality, for the testimony of the General Government as an example of communion and of teamwork. If we want a paperless General Chapter, this will necessarily require a good internet connection. On the other hand, we have seen too quickly some tenas that interest the whole Congregation.

Gonzalo Fernandez suggests the convenience of reserving a space of time each day (in an analogous way to how the presentation of the videos of the life and mission of the Major Organisms has been carried out each day) to go dosing other congregational themes and not to go accumulating them for the little final space of the meeting.

Father General positively highlights the beautiful place, ecological and natural, the fact that we have learned to live in such a place without a perfect internet connection, the fact that we have managed to live with energy, enthusiasm. He thanks the Province of Saint Joseph of the South for the favorable disposition and positive attitude, from the beginning, to hold this meeting in Chile. To these words, those present gave strong applause to Mario David Gutiérrez and, in his name, to all the host Province. We are also grateful to the friends and brothers who have collaborated in the development of the meeting by translating and in other ways. In this way, Father General said, a charismatic mystique was achieved which motivates.

At 18:30 Father General read out his final message (previously sent to the participants in Spanish and English). Warm applause closes his speech.

Mario David Gutiérrez informs us of the planned timetable and of some other topics in view of our presence and participation in the Congress of Spirituality:

  • tomorrow, Tuesday 21, the prayer is individual, the breakfast at 07:00, at 07:30 it is the trip to Santiago, at 18:00 it will be the Mass there, at 19:00 the return to the Claret Centre, at 20:00 the dinner;
  • from Wednesday 22 to Friday 24, the Mass will be first thing in the Claret Centre and will continue with the timetable from breakfast;
  • the presence of 140 participants in the Congress of Spirituality is expected (with delegations of the Major Organisms of MICLA, with the presence of members of the local communities of San José del Sur, with the participation of some members of the Claretian Family, etc.,)
  • it is recommended to carry the passport or other identification.

At 18:40 the encounter ends.

At 19:15 the Mass is celebrated, presided over by Father General and concelebrated by the Provincial Superiors of Sanctus Paulus and San José del Sur.


Father Joseba Kamiruaga Mieza CMF

General Secretary

Picture Gallery of the Meeting:


[envira-album id=”70876″]

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