Madrid, Spain. As the Provincial Chapter of Santiago begins tomorrow, February 23, 2022, we present to you our interview with the Provincial Superior, Fr. Adolfo Lamata Muyo, CMF. We asked him to tell us something about the preparations for the Chapter and his personal observations about it.
The Chapter will be presided over by Fr. Matthew Vattamattam, CMF, Superior General of the Congregation. And in keeping with the tradition of the Province, along with the presiding table, moderators will be chosen from among the capitulars to coordinate the dialogues and interventions in the hall.
What preparations have been made or are still in progress?
Due to the pandemic of COVID and the time pressure, since we anticipated the Chapter from the summer of 2022 to Christmas 21, given that Pedro Belderrain, our provincial, became part of the General Government, we have done much of the preparation through online meetings, except for the face-to-face pre-capitular assembly.
FIRST PHASE, prior to the precapitular assembly:
On the one hand, the communities have been asked, using the language of the General Chapter, and all the Claretians of the Province underwent a formation via Zoom and YouTube, given by those members of the Province who attended the General Chapter, a reflection on the weaknesses and diseases or weeds and the advances or seeds of life that have been germinating in this six-year period in their respective communities. We asked ourselves: What are the audacious actions that can make a difference in our Province that we would like to see realized before 2027? And some suggestions to make for the process of reviewing positions.
At the Pre-Chapter Assembly, one month before the Chapter, the reports of the different areas of government were made available to all the capitulars. For this purpose we have created a digital repository.
After a process of elaboration of several years, the Chapter can decide in the direction it deems appropriate.
On this occasion, due to the time pressure, there has not been any process of conversations with the laity of our positions with the missionaries in the communities, although it did occur in many of our positions at the beginning of the year for the General Chapter.
The numerous lay members of the teams and councils did participate in their contributions.
For this reason, an open consultation of the laity in our various areas (more than 100 people responded) was carried out by means of a form in order to make it possible to have a better understanding of the opinions of those who walk alongside us.
SECOND PHASE: From the Assembly to the Chapter
Based on the precapitular assembly, the following preparatory work is proposed:
1) “Conversations in community”: Although all the contributions of the communities will be available in a computer file, a commission elected in the precapitular assembly (3/4 members) will elaborate a document that synthesizes the most relevant contributions of the communities, in the manner of “conversations of the way”, the vademecum that was used as a reflection document of the General Chapter. This document will not only be available to the capitulars, but will be sent to all the members of the Province, even if they do not participate directly in the chapter, as preparatory materials for this common journey.
2) Work in groups: until the Chapter we will work in groups of capitulars with the purpose of advancing the work and to be able to take better advantage of the days of celebration of the Chapter.
After personal reading of the documents submitted, they will share their impressions in a heterogeneous group of capitulants (8 teams of 8 members). For the reading, there will be a reading grid of the documents and a series of questions that will be discussed in the group that corresponds to them.
The online collection of documents, conclusions, and minutes of the different groups facilitated the realization and follow-up of this pre-capitular work.
What is the uniqueness of this Chapter and the challenges involved in its preparation?
As we have had to delay the Chapter due to Covid from Christmas to February, we have continued working online anticipating some tasks of the Chapter, such as the presentation and evaluation of the reports of the areas of government and a document on the conversations of the communities. Virtual assemblies of the capitulants in January and February.
I believe that we have overcome the challenge of the limited time available and the difficulty of face-to-face meetings with the use of technology (digital repositories of chapter documents and the work of the groups open to the Capitulars, chat to share impressions, online meetings, etc.).
Is there any relationship between your Chapter and the XXVI General Chapter?
Fundamentally we will follow the outline of work of the General Chapter adjusted to a Chapter of 7-day duration. We understand our Chapter as being in tune with the dreams of the Congregation and incarnating them in our Provincial reality.
With the celebration of the Chapter, how do you see the future of the Province?
Our Santiago Province is a consolidated reality that forms part of a charismatic community, a congregation in progress, which our Father and Founder dreamed of as a “great work”. We are in a singular moment of our history, a time of grace, in which the Church urges us to act in synodality; she encourages us to let all voices resound chorally; and she is convinced of the urgency of creating synergies that revitalize our mentalities, attitudes, practices, and structures.
We are aware of our personal and structural limitations; but we also know that -through good discernment- new perspectives will open up for us that we do not yet perceive at first glance.
In our Province, the inversion of the age pyramid is a challenge: the average age of the Province is preponderantly high. It is no less true that: (a) most of our elders have transformed their longevity into a path of dedicated missionary life; (b) the province still has a consistent group of members, more than 70, in an officially active age and, for the most part, well prepared, with concerns, a spirit of work and creativity, as well as with the capacity to assume responsibilities; c) we are in a slow but sustained process of cultural transformation as Claretian missionaries from other cultures are sent to our communities; from homogeneity, we are moving to a multicultural model, and from this, we feel the urgency to open our minds and hearts to an inter-cultural world.
We have recognizable pastoral structures, with diversified apostolic platforms that give us visibility, help us to express our missionary identity and shape our sense of belonging to a well-defined apostolic body. Among us, there is also a strong ecclesial awareness and a sensitivity open to the concerns of today’s people, as demonstrated by our willingness to collaborate and serve the Church, as well as our desire to transform the world according to God’s plan.
A good number of our missionaries work in qualified and creative apostolic fields: they collaborate in the universal Claretian mission, are engaged in theological and anthropological research and offer qualified services in civil and ecclesiastical institutions.
We are reasonably well organized and have the capacity to ensure the maintenance of four elements of unquestionable relevance: a) the needs of our mission; b) the dignified sustenance of the communities and the absence of serious economic problems; c) the capacity to face extraordinary situations; d) the practice of internal and external communication of goods.
What are your hopes and dreams for the Province of Santiago?
Our Province of Santiago considers itself missionary, a pilgrim, and a sharer in the congregational dream of the XXVI General Chapter. It also desires to discover the dream that God places in our hearts so that we too may dream. Therefore, eager to respond to God’s will for our provincial community in the coming years, united by the Spirit that the risen Jesus sends us and impelled by the congregational motto “rooted in Christ and audacious in the Mission”.