Nemi, Italy. September 11, 2021. The XXVI General Chapter of the Congregation has lived its last day. Although the Gospel proclaimed was taken from the account of Mark, the day had a strong Johannine tone: the capitulars experienced many more things, if only we had to give an account of all of them here?
The day was very intense. Before sunrise, a good number of capitulars already shared a time of adoration, prior to the praying of Lauds, entrusted today to the province of St. James. Sometime before, a good group of capitulars had already gone to a laboratory to undergo the tests that the pandemic has made mandatory for travel.
In an atmosphere of prayer, the capitulars reread together and meditated on the words that Pope Francis addressed to the assembly two days ago. Many hearts were touched at that first hour of the day, before breakfast.
The emotion was felt again in the hall when, after reading in silence the draft of the exhortation that the Chapter will address to the Congregation, almost thirty capitulars expressed the impression that the text produced in them and the joy of seeing reflected in it the path that major superiors and the General Government undertook together in Talagante (Chile) in January 2020.
The minute of silence and prayer with which the capitulars welcomed the news of the death of missionary Len Brown, of the Province of the USA-Canada, who lost three of his members in the last few weeks, was also moving. Both in the morning and in the afternoon, the Chapter fondly remembered the elderly and sick of the Congregation in its prayers. Also at a unique moment, Fr. Joseph Jeyaseelan, the superior of the major organism of St. Joseph Vaz (Sri Lanka), the only capitular prevented by the pandemic from traveling to Italy, greeted his confreres, now able to listen to their views and opinions thanks to the technology that has allowed him to participate online in almost all the life of the Chapter.
The most repeated word during the day was “gratitude”. At various times and in many ways the capitulars expressed their gratitude to the Lord, before doing so in the evening Eucharist presided over by Cardinal Aquilino Bocos. Thanks, above all, to God, our Father, who has allowed us to celebrate with such joy and fraternity a Chapter in times of pandemic, when so many are suffering and unable to travel. Thanks also to the General Government of the Congregation, which worked tirelessly to make the assembly possible and, without in any way diminishing security and prudence, gave priority to trust in the Lord. Thanks to hundreds of people who, by their prayer, their participation in the pre-Chapter conversations or their work, made the assembly possible. Special mention should be made of all the non-capitular Claretians involved, from Fr. Paulson Veliyanoor to those who worked in translation, secretarial work, logistics… A singular gratitude was, without doubt, expressed to Sr. Jolanta Kafka, RMI, Superior General of the Claretian Missionary Sisters, who accompanied us (despite her many tasks) during the whole month.
The annals will allow us to know the chapter resolutions, which reinforce the disposition of the Congregation to live more and more “going forth”, without dissociating contemplation and service, adoration and witness, and to live the joy of the Gospel. The assembly also spent several hours discerning how to share this with the confreres, how to live it in every place, how to make it a journey with the many thousands of people who accompany the Congregation throughout the world.
The homily of Cardinal Bocos and the closing words of the Chapter by Fr. Mathew Vattamattam were also rich and were ratified by the applause of the assembly, which rose to its feet. The Lord has been great with us, and we rejoice. In the words of Fr. Bocos, Father Claret passed away more than a century and a half ago, but his spirit is still very much alive in the world and in the Church.
The assembly, which opened invoking the protection of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, has returned one more day to set its gaze on her. The singing of the Magnificat, in one of the versions of the missionary Luis Elizalde, preceded in a few minutes the solemn act of the final signing of the chapter acts.