The day started with a special celebration of the Eucharist during which we remembered and honoured Saint Benedict of Nursia, the patron saint of the European province, and also Bro. Pierre Caubergh, a Belgian brother who passed away yesterday.
Bro. Venance Kapita gave an extensive introduction to the theme ‘Be radical in prophecy as consecrated men’, the second part of the chapter theme. He systematically covered the various items that were indicated in the chapter document and he presented an overview of what the different provinces had brought forward. After an introduction on what our commitment as religious means, as a radical experience of our baptism, he successively treated the importance of a deep spiritual life as the basis of our commitment, the formation of members, the way that we can live our vows in today’s world, the quality of our community life, leadership style, the care for older confreres and brothers facing difficulties, the place of associate members in the Congregation, the concern for sustainability in both our community life and in our apostolate, the openness towards new candidates, and the advisability to adapt the Constitutions.
With this abundance of topics, the discussion groups were started up to come to an outline that will be presented to the plenary at 5 pm.
Again it was a rich plenary, in which a number of sentences continued to resonate. As Brothers of Charity and associate members, we are called upon to remain faithful to our charisma, and therefore to continue to place all emphasis on an intense prayer life. It is from a deep spiritual life that we can come to a life in harmony. Or as Vincent emphasized so strongly: there must always be a unity between our prayer, our community and our mission. The adage must remain: first God, and the rest must follow from it.
We must continue to let ourselves be touched by concrete signs of God’s love and therefore remain astonished.
There is diversity in the congregation: let us view this as an opportunity and a challenge and not allow ourselves to be blocked by it.
Special attention is requested for the care of our older brothers and brothers in difficulty. Let us never forget that we have a collective responsibility for them.
The associate members grow in number and ask for more clarity about their place in the congregation. It is not so much about more structures, but more about substantive guidance, training, encouragement, as a group of associate members and together with the brothers and the religious communities. Also, the associate members feel the sense that they are “consecrated” in the broad sense of the word, from the baptism they experience together with the religious brothers.
This evening the associate members present had a meeting with the general superior, during which a very fruitful exchange of views arose about how one experiences himself as an associate member in the different places.