Every six years, the Congregation of the Brothers of Charity holds a General Chapter. We will try to shed some light on this event by means of a few questions and answers.
What is a General Chapter?
A General Chapter is a meeting of the Congregation’s Administration with delegates of the Brothers from across the globe to evaluate the past six-year period, to elect a General Board, and to establish the guidelines for the next six years.
How many times has the Congregation held a General Chapter?
In 2018, the Brothers of Charity will hold their 23rd General Chapter, which will take place at the General House in Rome from 2 to 20 July.
How many brothers will take part in the Chapter?
In addition to the 11 members by right of office (Superior General, General Assistants, Provincial Superiors, General Secretary, and General Bursar), 20 brothers will be chosen from the Provincial Chapters: 4 from Europe, 10 from Africa, 4 from Asia, and 2 from America, in proportion to the number of brothers per province. So, in total, the General Chapter consists of 31 participants.
What is the General Chapter’s theme?
The theme for the General Chapter of 2018 is: ‘Be radical in prophecy as consecrated men in the mission of charity’. This theme contains three movements.
First, it implies that all brothers are prophets in the world and openly bear witness to the Gospel in word and deed. This will be emphasized differently in every culture. It will be addressed differently in a secularized environment than in a predominantly Muslim environment.
Secondly, brothers are called upon to live their consecrated life radically, with passion and joy. This requires constant spiritual renewal through a profound prayer life in order to live truly for God and God alone.
Finally, brothers are sent in the service of charity. It is about letting God’s love shine in the world, and particularly in the lives of the poor, the sick, and those who live on the fringes of society due to disability, sickness, or poverty.
Do associate members participate in the General Chapter?
Associate members are invited to participate in the substantive part of the Chapter. To this end, we are expecting 6 associate members: 2 from Europe, 2 from Africa, 1 from America, and 1 from Asia.
How is a General Chapter prepared?
The theme is prepared and established by the General Board together with the Provincial Superiors. It will be discussed and studied in depth per region as part of the first round. The decisions made there then go to the provincial level where it is discussed further in order to come to a number of decisions and proposals that are presented before the General Chapter. Also during the Provincial Chapter, the delegates are elected per province.
How does a General Chapter work?
During the first week, an evaluation of the past period is made based on the report drawn up by the Superior General, the General Assistants, and the Provincial Superiors.
The second week starts with the election of the Superior General and the Vicar General. After the election, the activities will be continued and the theme will be discussed.
This time, the revision of the Rule of Life is on the agenda. This revision is necessary because the Congregation is now active in different cultural areas. Any adjustments must be submitted to the Holy See for approval.
Finally, the other General Assistants are elected and the decisions of the Chapter are formulated on the basis of motions that are put to the vote. It falls to the Superior General to formally promulgate these motions for the entire Congregation.
How can you help prepare the General Chapter?
Many brothers and associate members are directly involved within their own region. However, all are invited to pray for the success of the Chapter. We want to offer you the prayer that was put together for this occasion, asking you to pray with us every day.