We began today with Fr. Greg speaking to the Assembly and all of the confreres in his last major address as Superior General. He thanked God for the blessings of the past 12 years and that he had much hope for the Congregation. As we celebrate 400 years since the birth of the Vincentian charism, he noted that our identity is simple: we are the Congregation of the Mission. We are international missionaries in an international community.
He called upon the confreres to reflect upon several things. Be faithful to our Constitutions, the virtues and what Vincent has taught us. He called for greater collaboration and solidarity among the provinces to enliven our missionary spirit, as well as with the larger Vincentian Family. He was pleased with the support for the international missions, and how all of those missions work hand in hand with the Vincentian Family.
Fr. Greg challenged confreres: “Let us get out of our own comfort zones, move forward and go to places where the Church needs us to respond.” He also called us to deepen our connection to Christ and to the poor through our prayer and service. He closed by asking what more must be done to collaborate in our shared mission? What can we dream to do? “My hope is that our focus not be on simply maintaining the status quo, but let us be more charismatic. Let us promote creativity, through which we can allow the Congregation to grow,” he said.
It was such a powerful address that the power went out in the building and the surrounding area. We then moved to another classroom building at DePaul to welcome Sister Kathleen Appler, the Superioress General of the Daughters of Charity. She assured the Assembly of the prayers of the Daughters and thanked Fr. Greg and the delegates for their longtime support and collaboration. Sr. Kathleen encouraged us to continue to be prophetic witnesses in the world and to challenge the Daughters to do the same.
After lunch, we remained in the classroom building since the power was not back. We were told that a transformer blew out and would take several days to fix, but hopefully we will be back sooner with a generator. However, the move meant that we no longer had simultaneous translation capabilities. The afternoon schedule was changed to minimize the need for translation. Presentations on interculturalization were provided by the provinces of Oceania, Madagascar and Puerto Rico. As they spoke in their language, members of the assembly were able to follow through their written texts.
All three presentations demonstrated how these provinces worked across cultural and national boundaries. As Douglas Akehurst, a confrere from Australia who passed away last year, said in their video: “We are a diverse group with different cultures but we speak the same language of charism. That is our common language.” The assembly then met in small groups to reflect upon how we can continue to grow in understanding how we work together across cultures and nations.
The day concluded with a dinner hosted by DePaul University. Let’s hope that tomorrow is less exciting!
Did you consider religious life? Did you consider becoming a missionary?