Four times a year, Superior General, all Assistants General, Econome General and Secretary General hold the special meeting of the General Council called TEMPO FORTE. Approximately week long sessions are taking place in March, June, September and December. A day of retreat is prior to the meeting. During the session some major topics and issues regarding current situation and development of the Congregation of the Mission are discussed. Here is the Superior’s General circular letter summarizing the recent Tempo Forte session held in 1-7 June, 2014 in Rome:
Rome, 1 July 2014
May the grace and peace of Our Lord Jesus Christ be forever in our hearts!
This is a summary of our June Tempo Forte meeting. We began Sunday, June 1 with a retreat for ongoing formation. Fr. Matthew Kallammakal, Assistant General, shared a reflection on the vow of obedience as part of our quarterly meditation on the Constitutions. It was well prepared and well received, and will be featured in the September issue of Vincentiana.
General Assembly 2016
Our first matter of business dealt with the 2016 General Assembly. We are carefully bringing together different responsibilities, including developing a list of confreres to serve as simultaneous translators during the assembly. We will have four official languages. At this assembly: English, Spanish, French, and Italian.
We reviewed the status of reconfiguration efforts in the provinces of Italy. The Visitors of the Provinces of Torino, Rome, and Napoli, along with their Councils, submitted a series of questions to which we were able to respond. Our hope is that these three provinces will come together as one province prior to the 2016 General Assembly. In 2015, their next provincial assemblies will be done together, after which they will have a final assembly early in 2016, before the General Assembly. At that time, provincial norms, a name for the new province, and a process for electing a Visitor and Council to govern the newly reconfigured province will be decided. We also spoke briefly about the status of efforts for reconfiguration taking place in the provinces of France, Spain, and CLAPVI-North, (which includes provinces in the Caribbean and part of Latin America).
Office of Communications
We received a report from Fr. John Maher, Director of Communications. Fr. Maher informed the Council that the new website for our International Missions was completed and is active. Fr. John Freund and Mr. Thomas (Toma) Zielinski worked with Fr. Maher to make this site an appealing one with current information on the various missions, and to highlight activities of our confreres serving in the International Missions. Our hope is that this new website will help younger confreres and members of the Vincentian Family to become more familiar with the International Missions. The web link for this site is: http://gospel-joy.org
Fr. Maher proposed that when the “Ratio Formationis” is completed, it be published in one volume, using the three main languages of the Congregation. The General Council agreed, and decided that following this edition will be another comprised of commentaries by confreres on the aspects of the Ratio Formationis. Fr. Maher also noted with pleasure the arrival of Fr. Jorge Rodriguez, Province of Colombia, to serve as assistant director in the Office of Communications.
SIEV, CIF, and VSO
We approved a list of the new members for the SIEV Board who will have their first meeting in Rome October 6-8, during Tempo Forte. They are: Corpus Juan Delgado from the Province of Zaragoza; Nelio Pereira Pita from the Province of Portugal; Neil Hoffman from the Province of Slovakia; Dan Borlik, representing the CIF program in Paris; Andres Motto from the Province of Argentina; Vinicius Teixeira from the Province of Rio de Janeiro; Franciscus Eko Armada from the Province of Indonesia; Jean Rufin Mokelo of the Province of Congo; Javier Alvarez, liaison with the General Counsel, and Agus Heru, the archivist and librarian at the Curia.
We received a report from Dan Borlik, director of the CIF program, and Adam Bandura, sub-director. They noted that a new CIF program was held in Paris from April 25-May 18 for confreres engaged in popular missions or ‘missions ad gentes’. Its theme focused on the ‘new evangelization’, and effective ways of conveying it through the Vincentian charism. Eighteen confreres from thirteen provinces attended, from all continents where the Congregation serves. At twenty-two days length, it was slightly less than the usual month-long program. It included a pilgrimage to various Vincentian historical sites around Paris, the Berceau in Dax, and Lourdes. After reading and learning about evangelization from official church sources and documents of the Congregation of the Mission, participants were asked to make a presentation on their own missions, provincial projects, and plans, and other sources from their dioceses and countries.
We received a report from Fr. Miles Heinen, director of the Vincentian Solidarity Office. He and his associates, Teresa Niedda and Scott Fina, reported that VSO activity and fundraising efforts in the last three months netted $416,854 USD. One alert: there is only funding left for five more micro projects, so donations to help these projects continue are needed and should be sent to the Vincentian Solidarity Office. On a related note, I offer my special thanks to Father Sy Peterka of the Eastern Province, USA for once again contributing greatly by raising money for the different VSO projects. The beneficiaries of these efforts by the VSO were the provinces of Ethiopia, Slovakia, Mozambique, Madagascar, Nigeria, the COVIAM mission in Chad, and mission work done by the Provinces of the Orient, Southern India, and Colombia.
Systemic Change Commission
We received a report from Fr. Giuseppe Turati, new coordinator of the Commission for the Promotion of Systemic Change, who informed us of a recent planning meeting at the General Curia between the outgoing coordinator, Fr. Robert Maloney and new Executive Secretary, Mr. James Claffey, who will work with Fr. Turati. Their plans include a workshop for the Province of the Philippines with on-site visits to projects of the province and the Vincentian Family.
Union of Superior Generals
We received a report from the Superior General regarding the recent meeting of the Union of Superior Generals. Included among the many things they discussed were reactions to the November visit with the Holy Father; a presentation from a married couple in preparation for the Year of the Family; a presentation on facilitating and carrying out canonical visits; and a preview of plans for the Year of Consecrated Life, which begins in 2015. The opening of the Year of Consecrated Life will be November 29, 2014 with a vigil, followed by the Eucharist on Sunday, November 30, the first Sunday of Advent. The closing will be February 1, 2016 with the celebration of World Day of Consecrated Life on February 2. Among the events planned, include an ecumenical meeting of consecrated life in January, a seminar for formators in April 2015 and a workshop for young consecrated men and women in September. At the start of 2016, there will be a week celebrating consecrated life worldwide. Information can be found on “Vidimus Dominum”, the website of the Union of Superior Generals. The link is http://vd.pcn.net/en/
Education Collaboration Efforts
We discussed a new education project between the Congregation of the Mission and DePaul University (and hopefully other universities affiliated with the Congregation). It involves setting up collaboration between the universities and high schools sponsored by the Congregation. This will provide educational opportunities and cultural exchanges for young people of various nations, enriching and expanding their understanding of the Vincentian charism from high school through college, while providing an opportunity to study abroad. While this project is new, a similar program has already been pioneered by DePaul University for several years. Our hope is to join with them in expanding this wonderful project to help our young people better know and live the Vincentian charism not only in school, but also throughout their lives.
Mission Distribution Fund
In regard to economic matters, we completed our funding allotments for the annual mission distribution fund to help support emerging provinces, international missions, and three Visitors’ Conferences in their projects of ongoing formation.
With regard to the international missions, we received a report from El Alto, Bolivia. Fr. Aidan Rooney, the Superior, noted that each of the three men there is committed to remaining in this mission for at least three more years. He noted they are looking forward to welcoming in September a new confrere, Fr. Janez Cerar of the Province of Slovenia. The confreres in El Alto shared a community retreat with confreres in the mission of Cochabamba. In 2015, they will do the same but will be accompanied by the Superior General as he visits the mission. As for the mission in Cochabamba, we received a brief report from the Superior, Fr. David Paniagua, who shared his health difficulties, and asked for prayers as he discerns his future in this mission.
In the mission of the Solomon Islands, they are expecting Fr. Varghese Ayyampilly, a confrere from the Province of Southern India, He was the mission superior for a number of years in Tanzania, and was a pioneer in that mission of the Southern Indian Province from its start. In Papua New Guinea, there is a new missionary, Fr. Neil Lams from the Province of Oceania. He will work in a mission station in Papua New Guinea, as the confreres discuss their strategic plan for the mission for the coming years. We also announce the departure of Fr. Jude Lemeh of the Province of Nigeria from the mission in Papua New Guinea. I thank Fr. Jude for his generous years of service in Papua New Guinea. He worked in Bomana, PNG as a parish priest while serving as an assistant to the superior for the mission. As Fr. Jude returns to Nigeria, I am sure that he will continue to live the missionary spirit of the Congregation back in his province, and by his example, encourage other young confreres to serve in the international missions.
We also received news that two Polish confreres, Fathers Slawomir Szucki and Marcin Wrobel, are preparing to go to Papua New Guinea and will arrive July 2015. We also announced the departure of Fr. Jean-Pierre Mangulu Mobonda from the mission in Tunis, who will return to his Province of Congo. In his place will be Fr. Narcisse Djerambete from the Province of Paris, who currently serves in Cameroon. He is from Chad, and speaks Arabic, French, and English. Narcisse is joining the mission in Tunisia with Fr. Firmin Mola Mbalo, Superior of the mission.
I am happy to announce the appointment of Rindo Karippai from the Province of Southern India, who has volunteered as a missionary in the Province of China. In the international mission of Puntas Arenas, two new missionaries have arrived. Fr. Angel Ignacio Garrido Santiago, from the Province of Madrid was formerly a missionary in Madagascar and Cuba. Fr. Margarito Martinez Gonzalez, from the Province of Mexico, has served the Hispanic community in Los Angeles, California, USA.
I am also happy to announce the three confreres who will open the new international mission in Anchorage, Alaska, USA to serve a Hispanic community of over 30,000 people. Up to this point, the main pastoral agent has been a Daughter of Charity. The confreres are Fathers Julio Cesar Garcia Hurtado and Pedro Nel Delgado Quintero, from both the Province of Columbia, and Deacon Arnold Hernando Rodriguez from the Province of the West, USA. Once the confreres from Colombia have their travel visas, the Alaska mission will begin.
We also received offers from confreres volunteering for part-time ministry in the international missions. Fr. Vincent O’Malley, Eastern Province, USA has volunteered to teach at Holy Name Seminary in the Solomon Islands one semester a year, as has Fr. Antony Punnoth of the Province of Southern India. We are investigating this possibility and coordinating the specific details with the confreres working at Holy Name Seminary in the Solomon Islands.
We discussed matters relating to the Vincentian Family, reviewing a proposal of the Superior General outlining the creation of an international secretariat for the Vincentian Family, which will be separate from the current office in the General Curia in Rome. The General Council met with Fr. Jorge Rodriguez, sub-director of the Vincentian Family office to discuss the relationship between the Congregation of the Mission and the Vincentian Family. This was done with the hope to assist the Vincentian Family to eventually become less dependent on the Congregation, and to help them assume greater responsibility to bring the charism forward by including not only traditional family branches, but also other Vincentian groups who strive to live the charism.
Conferences of Visitors
We received reports from the various Conferences of Visitors, from CEVIM (conference of Visitors in Europe). Fr. Stanislav Zontak gave a report on their annual assembly held in May in Jerusalem, where they discussed ways of strengthening collaboration, such as the internal seminary and establishing a common theologate. Fr. Eli Chaves reported on an evaluation done by the Visitors of CLAPVI-South on their new project of popular missions, which is made up of a team of confreres from provinces in CLAPVI-South, including Argentina, Chile, Peru, and Ecuador. These confreres are enthusiastic to serve in these countries, as well as in Bolivia.
The Superior General gave a report on the meeting of the National Conference of Visitors of the United States. Fr. Ray Van Dorpe, Visitor of the Province of the West, was elected president of the NCV-USA. Although comprised of only three USA provinces, the Visitors believe it is important to continue as a conference because of the significant sharing that occurs among them. They are also involved in meetings of various committees of confreres with specific tasks who discuss their findings with the Visitors. Plans to observe the 200th anniversary of the arrival of the Vincentians in the USA were also discussed. It will be observed in 2016, a year before the 400th anniversary of the inspirational founding of the Congregation.
The NCV-USA also affirmed their long-term goal of reconfiguration into one United States province, but the Visitors acknowledged it would take time. The Western Province is still learning from its own recent reconfiguration. Thus, the Provinces of the East and New England will move forward in discussion of coming together prior to an eventual move to one province. The NCV also discussed collaboration, with not only committees for formation and vocation promotion, but an interchange of personnel among Niagara, St. John’s, and DePaul universities.
Finally, the NCV announced they have numerous English texts available of the translations of the conferences of St. Vincent de Paul for any interested confrere or province. There is an abundant number of copies available (almost 3,000!), and they are free of charge. The only expense will be to cover postage and shipping costs. If interested, contact the General Curia at firstname.lastname@example.org and your request will be forwarded to the appropriate office.
We closed our June Tempo Forte meeting by reviewing our calendars and coordinating our schedules for the canonical visitations, General Council, and Tempo Forte meetings through 2016. The Superior General will make his annual retreat July 1-7 at a retreat house of the Daughters of Charity in Italy. From July 13-23, he will be in Paris for a meeting and workshop for moderators of the Vincentian Marian Youth. For the month of August, he will be on vacation with his family and confreres in the United States. From August 30- September 8, the Superior General will visit communities of the Daughters of Charity in Korea and Japan, and visit our Filipino confreres who serve in Japan. From September 11-25, he and Fr. Stanislav Zontak will visit the Vice-Province of Saints Cyril and Methodius, hoping to visit the Ukraine, Belarus, and Russia, the three countries where the vice- province serves. From September 26-29, he and Fr. Zontak will visit the mission of Polish confreres in Kazakhstan to dedicate the first Catholic Church in that country to be so named after our Holy Founder, St. Vincent de Paul.
As I close this letter, summer has arrived in Rome. I pray that each of you will find the time in this summer season to reflect, relax, and recall with gratitude the gift and promise of your vocation as a member of the Congregation of the Mission.
Your brother in St. Vincent,
G. Gregory Gay, C.M.