The “We are all Brothers” (Siamo Tutti Fratelli) group organized an annual meeting for all the Brothers living in Rome on the 25th evening at Comboni Missionaries' General House, Rome. The theme of the meeting was "Our experience of the Synod" in which the three General Superiors who participated in the Synod shared their learning and experience and there were about 60 Brothers from 15 congregations participated in the meeting.
The session began with a short prayer invoking the presence of the Holy Spirit and recalling the devastation that the recent wars brought on humanity and the participants prayed for peace in the world. Fr. Tesfaye Tadesse, the Superior General of Comboni Missionaries, welcomed the participants and wished them a fruitful session.
The participants were introduced congregation-wise, followed by the introduction of the Superior Generals of the congregations. The core group of “Fratelli Tutti” presented themselves with their mission and various activities that are being organized by them in particular the Formators Training Program held in September 2023. They too extended their invitation to those who are not yet part of the group.
The Synod on Synodality which took place in October 2024 on the theme "For a synodal Church: communion, participation and mission" saw the participation of three Superior Generals from the Brothers’ Congregation namely Bros Ernesto Sanchez, Mark Hilton and Fr. Tesfaye Tadesse. The purpose of the annual meeting was mainly to listen and learn from their experience of the Synod.
Bro. Mark Hilton, the Superior General of Sacred Heart Brothers, in his sharing, expressed that every faithful is invited to take part in the decision-making of the Church and he pointed out that the Church has made progress in moving from the parliament voting system to the discernment process during the Synod. He expressed that the complexity of the issues related to LGBRQ is not the same in different parts of the world. He added, “We can do well if we focus on Jesus and we can be models for fraternity”. He further narrated how Pope Francis was very much part of the Synod by narrating a few incidents that occurred during the Synodal sessions.
Bro. Ernesto Sanchez, the Superior General of the Marist Brothers, began his sharing by talking about the recent joint meeting of the 250 Superior Generals from the International Union of Superiors General (UISG) and the Union of Superiors General (USG). where the Brother Superior Generals found time to meet each other to discuss matters concerning vocation and more. He pointed out the role of Silence and the importance of the presence of the Holy Spirit during the Synod on Synodality and reckoned that the whole process of the Synod started with the 3-day retreat at Case "Fraterna Domus". He further noted that of the 363 members of the Synod, 75% were Cardinals and Bishops and 25% were Laities, Religious men, and women with voting rights. He recalled that a lot of changes have taken place in the synodal process compared to the previous synods.
Fr. Tesfaye Tadesse, the Superior General of Comboni Missionaries, focused more on the feedback process and the next working documents which are expected to come soon. With regard to the sharing of responsibilities in general, he questioned “Why are we afraid of sharing the responsibilities?”, “Why do we see each other as threads?” He added that there should be a joy in sharing the responsibility while Serving people. He touched upon the areas of Abuse of power, being authoritative and Clericalism which affects the daily life of the individuals, “If we cannot be in communion among ourselves, we cannot be living in Synodality.”
After the presentation of the three speakers, the participants were asked to form a group of five to discuss and share a few points which were reflected frequently in the presentation on the Synod. Having shared in the language groups, the participants proceeded to the Sharing session where the participants appreciated the three Superior Generals for their representation in the Synod and sought clarification on certain matters.
A few points that came out of the discussions were
Listen to the young ones in the community. Very often it is to the youngest that the Lord reveals new and better solutions. St Benedict, in his monastic Rule, invites the abbot to consult the youngest before every important choice (cf. Rule of St. Benedict III, 3).
Our Vocation is not very well understood, and neither it is promoted by us. So, we need to promote our vocation. We need to be present in many areas of the Church's activities so that our vocation will be known.
As Religious Brothers, we are already living in Fraternity, and we can be a resource for the Church which reflects on Synodality.
The questioning session ended with the final remarks by the presenters who urged the participants with the words of Pope Francis “to be witnesses to the Fraternal Life”. The meeting came to an end with a concluding prayer followed by a fellowship meal.