32nd GENERAL CHAPTER: (APRIL 8 TO 28, 2018) CLOSING MESSAGE: 28.04.2018
As we come to the end of the 3 weeks we have lived together as brothers and as delegates of our entities making this historical event of the 32ndGeneral Chapter a celebration, as envisaged by the Code of Canon Law (CC 631), I feel confident to call this Chapter an “unqualified” success for more reasons than one. As I reminded you all in the Inaugural Message, quoting from our Constitutions, “The General Chapter is a sign of UNITY and CHARITY (C 157). As we look back at the days we have lived together in the Chapter, it is quite evident that there was a great sense of unity and charity among the 50 delegates and all those others who were associated with the Chapter, despite the fact that we were coming from as many as 14 countries, born and brought up in different cultures, belonging to varied age groups, and adhering to different philosophies of life. It was very heartening to see that there was an appreciable degree of fraternal love and mutual respect for the persons, even when their views were quite contrary to ours. I feel confident to say that everyone who witnessed our life here during the days of the Chapter would proclaim that we have been already living some of the aspects of Gaudete Exsultate of Pope Francis, even before the Apostolic Exhortation was officially released: “We are all called to be holy by living our lives with love and by bearing witness in everything we do, wherever we find ourselves (14)…Far from being timid, morose, acerbic or melancholy, or putting on a dreary face, the saints are joyful and full of good humor (122)”.
Words of Appreciation
If we can call the 32ndGeneral Chapter an unqualified success, it is thanks to the collaborative efforts of different individuals and groups. On behalf of the Congregation I wish to place on record my sincere appreciation to all those who contributed in one way or another towards the meticulous planning, careful preparation and the successful completion of the 32ndGeneral Chapter, though a formal Vote of Thanks was done yesterday evening.
- In the first place, I wish to thank all the members of the Central Administration, who spent several months for the planning and preparation of this important event in the Congregation, especially in preparing their comprehensive reports on the different dossiers and by spelling out the challenges being faced today by the different sectors of the Congregation, which put the Chapter in the right perspective. Let me also take this opportunity to place on record my sincere gratitude to the outgoing members of the General Council, Bros, Yvan Passebon, KM Joseph and Paulraj, for 6 years of living together as a community of government, six years of companionship and above all six years of valuable services as animators and administrators of the Congregation, in different capacities, and to Bros. Georges Le Vern and André Robert for their valuable contributions towards the successful function of the Central Administration.
- My renewed thanks to Bro. Jean-Clause the Facilitator-cum-Moderator, Bro. René Delorme and his team of the Chapter Preparatory Committee, all the Brothers, Sisters, the Chaplain and Collaborators of the Casa Generalizia, the Interpreters, the Secretary of the Chapter and the Assistant Secretaries, the Translators, the members of the Steering Committee, the members of the Drafting Committee, the Brothers who presided over the daily Eucharist, the two teams of the Tellers, the technicians, our high profiled altar boy, the Provinces that got ready with the backstage banner and the lovely mementoes, the catering service and all others who offered their committed services for the successful organization of the 32ndGeneral Chapter. It is needless for me to say that we owe a great deal to the hard work, commitment and competence of Bros. Jean-Claude and René Delorme for the success of our Chapter.
- I wish to say a special word of thanks to the Liturgy Committee, headed by Bro. Bernard Guesdon and abled assisted by Bros. Marcel and Sebastien, who animated all the liturgical services especially the meaningful and ceremonial celebration of the Eucharist this morning, and of course, without forgetting all the preparations done in advance by Bro. Ronald Brissette in getting the Prayers of the Church ready for our easy reference, for all the days of the Chapter.
Theme of the Chapter
Several Brothers had expressed their immense happiness as soon as they heard about the theme of the 32ndGeneral chapter: “Fraternal Living and the Communitarian Dimension of the Montfortian Mission”, for its relevance to meet the main challenges that we are confronted with in living our life and mission more meaningfully in the 21stcentury, reading the signs of the times. The Logo and the Motto of the 32ndGeneral Chapter further amplified the theme and gave us the needed tools to face these challenges. The motto “Love with your heart and hands” calls us to build our fraternity with our Brothers and all those who share our Montfortian Gabrielite Mission with love, compassion and joy, and to express our love and compassion by concrete actions in our mission. The Logo with all its meaningful symbols, express our Christian identity, our Montfortian roots, the international character of our Congregation and finally reaffirming the powerful statement of Pope Francis, “Where there are religious, there is joy”, and that all our struggles in our life and mission as consecrated persons can be overcome with God’s grace. The Prayer prepared by the Chapter Preparatory Committee for our 32ndGeneral Chapter, was a constant reminder to all of us of our origin, our call to be Religious Brothers and our mission as consecrated persons.
While listening to the reports of the Central Administration and the Provinces, we realized that there are lots of things that we as a Congregation can be proud of, and raise our hearts in thanksgiving. We were also brought face to face with a number of challenges of varied degrees. We were made to come to grips with the fact that the world is changing rapidly, and along with that our cultures and mentalities. During the General Chapter we became increasingly conscious of the need to be innovative in the field of formation in order to counter the challenges of declining vocations, increasing religious indifference, and constant erosion of basic religious values. We have realized that it is our responsibility as educators to take UN Sustainable development Goals as a focal point in mission. We have also realized that we need to rekindle the missionary dynamism of the Congregation in order to recapture the heroic services of missionaries of France, Canada, Belgium, Spain and Italy, who went as pioneers to Asia, Africa and South America. Time has come for the Congregation to strengthen its presence in the western sectors by starting International or Intercultural Communities and other innovative methods. The Chapter has also given a clarion call to the Asian Sector to lessen the burden of the west and to support the African sector in their march towards self-sufficiency.
Time of Grace
We were fortunate enough to have our General Chapter during a very important liturgical season, the Easter tide, beginning with the Feast of the Annunciation, contemplating Mary who said “Yes” to the message of Angel Gabriel, though she was totally unaware of what that entailed. In a similar fashion, about 15 days later Bros. Dionigi Tafferello, Jean-Paul Mbengue, Pratap Reddy and James TK have said their “Yes’s” to the mission that you have entrusted to them to be animators and administrators of the Congregation, following the example of our Blessed Mother, and trusting in the prayerful support of their Brothers. I wish to take this opportunity to congratulate Brothers Dionigi Taffarello, Jean-Paul Mbengue, Pratap Reddy and James TK, for enjoying the trust of the delegates of this Chapter and thank them for their sense of availability to be at the service of the Congregation.
The presence of our Bishop Gino Reali during the Inaugural Mass on 9thApril, and the rare privilege we all had to be received by the Holy Father Pope Francis in Private Adueince on Friday, 27thApril, are all indications of the Church’s interest in our Congregation because we are an integral part of the Church, participating in the common mission of the Church: Evangelization, Witnessing and Human Promotion.
It is another privilege to conclude our General Chapter on the Feast of St. Louis Marie de Montfort, our Founder and our inspiration, in the presence of the representatives of the whole Montfortian Family. Let me take this opportunity to congratulate Fr. Luizinho and his team of the General Council of the Montfort Missionaries on their election as leaders of their Congregation. I also take this opportunity to congratulate Sr. Louise and her team on the occasion of the 25thanniversary of the beatification of Blessed Marie-Louis Trichet, and assure them of our prayerful support for the success of their forthcoming General Chapter. We are ever grateful to the Montfort Missionaries and the Daughters of Wisdom, not only for their presence with us today as we conclude our General Chapter, but also for all the prayers offered at the grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes for the success of our General Chapter.
Dear capitulants, as you return to your Provinces, I request you to convey our greetings to all the Brothers, Associates and Collaborators in your Provinces. With renewed thanks to each and every one of you for your active and purposeful participation in the General Chapter, and with the fond hope that each one of you will become brand ambassadors of our resolve to love with our hearts and hands, within our communities and in our fields of mission,
NOW, I DECLARE THE 32nd GENERAL CHAPTER OF THE MONTFORT BROTHERS OF ST. GABRIEL CLOSED.
Br. John Kallarackal