Chapter Communication - 7 June 2022
Here we are again with the daily report. The plenary sessions occupied the whole day and there were several topics on the agenda: continuing education, self-care, accompaniment of confreres, interculturality, personnel resources and financial material resources. I will share some of the points with you.
The participants started by acknowledging the efforts of the society for the ongoing formation of its members. They noted that the pandemic has slowed down the ongoing formation activities a lot. However, online sessions have become much more common and several members have managed to follow interesting courses. The internet offers too many possibilities and it is important to choose the right sessions. Ongoing formation is not limited to attending sessions. It includes recollections and retreats, sharing of homilies, personal readings, and courses in some institutes. Several provinces have taken advantage of the provincial councils to present a topic for reflection.
In order to benefit from ongoing formation, it is necessary for the person to have a good personal discipline and to keep his curiosity alive. He must give himself time for personal reflection in order to integrate the content of the readings, sharing and sessions.
It is necessary to update the content of the sessions and conferences according to the mission and the world of today. We are disappointed that some confreres do not pay enough attention to their own formation.
This is an important aspect of mission, because it is about taking care of the missionary, his health and well-being. Taking care of oneself is the responsibility of the confrere himself. No one can do it for him.
Self-care is not a waste of time. Rather, it is a commitment to oneself and to the mission. To be successful, it is enough to discipline oneself and do regular interesting activities to relax: walking, sport, music, visiting friends, reading, prayer, recollection, sleep and paying attention to food and drink. Spending time together with fellow members is very beneficial, while regular medical consultation helps to remain in good health. Taking care of oneself is an excellent antidote to activism and overwork.
It is suggested that this aspect of missionary life be introduced in the houses of formation.
ACCOMPANIMENT OF CONFRERES
Once again, the participants thanked the Society for the initiatives taken to accompany confreres in difficulty and for the help given to confreres. Centres are being consulted and others have been created for this ministry. We are aware that effective support requires professional skills.
Professional guidance does not exempt confreres from supporting others who are ill or in difficulty. The well-being of confreres in difficulty concerns all confreres, not only the authorities or professionals. Indeed, a moment of listening, compassion and friendship towards the sick confrere is very comforting for him. This does not exclude the use of tough love, which gives hope to the confrere, can help him to recover, and which we are unfortunately afraid of. The contribution of a lively and vigorous community is very beneficial for the sick confrere.
Let us remember that we are all human and vulnerable and that we appreciate brotherly support in our difficult moments.
Interculturality is an important element of our missionary charism. It shapes our society and our mission, our community and our relationships with people. It is a component of our prophetic witness to the Church and the world today. It also attracts vocations in our society. In order to face better the challenge of intercultural life, sessions were held for confreres.
We live interculturality at all levels of our missionary life, in community, in our apostolate, in the provincial teams up to the general council, in our houses of formation and in all the provinces, also in Europe and America. We want to preserve this particularity of our charism. We know that interculturality brings us closer to the people to whom we are sent and with whom we live. We appreciate the efforts made to create intercultural communities and intercultural leadership teams, taking into account of course the competencies required for the missionary apostolate.
It is essential to remember that interculturality is quite different from internationality. A country and a single nation are often made up of people from several cultures.
A good image to describe what interculturality is and what attitudes are required is to consider that going on mission is like entering someone else’s garden, a garden where there are different plants, trees, fruits from those in our own garden.
This section has dealt with provincials, provincial assistants, provincial delegates, their role, consultations and elections before their appointment. The provincial teams do their best to be close to the confreres and ensure their spiritual animation and well-being. The distances and the insecurity complicate their work. The functioning of the megaprovinces needs to be examined. Some sectors tend to function as if they were provinces.
It is clear that a provincial team is more harmonious and efficient when the provincial specifies the areas of competence of the provincial delegate. The conviviality of the provincial team, living in the same residence, greatly favours the sharing of information and allows better discernment and decision-making in urgent situations.
Interculturality remains an essential element of our leadership and is part of our prophetic mission. We do not forget that our structures are at the service of the mission.
FINANCIAL AND MATERIAL RESOURCES
The discussion started with a list of achievements in the management of our resources: budgeting, auditing, self-financing projects, EVAF, harmonisation of accounting software, building, finance and development committees operating in provinces, training of bursars. There has been good progress in the last few years. We need to strengthen transparency and accountability in our management of material goods.
We see that more and more people in Africa want to help us and contribute to our mission. The management of financial and material resources is a space for collaboration with the laity. In the course of the discussions, the firm commitment of the society to support and help all the confreres, whatever their situation, was strongly expressed.
The confreres have become much more aware of the material and financial reality that the mission and well-being of our society entails.