Provincials and Sections Superiors meet with the General Council, 2023

Meeting of Provincials and Sections Superiors with the General Council

In the photo, from left to right: (Sitting) ArsèneKapya (PAC), Réal Doucet (AMS), Stanley Lubungo (SG), Francis Bomansaan (AG), AnselmeTarpaga (AG), (Standing) Didier Sawadogo (PAO), Jean-Marie Amalebondra (MGH), Jos Van Boxel (PEP), John Itaru (TG), Leo Laurence Joseph Maria (AG), Dennis Pam (GHN), André Simonart (SG), Christian Mulenga (SAP), Haile Gazena (EPO), Pawel Hulecki (AG), (At a distance) Jaya BordhanMrutyun (SOA), and Oswald Mallya (EAP).

From October 4th  to 11th , 2023, the Provincials and Sections Superiors met with the General Council. This meeting aimed to introduce the various leaders to their task of animating the confreres and administering the multiple circumscriptions. It was an initiation to the dynamics of leadership in the Society, with some emphasis on the representative role not only of the Superior General but of the whole Society.

Provincials and Section Superiors were introduced to the exercise of authority in the Society through familiarisation with official documents such as the Constitutions and Laws, the various Vademecum and the decisions of the General Chapter and their advancement.

They also met the various sections at the service of the Generalate, such as the Secretariat for Initial Formation, the JPIC-RD Coordination, the Coordination for the Integrity in Ministry and the Media team. It was also a time to listen to news from our Provinces and Sections and to get to know each other better for more effective collaboration in the future.

Eight of the 10 participants were on site, and two followed the program from a distance.

Here’s what participants have said about the meeting:

 The meeting brought to me an awareness of my responsibilities as a provincial. The first awareness is that as a Provincial, I am an overseer not only of human and material resources in the Province but also of how these resources are to be handled and dispensed. The meeting also brought to my awareness the mission of our Society, especially in the areas of JPIC/ED. In the meetings, Ioften felt that the responsibilities were far too much for one person! I was somehow overwhelmed, and I wondered how one person (one man) couldhandle all these! The meeting once again brought to my awareness my limitations as a person and the need to seek God’s help and guidance in this ministry. Lastly, I hope and pray that “the grace of the office may transform me”.

I would like to start by saying a big thank you to the members of the General Council for your availability and sharing. The sharing from the various Provinces and Sections is highly appreciated. These sharing highlight the diverse nature of our missionary endeavours, joys and challenges. Thank you for listening to us and enabling us to be aware of the responsibilities and challenges of leadership. 

The meeting aimed to introduce the office bearers to the offices of the leaders for better administration in view of good service to the confreres and the Society at large. The meeting also equally drew to my attention how we could work and collaborate with each other as we are at the service of the Society. I personally appreciated the contributions and sharing of different views in the meeting, which enriched me. It was an opportunity for me to get to know others.

The meeting with the General Council was an opportunity for us to learn and deepen our knowledge of our Society, particularly about the exercise of the service of authority. It was interesting to come face to face with the documents (Vademecum and others). These documents are tools not only for the governance service in our provinces or sections but also instruments of meditation and prayer for this mission that we share with Christ in the Church, for the confreres in our jurisdictions and for the Society as a whole. Also, the application of these directives must always be lived out with the greatest love for the mission and for our confreres, for whom I am called to be an example in living and sharing our charism: isn’t that the best way to govern?

The meeting of the General Council with the Provincials was a very beautiful and fruitful experience. First of all, it was a good introduction to the mission of governing. Secondly, by the opportunity it has given us to meet, to get to know each other better, to learn from each other and to feel invested with the same mission in the service of our confreres. The different topics discussed corresponded to real needs on the ground, and they were very well prepared.

I very much appreciated the meetings with the various coordinators and the articulation between the formation on governance and the updating of the Chapter’s orientations to keep us focused on the prophetic mission.

About our meeting in Rome, I prefer to use the term ‘encounter’. For me, this was the most important part of our few days spent together: to create links, to learn to know each other and to develop an ‘esprit de corps’. It is so important to remind ourselves that we are at the service of the whole Society, not only of the confreres living in our own Province or Section. I was happy to listen to each one of the General Council members and to those in charge of the various services. Most of them are newcomers, and to hear them talking to us in the way they did confirms my convictions that our Society keeps alive the charism we received from our founder. Let us continue praying for one another!

The meeting was very helpful and encouraging for a variety of reasons. The fact of meeting face to face for several days allowed us to get to know each other, both among Provincials, Section Superiors, and the members of the General Council. Bonding is very important. The themes that were presented were very well prepared and gave us some deeper insights into what is expected from us. Thanks to each of the presenters, including the confreres in charge of various responsibilities at the Generalate (JPIC-ED, safeguarding, media, finances, etc.). We had a chance to discuss, ask questions, and give our contributions.

The welcoming atmosphere in the Generalate made us feel at home, and the interaction with other members of the community and other visitors was pleasant and interesting. I thank the General Council for inviting us to that meeting, which, for me, was more of a formation session on leadership in our Society. It was an eye-opener on the importance of administration in our system of governance.The importance of being congruent with the documents of the Society and knowing where to find explanations to many of our questions. It was clear that we don’t take enough time to read and digest our working instruments: The Constitutions and Laws, Vade mecum of Government for Provincials, Statutes of the Provinces, etc. and working towards the realisation of the decisions of the last General Chapter.

The importance of working as a team among ourselves and the easy flow of information. The meeting at that level of leadership in the Society is an important opportunity to rob shoulders among ourselves. The meeting was, for me, a real sign of unity and communion of the confreres committed to serve our Society of the Missionaries of Africa in leadership and administrative services.

The meeting was marked by an air of profound fraternity. Each Provincial/Section Superior was free to air out the challenges and triumphs experienced within his respective province/section of mission. The General Council’s willingness to listen and sympathise with these experiences made a strong impression to me of their openness to dialogue and collaboration.

One striking aspect was the overwhelming sense of listening that prevailed in the conference room. Despite differences in cultural, political and economic backgrounds of our respective provinces/sections, the Provincials/Section Superiors found some common ground in their shared mission in which everyone is deeply engaged.

What truly touched me during this meeting was the desire for unity. Despite the challenges and differences, a global network remained dedicated to the service of the mission. The expression “if it means to sink together, let us sink together” was not just a mare expression but of great impact and invitation for transformation of the attitude towards our Society as a vessel on which we are all on board.

This meeting was a profound and inspirational gathering. The shared dedication and combined efforts, with the unbreakable spirit of unity, left me with a renewed sense of purpose as we continue our missionary journey in different countries around the world.

I appreciate the initiative taken by the General Council in organising this introductory meeting. I appreciate the fraternal and relaxed atmosphere that reigned during the meetings. The topics covered were rich and interesting. This meeting made me more aware of the weight of responsibility on the Provincial when it comes to the governance of a Province and decisions to be taken. This responsibility requires a good dose of discernment and prayer before making important decisions. We wish a lot of inner strength to our confreres who are at the service of Provinces and Sections. Let’s not forget to pray for them!

Collected by Pawel Hulecki, (M.Afr) Assistant General