Meeting of the New Visitors – Second Phase
The second phase of the New Visitors Meeting was initiated with presentations and reflections on the Visitors Manual, presentations that were made by each one of the Assistants General and those individuals responsible for the different offices and commissions of the General Curia. Father Aarón Gutiérrez led us in a reflection on the section, the Visitor and Provincial Institutions (#204-321 of the practical guide). His knowledge of this matter provided us with much information that will assist us in our ministry of governance.
The present Director of the International Formation Center (CIF), Father Andrés Motto, CM, spoke about the various formation programs that are offered to the members of the Congregation of the Mission and those that are available for members of the worldwide Vincentian Family. He encouraged the Visitors to take advantage of these programs and to make this information known to the members of the other branches of the Vincentian Family.
Father Tomaž Mavrič, CM (Superior General) had a second intervention dealing with the theme of interprovincial collaboration. Using the guide as a starting point, he referred to a very specific example of collaboration: the interprovincial seminary in Enugu, Nigeria which forms many of the seminarists from the provinces of CIVIAM (many provinces have supported this effort by sharing their financial and personnel resources).
Father Yosief Zeracristos addressed a very practical theme, visitation of the local communities (the relationship between the Visitor and the local superior). Father reminded us of Vincent’s words, namely, visits that are done well, result in good order and discipline in the local community,
This meeting was not only a time of formation but also provided the participants with an opportunity to visit the catacombs beneath St. Peter’s Basilica (where it is believed that St. Peter himself was buried). Sunday (January 14th), we celebrated the Eucharist at the General Curia (Father Miles Heinen presided at this celebration) and then, we were able to tour the building and shared a meal together.
Various themes were presented and dealt with during the last two days of our meeting. Monday, Father Paul Parackal, CM (Econome General) elaborated on the theme: the Visitor and the material goods of the province (#321 of the practical guide). The secretary-general, Father Giuseppe Turati, CM, spoke about correspondence with his office and about the various services that the General Curia can provide to the Visitors. Father emphasized the importance of good relationships between the provinces and the General Curia and reminded the Visitors about appointing a provincial secretary which facilitates the maintenance of such a relationship. The session concluded with questions about documentation, notifications with regard to various appointments, the on-line catalog, email, etc.
Father Giuseppe Turati, CM, together with the procurator and postulator general, Father Giuseppe Guerra, CM, presented pastoral and juridical aspects concerning provincial members with difficulty (#123-195 of the practical guide).
On the last day of our gathering, our confrere, Bishop Beniamino Depalma, CM, dialogued with us about the Visitor and the local church (#392-413 of the practical guide). Bishop emphasized the importance of the consecrated life in the Church. Then, Father Aarón Gutiérrez, CM (assistant general and representative of the General Curia to the Vincentian Family), explained the evolution of the relationship with the worldwide Vincentian Family and exhorted the Visitors to promote this ministry with the wider Family and to involve the confreres in ministry of service to all the various branches of the Vincentian Family.
During the last session, the members of the commission that has been charged with revising the practical guide engaged in a dialogue with the participants to gather together their suggestions and insights.
We conclude our time together with the celebration of the Eucharist that was presided by the vicar-general, Father Javier Álvarez. He stated that the Visitors should be very clear that they serve the confreres and therefore must seek that which is best for the confreres. At the same time the Visitor should encourage and support the confreres, but especially the more weak and vulnerable members of the province.
Then, the Visitors began to depart Rome in order to return to their respective provinces, renewed in their ministry to animate the common life of the confreres and to provide vision and leadership to their province.
Charles T. Plock, CM
Eastern Province, USA