January 4, 2023 | DAY TWO: Where do you dwell?
Br. Blair NUYDA -Secretary of the Chapter
The steering committee acknowledged that the small groups were not able to review the chapters on Community Organization and Finances from the 2017 Acts. We will revisit these topics once we discuss matters on Structures and Temporal Organization later on Friday. For its second day, the Chapter focused mainly on reviewing our life and mission in the Province.
For the first session in the morning, Patty, Fr. Richard, and Fr. Flavio gave short presentations about life in the Province from their unique perspectives.
Patty sees the Province through the lens of a Lay Assumptionist in the United States. While not living in community like the religious, our Lay Assumptionists are united with the Congregation in spirit and mission. They share in the desire to be builders of fraternal communion and unity. She went on to mention that the Lay Assumptionist groups had gone through a process of finding out how they could participate in the mission. They realized that mission is “not contrived, but happens organically”, that “mission finds us” and that “our service must address actual needs.” Today, the Lay Assumptionists help in the education of impoverished students in the Philippines (US), helping the parish (US and Mexico), caring for refugee families (Quebec), doing catechesis, and helping in the formation of young religious (Mexico).
Before Fr. Richard could begin his presentation, he invited Fr. Edward to briefly describe the mission in Quebec to give a more comprehensive picture of our mission in the three countries of the Province.
Fr. Richard named five challenges to consider in his presentation: (1) Evangelization in a secular world (2) Evangelization in a weakened, divided, and polarized world (3) Evangelization in a globalized society (4) Challenge of personnel in the mission (5) Challenge in doing Vocation Ministry.
Fr. Flavio, as a seasoned formator, emphasized many important aspects in formation including the formation of formators, improving the quality of our accompaniment, formation in the responsible use of social media, formation to good community living that reflects family values lived in daily life, formation in leadership and not just in theories; formation at the service of the mission; and formation with the laity. He also noted that we must encourage the young to learn our history.
The second session in the morning focused on two specific apostolic areas that the previous Provincial Chapter of 2017 wants us to revisit. These are (1) the revitalization of St. Anne’s Parish in Sturbridge and (2) the new mission in El Paso, Texas.
Fr. Dennis identified the challenges that the parish continues to face, mostly concerning personnel. Meanwhile, Fr. Alex, as pastor of St. Anne’s, gave a short presentation on the positive improvements and successful initiatives that have taken place in the parish community.
Fr. Peter recounted how the mission in El Paso started and how it has become what it is now. The pandemic has certainly slowed down our efforts, but we now have three brothers working in the frontlines of a parish and a migrant shelter. There has also been a stream of young people from Assumption University, the Assumptionist Center in Brighton, and other universities who came to El Paso to learn about the realities at the border and to volunteer at the shelter. As a joint project of the United States and Mexico, there is still a lot to do to improve our service but it seems like we are heading in the right direction. Fr. Peter also mentioned that there is another request by the Bishop of El Paso to administer a nearby parish. We will need time to properly discern our response to this request.
The first session in the afternoon was a discussion on two mobilizing works in the Province: Bayard (US and Canada) and Assumption University. The discussion was based on several reports gathered by the Preparatory Committee and on short presentations given by Fr. Peter (as member of Bayard’s board), and Fr. Richard (as VP for Mission). Fr. Dennis also shared important information and his thoughts about these two mobilizing works. The session noted several challenges, certainly intensified by the pandemic, mostly indicating a decline in different aspects. For Bayard, this includes a decline in readership, profits, and organizational stability, among others. For Assumption University, this includes a decline in enrollment, personnel, interest (or lack of understanding) with regard to Catholic education and identity, and so on. After identifying these challenges, we now hope to intensify our commitment to support and identify better ways of collaboration with these two mobilizing works.
The second session in the afternoon paid attention to the report submitted by Fr. Peter, Br. Blair, Fr. Flavio, Fr. Luc, and Fr. Pacifique on Interculturality, Internationality, and Intergenerationality. The capitulants seemed to have a good grasp of what these terms mean and how they are both a gift and a challenge to our community life. We also realize its implications on formation, on mission and evangelization, and certainly on our witness to unity and communion. Several items were proposed, most of them inviting us to listen and understand one another in deeper ways, going beyond stereotypes and biases, opening avenues of better sharing and communication most especially during local chapters, and learning languages.
Our prayers today were mostly in French. Fr Eduard focused his homily on following the Lord to where he dwells, and indeed to “come and see.”
Were not our discussions this day, however long and arduous, an invitation to see ourselves as collaborators in God’s mission, as co-dwellers in his Kingdom?