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Home WHAT’S NEW "The ongoing renewal of our mission"

"The ongoing renewal of our mission" PDF Print E-mail

Interview with the Superior General, Very Reverend Richard Lamourex, A.A.

Very Revered Richard Lamoureux, A.A.Q. Fr. Richard, you are quickly coming to the end of your second term (12 years) as superior general of the Assumptionists. Could you share with our readers what has given you the greatest satisfaction during this time?

Although I had some familiarity with a good part of the Congregation before my election in 1999, my travels since to all parts of the Assumption world (I think I’ve circled the globe 5 times in the past 12 years) have put me in touch with the many young men who are in training as Assumptionist religious and priests.  Getting to know them has put me in touch with their tremendous energy and optimism, but also helped me to understand the shape that the world and the Church are taking in this time of very rapid change and development.  Many things have been gratifying experiences during my time as Superior General, but clearly my work with these young confrères has been one of the most enjoyable and enlightening aspects of my mission during these years.

New Assumptionist Community in Bucharest, Romania Q. As you prepare to leave office, what gives you the greatest cause for hope for the congregation?

Despite our modest resources and small numbers and despite the challenges facing the Order and the Church in our modern world, I am heartened to see the apostolic energy and creativity on the part of many of our brothers and communities throughout the world.  With the resources that we’ve been given, we remain bold and generous in the service of society and God’s people today.  That is certainly a major cause for hope.

Q. As superior general, you have had an opportunity to travel throughout the world and to interact with leaders of other religious congregations. In your opinion, what are the greatest challenges facing religious life today?

The greatest challenge facing religious is the same as that facing all followers of Christ:  to live in a personal and committed way that encounter with Christ, to be attentive to what he is asking of us in the new and challenging context that is ours, and to be courageous and generous in responding to that call.  Focusing on Christ helps us truly to love the Church (in the way that he wants us to love the Church) and truly to love the world in which we live.  The “poverty” of the Church and of religious life today is a motive for discouragement on the part of many, and that is a great challenge.  But real hope and joy have little to do with “success” and “riches”.

Assumption Language School (teachers and students) - Manila ,the PhilippinesQ. In particular, what are the major challenges facing the congregation?

1) in the area of mission – The challenge is twofold:  to identify the real needs of God’s people in today’s world (and not simply continue responding to needs that were identified in, and of, the past); and to respond to those needs with the particular “strengths” that are ours with our particular religious “charism” or spirit as a religious Congregation.

2) in the area of formation – The challenge is to understand as well as possible the young people coming to religious life today and to design a formation program that is suited to them and inspired by and faithful to the Assumptionist heritage.  This is especially challenging given the inevitable international dimension of formation programs today (the presence of young men from different cultures in the same formation program, the need to help them be aware of broader issues than simply those relating to their own backgrounds, etc.), but also the uneven “flow” of young men into our formation programs:  in one year, there might be five, in the next none.

Adveniat House - Paris, France3) in the area of community organization – How is it possible to organize the Congregation as a whole, respecting at once the need to root ourselves in particular cultures and to collaborate with Assumptionists from other parts of the world at times in missions with a clear international dimension?

4) in the area of material resources – Finding the necessary financial resources for new and materially demanding missions remains a great challenge.

Q. As superior general, you and your council have reviewed the requests of young people seeking admission to the congregation from around the world. What is it, in your experience, that continues to draw them to this life today?

Young people most often cite three aspects of the Assumption that is attractive to them:  its emphasis on the fraternal life, lived in concrete and very simple ways; its apostolic versatility and creativity, a readiness to respond to the deepest needs of the Church with a spirit that is well-defined; a spirit characterized by great freedom, humanity, and intellectual and spiritual depth.

Q. How does being superior general shape one's own vocation and view of the Church and the world?

It helps you to be more and more a man of faith.  No challenge coming from the world is too great; we need to confront the challenges with courage, but always with confidence.  The “human” side of the Church is no surprise, for it truly is the “body” of Christ, a very tangible, divine but also human reality.

statue of Fr. d'Alzon dedicated during the bicentennial (with sculptor)- Assumption College, Worcester, USAQ. The congregation just celebrated the bicentennial of the birth of the congregation's founder. What impact did this celebration have, in your opinion, on the life of the congregation?

Each region of the Congregation would have to respond to this question, since every region organized very different kinds of events and means to mark the celebration.  In terms of the Congregation the emphasis was on a discovery (or rediscovery) of the founder as a model of holiness, as someone whose life’s journey can inspire us and illuminate our own personal faith journey.  The indication that this has been successful has been a heightened interest in having the Church recognize the holiness of the Founder by beatifying him.

Q. More and more lay-people have expressed an interest in the Assumptionist charism. How would you explain this phenomenon and what are its implications for the Assumption and the Church?

Assumptionist Community in Riobamba, Ecuador with lay associatesClearly, this “movement” has a twofold origin. The more immediate cause is the reminder by the Second Vatican Council of the lay person’s vocation in the Church and his/her place in the Church’s evangelizing mission.  The more remote cause, particular to the Assumptionists, is the founder’s early collaboration with lay people (even before the foundation of the Congregation) in his educational projects in southern France in the 19th century.  These have been powerful forces encouraging Assumptionist religious to become more aware of the important place that lay people have in the Congregation and awakening in lay people their own call as lay people to live and work within the context of the Assumptionist charism.

Annual Assumptionist-led pilgrimage to Lourdes, FranceThe implications for the Assumption and for the Church are profound. In a Church that tends to be organized around the priest, the involvement of lay people helps all of us to refocus on the primary calling we all have as disciples of Jesus Christ.  A less “clerical” Church does not do away with priests and religious but places the emphasis where it should be placed:  not on position or status but on discipleship and service.  There are other implications that are much more concrete, but these are secondary.

Q. In May of this year, the congregation will hold a general chapter, a meeting of delegates from throughout the congregations to review the past six years and to plan for the next six years? What are the major issues to be addressed and what are your hopes for these meetings?

The major issues: the ongoing renewal of our mission as a Congregation and of our dedication to our Assumptionist vocation; a renewed sense of belonging to an international body; the reorganization of the Congregation in keeping with major changes in the Church, in the world, and in the Congregation itself during these past ten years; the deeper integration of lay people into the life, mission and organization of the Congregation.  As always, the Chapter will try to seek to identify those confrères who can assume special leadership roles in the years to come.

Q. Finally, as you contemplate life after this experience as superior general,  do you have some ideas about your future?

I have ideas about that, but no doubt those that my Superiors have (or will have) will be of critical importance.  My abilities as a teacher and in roles of formation and governance, as well as my experience of the Congregation as a whole, will no doubt orient whatever decisions are taken.

Last Updated on Friday, 28 January 2011 21:59
 
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