Provincial Chapter - Third Day - December 30, 2010 Print

Provincial prezentationAfter a full day dedicated to lay collaboration, the Chapter turned its attention to a number of reports reviewing the past five years meant to remind members of what has happened during that time in view of evaluation and planning. Three reports were given by the provincial, Fr. Marcel Poirier, the regional superior of Mexico, Fr. Miguel Diaz Ayllon and the superior of the Filipino delegation, Fr. Bernard Holzer.

The Province as a whole has experienced many significant changes in the last five years: the creation of three semi-autonomous regions in 2006 (Canada, USA, Mexico), the opening of the first community in the Philippines the same year, the opening of two additional houses in the Philippines in 2008, the decision to assume responsibility for a new parish in Mexico City in 2009, the hiring of a new president at Assumption College with a mandate to revitalize the Catholic, Assumptionist character of the institution, the creation of a house in Manila to welcome and train Chinese priests and seminarians, the continued expansion of Bayard Press in Canada and the US, and in 2010 the decision to open a house of discernment (Augustine House) on the campus of Assumption College, to mention several. The provincial observed that inter-provincial cooperation has never been greater, especially with the Provinces of France and the Congo, that there has been a dramatic increase in vocations, especially in the Philippines and Mexico (which has resulted in the median age of the province decreasing by 5 years), that the bicentennial of the founder’s birth was celebrated enthusiastically and with many positive results, and that at least one major work of the province, Assumption College, has been recognized as a priority of the entire congregation.

Challenges remain:
1) the vast differences in culture, language, experience of Church, socio-economic conditions, and apostolic commitments, not to mention the considerable distances between regions, make the efforts for unity and communication extremely difficult;
2) growth in the Philippines and in Mexico raises questions of new facilities, trained formators, and financial support;
3) lay collaborators are seeking more involvement, more formation, and more communication with their counterparts in other countries;
4) the global economic crisis, the decrease in religious earning salaries, the reduction in subsidies from the congregation to regions with formation needs like ours, and the increase in worthy projects have only served to underline the need for finding alternative sources of revenue such as active and professional development offices.

Fr. Miguel Diaz AyllonReports from the regional superior of Mexico and the superior of the Filipino delegation followed.

In Mexico, sustained vocation efforts have borne significant fruit in recent years; there are six brothers in post-novitiate formation, one novice, two postulants, and three candidates, not mention a large number of residents and contacts. At the request of the local bishop, the Region has assumed responsibility for an enormous parish, San Andres Totoltepec, with 100,000 inhabitants and 18 separate “barrios”; when we took the parish over a year and a half ago, there were huge problems, but Fr. Flavio, the superior, and the brothers in his community have made remarkable strides in turning the situation around. One of the major developments has been the arrival of many brothers from the Congo both for studies and pastoral ministry; this help has made much of the recent success in the region possible. Challenges remain here as well: 1) finding adequate space and funding for formation needs; 2) relieving personnel who wear too many hats; 3) re-invigorating lay collaborators; 4) establishing an effective development office.

Philippines presentationThe story in the Philippines, it has to be recognized, has really been one of hard-won success. The first Filipino arrived in the United States in 1999 to begin a process of formation the end of which he (nor any of us) had no idea. Who could have imagined then that in 2006 the Assumptionists would begin a foundation in Manila with five religious from 4 countries and that by the end of 2010 there would be 17 religious in three communities, 5 novices, 5 postulants, six candidates, and a long list of contacts? Who could have predicted then that in 2011 we would be running a language center with over 30 students, considering the opening of a fourth community (this one the first away from the greater Manila area, involved in numerous outreach programs to the poor, accepting Chinese candidates, and proposing an international house of formation for the congregation in Manila? From the beginning the Filipino mission has been an international effort and continues to be so: religious, novices, and postulants from nine countries: the Philippines, France, the USA, Canada, the Congo, Madagascar, El Salvador, South Korea, and China (and one religious from Colombia helped out for a while). Needless to say, this progress in such a short time has produced growing pains, similar to those in Mexico: finding an adequate number of trained formators and financial resources, dealing with the inevitable conflicts that international communities can spawn, coordinating efforts for a joint Asian project with the Province of France, and envisioning future apostolic priorities.  At the end of the day, the first Filipino, Brother Ricky Montanez, now a professed religious and deacon, took the floor to thank the province for the investment it made in the Filipino project and encouraged us to give thanks for all the graces we have received from God a fitting ending, indeed.

Last Updated on Friday, 31 December 2010 20:32