From June 13-23, the 13th Chapter of the Province of Northern Italy was celebrated in Albino, province of Bergamo. It was certainly the most innovative Chapter we have yet experienced, both for the way it was held and for its preparation.
A commission of 4 confreres worked for almost 2 years in collaboration with the Provincial and a pair Of consultants . These 2 guided the process with ways of involving all members of the Province to participate personally for several months. 3 confreres from the preparatory commission of the Chapter met with all the communities of the Province. Then after the work was done and all the input was collected. 2 assemblies were held and participated in by most of the confreres in the Province. They were engaged in a process that invited them to be involved and participate, by putting forth their contributions and reflections.
The working paper( Instrumentum Laboris) that was created for the Chapter became the agenda , resulting from the interventions, requests, situations, and needs that had come from the concerns emerging in the North Italian Province.
The Provincial assumed that the tried and tested methods guiding the work of the small groups , with their discussions, comparisons, in plenary sessions , facilitated always by the 2 experts , all of this, contributed to the development of a Program document , which came from the grass roots. What followed was a desire for greater participation and ownership in this Dehonian Province.
Looking Ahead with Optimism
It is true we haven’t forgotten the hardships and limitations due to our ever decreasing numbers of membership, the very high average age of members, and the lack of vocations but we know what matters is to work until the last day of God’s kingdom.
We still believe in the beauty of the Beatitudes . They still have a strong appeal and give meaning to our choices as religious. The Province plan , through our method of discussion came about naturally and we agreed on most of the decisive choices that the Province will need to make in the next 6 years. The final document was a response to the invitation of the Provincial, Father Enzo Brena . In his initial report, he reminded us “Have courage to come up with current answers to our present day questions , overcoming our instinctive inertia -“we always did it that way”- to redo what has been done so far. It is only through “Openness to the Spirit” that we can find a way to express our charism without limiting ourselves by identifying it with the works up to now we have incarnated. It also means putting the evangelical life at the center, aware that it is our love of one another that makes us recognizable . To be a sign in the world, it is necessary that all are animated” by looking within ourselves and all of our communities “ to build communities that are truly prophetic fraternities.
The style of Emmaus
Our desire now is to move forward in our service with a renewed spirit. We know in the context of today we need to be significant in our mission of Evangelization and capable of going beyond the present moment, while maintaining a strong union with Christ and each other.
Fr. Provincial also wrote : “Our brothers and sisters need to meet us as men who walk with them, who value them. They expect because of our experiences of community life , that we know how to radiate serenity,joy,hope, charity, wisdom, despite the trials and contradictions which also touch our lives. If we walk forward and grow we help them to grow. If we stay on their level and share the toil of the spiritual and apostolic life, if we share with them the responsibility of being a Christian community and appreciate the gifts and talents of everyone, then we do what Jesus asks of us: Build the Kingdom.
An Open Tent for Gathering and Hospitality
The pastoral plan that emerged from the Chapter hinges on 3 verbs Convert, Convene, Converge. This becomes the paradigm of our being .All this was well expressed in the preface of the final document. “ OurProvince can be the tent we need . It is a necessary place to be for those who still dream of being able to discover the truth about themselves continuing to make an effort on the road ahead(this is conversion). Our Province can become a tent as the meeting place where all can come together as a community and experience the beauty among brothers (this is convening). The Dehonian Province of North Italy can still offer itself as a tent for meeting and offering hospitality for all those who seek rest before setting out again( this is converging). From the Chapter we left with the strength of the Holy Spirit which we often invoked so we could set out again aware of our poverty but also with the responsibility of the gift we have received.
Let us ask the Lord to lead us ,as the Provincial emphasized in his final remarks “ To live the fascination of this re-awakening that has lenkindled the hearts of all of us and is the foundation that allows us to go forward with the re-assuring risk of belonging to Him .