Evoking an Image
Recently when I was in Palermo, in Piazza Bologna near the cathedral, I came across the statue of Charles V of the House of Habsburg. As I try to talk about the statistics provided by the secretary general, a famous expression comes to my mind: “In the empire of Charles V, the sun never sets”. When we count ourselves we too can have the desire to see the results, to see ourselves spread across parts of the world. I offer this thought: I am surprised by the fact that the six-month statistics of the Congregation are not just a cold calculation of numbers, but instead breathe life into the journey. The general government has set up a program for the six-year term, soon there will be a meeting of the directors of postulants and novices, and then the encounter of major superiors who have recently started their service. A program is being prepared for the treasurers. In the spring there will a meeting of the superiors of theology students, and later in the year will be the course for formation directors. In the middle of the summer, there was a letter from Father General in which he invited us to re-think vocations. The church is preparing for the synod focused on youth. The chronology of these events is important. The climate of opinion may be affected by these events. However, these programs are aimed at long-term effects. As we begin today’s topic, we find that compared to the last statistical update given in December, 2016, no major deviations emerge.
The Diversity of the Continents
Asia and Africa seem to enjoy good health. They can count on fresh energies. Of a total of 72 novices, 55 are present in these two continents. There are 33 in Asia, and Indonesia has the largest number at 13. There are 22 in Africa, and Congo has eight novices. Similar numbers can be seen in diaconal preparation. These two continents account for 20 of the 43 deacons currently in the Congregation. There are eight in Asia and 12 in Africa. Brazil has the largest number of deacon candidates with 12, in addition, Venezuela has two and Chile has one. This makes 15 deacons in Latin America. Europe has seven, North America has only one. These are two areas that normally face difficult situations in personnel needs and new initiatives.
The Lines of the Future
The number of students in temporary vows is remarkable; there are 295 students in temporary vows. That is only three fewer than a year ago. Here the emphasis should be placed on the need to take particular care of this stage of formation, preparing students for important and definitive choices. By looking at the data you find that five entities have numbers of more than 30 students. If we want rank them, we see that Indonesia is first with 38 students in temporary vows. If you combine all entities in Africa there are 105. There is huge human potential. We cannot procrastinate in training formation directors. There are only three brothers in temporary vows. This is a situation that needs to be examined carefully and given better support. There are 24 bishops in the Congregation. There will have a meeting for them in January, 2018, in Rome at the General Curia. In the light of this data, there is reason for everyone to continue reflection and to give attention to the mission of evangelization in the Church. Orientations and choices require greater collaboration. We cannot work out of a closed, isolationist mentality.