Dear Confreres, with this Eucharistic celebration the Council of the Congregation, begun on February 6, closes its doors, but not before having accomplished its agenda.
The Lord and the Virgin of La Salette - we are certain of this - have accompanied us throughout these three weeks, and we firmly believe that the Holy Spirit has guided us in the discussions and decisions which have come forth.
We have endeavored to dialogue with one another, listening to each one’s reasoning in a spirit of communion and family, with our sight always fixed on the good of our Congregation and on the mission to which she is called in the Church and in the world.
We have had the experience that walking together is at times not easy because of the varying sensitivities of culture and language, but a richness is always revealed whereby new horizons are opened to us, as well as new possibilities for understanding and collaboration.
Our Congregation is going through a significant period marked by interdependence, characterized by support and mutual collaboration among the Provinces on a number of levels: ministry, mission, community - as well as finances. It is a time of grace, which we should not squander, but make fruitful to the greatest extent possible.
In particular, three decisions taken by this Council of the Congregation capture for me in a clear way the path of our Congregation in this precise moment of our history: the raising of the District of Myanmar to the level of a Region; the “missionary” response to a church very much on the periphery, with the opening of a new mission of La Salettes in Mozambique, and the work we are doing with those laity desiring to make their own and live along with us the charism of reconciliation. These decisions constitute real challenges that we must confront in faith, with courage and without fear, in full trust and awareness that God is always with us and that the Beautiful Lady will never withhold her maternal guidance and protection.
In this Council of the Congregation we have also officially begun preparing for the General Chapter, which will take place in Las Termas (Argentina) from April 9 to May 5, 2018. This constitutes, as does every Chapter, a very important step on the road of charism and mission that our Congregation is called to travel in the heart of the Church and the world of today.
We must arrive at this ecclesial and charismatic event having prepared well along with all our confreres, supported by the human and spiritual solidarity of many laity, friends and benefactors who share with us the joys and challenges of mission.
“Nella grazia della Salette, profeti per un mondo riconciliato” is the theme chosen to accompany the preparation and celebration of the General Chapter. Herein there are three important elements which call for our attention: the return to the roots of our religious and La Salette vocation, which stems from the apparition of the Virgin to Maximin and Melanie and the need to make clear our identity; the call on the Church’s part to be credible witnesses in our lives and by our words; and putting our charism at the service of reconciliation.
I ask you, dear Provincials, to help the confreres live this time of preparation as a time of grace and a new opportunity for a profound renewal that touches our personal and communal identity as religious and as missionaries.
In light of Isaiah 43:19, our theme for the year, I invite you to see, with the Spirit’s help, all the good that our confreres are doing, in order to thank God for this and at the same time to notice what new thing is emerging within and around us, in our communities and in the world of mission. This attentiveness to the signs of the times is a characteristic that has accompanied us from our very beginnings in the Church. Let us open our eyes to the reality of sin, of injustice, of the disregard for human dignity which surrounds us; let us listen to the “cry of the poor,” of the marginalized, of those who do not count, and let us be ready to act there where the Church calls us to our mission in today’s world.
Silvano Marisa MS