Four Weeks of Discernment & Sharing
On 13 AUG 18 the XIX General Chapter began with the celebration of the Eucharist with Archabbot Jeremias Schroeder OSB presiding in the abbey church of St. Ottilien. Afterwards, the delegates gathered for the first session in which the scrutators, the secretary of the Chapter, the presidium and the recording secretary were elected. In addition, the facilitators, the periti, parliamentary and other organizational procedures proposed by the Superior General were approved as well.
The second day of the General Chapter was devoted to an overview of the state of the Society. This included the Unit reports on Mission and Formation. It also involved the Generalate’s report of what has been achieved during the last 6 years. In addition, the Superior General gave his report which included some priorities and paradigms to guide the Society toward the future. Afterwards the capitulars were invited to share and contribute their insights and concerns with respect to the reports.
The Chapter proceeded with a lecture by Claretian Father José Cristo Rey García Paredes about the new understanding of mission and the role of the Holy Spirit in our mission. The delegates then worked on the input of the previous days and reflected individually and in language groups, in order to develop a draft of priorities and guidelines for our Society during the next 6 years.
Then, for many days in a row, the capitulars met in working committees to study six different topics, based on a series of proposals previously presented to the General Chapter: SDS Identity & Vocation, Salvatorian Family, Mission, Formation, Administrative Organization, Constitution & General Directory, Finances. In between, the General Treasurer explained the overall financial situation of the Society and several Units presented their new social projects and apostolates initiated in honor of the Centenary of the death of our Founder.
The capitulars received another external spiritual input, this time by Jesuit Fr. Stefan Kiechle. He spoke about the qualities needed of a Superior General and the process of spiritual discernment. He also spoke about the principle of religious indifference and availability. This was followed by discussions and a review of the procedures for the election of the Superior General.
During the course of the General Chapter, the capitulars also welcomed Mr. Christian Patzl, newly elected President of the International Community of the Divine Savior (ICDS) as an observer along with Mrs. Rita van Olmen, one of the councilers. Also, they welcomed two representatives of the Salvatorian Sisters, Sr. Edith Bramberger, Superior General, and Sr. María Yaneth Moreno, Vicaress. They also welcomed as a special guest, His Eminence, Cardinal Reinhard Marx, Archbishop of Munich.
During the last weeks of the General Chapter the capitulars were busy continuing to work their way through the many proposals and, in particular, discussing the proposed Changes to Chapter 7 of the Constitution and General Directory. In addition, the Writing Committee drafted the Final Document which will contain all the ordinances and recommendations of the XIX General Chapter. On the other hand, the revisions to the Constitution need to be authorized by the Vatican. All Administrative Units will have to hold implementation chapters within 9 months after the end of this XIX General Chapter but no later than 15 JUN 19.
Fortunately, it was not all grim drudgery: on all three Sundays the capitulars had the opportunity to participate in excursions to destinations nearby St. Ottilien chosen for their particular historical and artistical interest and beauty. These outings were highly appreciated by the capitulars. In particular they included a visit to our parish and provincialate at St. Willibald, Munich; a trip to Neuschwanstein and Fr. Pancratius Pfeiffer’s nearby home; and, a visit to Bad Wurzach and the Shrine of Maria Steinbach staffed by our German confreres. The capitulars had a chance to evaluate the General Chapter in two ways. First, they completed a form and then gave oral comments in a plenary session dedicated to this purpose. Despite individual concerns about the shortage of time to discuss some major reports and contributions, the overall Chapter evaluation was that of a highly intense and exciting spiritual experience which allowed every single capitular to be and to feel part of the process of shaping the Society for the next 6 years.
A big “Thank you!” to all who assisted the capitulars, especially to the two facilitators, Sr. Dulcelene Ceccato SDS and Fr. Dennis Thiessen SDS. Thanks also to Fr. Raúl Gómez Ruiz, Fr. Roman Wroblewski and Mrs. Eva Teichmann for preparing and compiling the Chapter documents. Special thanks to the 8 interpreters and to Fr. Hubert Veeser for organizing the beautiful outings and evening events in loco. Many thanks also to the six scholastics which were present to help with all kinds of chores.