Inter-Chapter Day 3: Discussing the Regional Reports
The third day of the Inter-Chapter had the Latin America region presenting to the session on their region. Frs José Ariel MARTINEZ and Jésus FUERTES presented the joys and the challenges of the Latin America region. The social problems and human rights violations are some of the issues that the region faces. The Inter-chapter participants commended the Oblates of the region for the work they do in trying to implement the vision of the 36th General Chapter especially through media channels such as the four Oblate radio stations present in the region.
The participants concluded the morning with a moment of sharing in small groups. This sharing allowed the participants to reflect on the reports presented by the regions. The time of sharing in linguistic groups was concluded by regional Eucharistic celebrations. The afternoon was dedicated to the feedback bygroups to all participants. The groups gave a great appreciation for the work and the presentations that were done by the regions. These group feedbacks were divided into three crucial questions that accompanied the groups in their reflections. These questions were:
- what set my heart on fire during the regional report presentations?
- What are the areas of resistance that still exist? And lastly,
- what important aspects were missing in the regional reports?
This was a great time of fraternal sharing aimed at the advancement of the 36th General Chapter vision and its implementation. The groups gave concrete proposals to help advance the work and mission of the Oblates throughout the world.
Day 4 – Report from General Administration
The fourth day of the inter-chapter session in Obra began with group photo sessions. This set forth a relaxed yet focused climate for the proceedings of the day. There were other reasons to celebrate on this fourth day of the inter-chapter. These included the 243rd Independence Day for the United States of America, and the 10th priestly anniversary of Fr Antonio PONCE from the US province.
The participants of inter-chapter were very eager to hear the report from the Central Government of the congregation. This report, presented by members of the General Administration, gave an overview of how the Central Government has responded to the calls of the 36th General Chapter. It covered all six calls of the chapter. It also put forth the vision for the next three years paving the path for the next General Chapter.
In the discussions between the Central Government and the participants of the inter-chapter, some of the issues that stood out (amongst many others) were: ongoing formation, (Oblate) missionary identity andthe structuring of the JPIC. A number of committees have been setup by the Central Government to share the tasks of implementing the decisions that were taken at the last General Chapter. The afternoon session was dedicated to the call to re-structure some of the units. The Cruz del Sur, OMISA and Mediterranean provinces shared their experiences on the journey to the restructuring of their units.
The Superior General, Fr Louis LOUGEN, thanked the regions for the work done so far in putting into action the six calls of the General Chapter at the regional level. A call to a more vibrant participation of the laity to the mission and charism of the congregation was made.
Inter-Chapter Day 5 – Safeguarding Minors and Vulnerable Adults
The inter-chapter is drawing to the end of its first week in Obra. The Church has been very much challenged by the sexual abuse scandals on minors and vulnerable adults. The Church has continuously called all religious congregations to reflect on how they handle the sexual abuses of minors and vulnerable adults. It is in response to the calls of the Church and the 36th General Chapter that the inter-capitulars dedicated to a session on safeguarding minors and vulnerable adults.
Mrs. Suzanne Phelan, designated liaison officer for the Anglo-Irish province, animated the day. She gave rich personal and professional experiences to the inter-capitulars pointing out important issues around the sexual abuse cases. She made an invitation to help, not only the victims of abuse, but also the perpetrators. She invited the superiors to deal with the cases with great humanity.
Suzanne reminded the inter-capitulars of the Gospel call to allow the little ones to come to contact with God. The responsibility of the Church is to listen to the voices of the little ones. The discussions amongst inter-capitulars revealed how much the congregation is dedicated to safeguarding children and vulnerable adults.
Inter-Chapter Day 6: Evaluation of the First Week
Frs Adriano TITONE and Leo PHILOMIN
The sixth day of the Inter-chapter meeting focused on what has been going on during the first week. Frs Leo PHILOMIN and Adriano TITONE led the session inviting the inter-capitulars to take time and reflect on the week’s events. The main objective of this session was to look back at how the calls of the 36th General Chapter have been lived out in our missionary activities since the end of the Chapter.
The inter-capitulars noted that all of the six calls of the chapter have been integrated into the missionary activities of each unit. However, this integration and implementation of the calls have not been an easy journey. Each unit has tried to prioritise the manner in which they respond to them according to the resources they have. There was a strong call from the inter-capitulars to a stronger collaboration within units and at a regional level. The calls to interculturality, to the restructuring of units, and to focus on the first and ongoing formation, were amongst those at the centre of the day’s proceedings.