Last update : 2001-08-07

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The Chapter's Chronicle

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August 1st

Remembering Bishop Pierre Claverie, OP, assassinated five years ago

The provincial of the Philippines presided at the celebration of St. Alphonsus Maria Liguori. The preacher was a Philippine friar, one of the former sons of the Rosary province. He speaks Spanish perfectly but today he didn't demonstrate it, speaking instead in English without notes. He didn't need them to tell us that we have treasures and pearls which we must care for: our faith, our vocation. He told the story of the life and death of a friar from the United States' Holy Name province who came to the Philippines as a military chaplain and who later spent his life attending to the lepers. He himself died a leper. The province has initiated the process of his beatification. The Gospel was proclaimed by a Malaysian friar from the Canadian province. The ceremonies are becoming simpler in direct proportion as what happens on the floor below, that is to say, in the place of the capitular assembly, becomes more complicated. During the entrance, the chapel resounded with the fantastic organ, played by the Province of Saint-Joseph's Provincial. Just yesterday some photographs appeared in the chapel's entry which explained the technical feat that was accomplished in order to set up the organ and put it where it is.

The discussion in the hall began with "Vocation and Formation." It was an original text. The term most used in the document wasn't vocation or formation, but globalization. It spoke of "the heart of today's vocations: the reality of globalization; globalization as a context; globalization as a challenge; globalization as suitable material". Later it spoke of "the heart of formation: contemplari et contemplata aliis, contemplation and initial formation, contemplation in continuing formation, contemplation and the formators". All of this is because "the themes of globalization and contemplation are, for the most part, inseparable…". It also spoke about vocations and formation.

The document has gone through six drafts in commission. Again there were amendments and amendments of the amendments and many interventions from the floor. On two occasions there was a plea to consider the matter discussed, when there were so many others waiting their turn to speak.

Silence and meditation in common were recommended as necessary for the houses of formation. It is already in the book of the Constitutions and not only applies to the houses of formation but to all houses. If it was recommended it must be because it doesn't seem to be happening.

Afternoon session: The Chapter Steering Committee asked the assembly for the approval of a new interpretation of the procedures in the plenary sessions, to the end of avoiding eternal dialogues about explanatory aspects and to center more on the juridical aspects: petitions, ordinances, recommendations…, etc. These norms have been in force since the Mexico Chapter and they need a more efficient structure. The moderators have been charged with the responsibility for a new editing. In order to speak about the prologue and the explanatory texts, one has to register before hand with the secretary or send written amendments. Nothing extra is needed to speak about the juridical aspects.

Everything referring to government was approved after approving the one point which had been pending about the relations between provinces and vicariates.

It was also approved that we consider what is missing from "Challenges for the mission: Globalization", concrete points on the utilization of the media for social communication.

In the document there was a request for various meetings of the Order in regions or zones so that attention may be given to the sects and new spiritual currents, without specifying whether they are within or outside of the Church. All concur that there is an attitude of resistance and fear toward other options, a great preoccupation for the religious, proselytism, and acceptance of the neo-liberal society.

A call was for the Order be present, by means of its Commission for Justice and Peace, in decision-making centers; a preoccupation for the safeguarding of creation; the defense of the poor of the Order, that is the entities and houses which need financial and human resources. The document was approved.

Some points from the document on "the challenges" remained to be approved. The document continued in its routine of being much amended in the hall, although no one had presented the amendments in written form. The new norms will be in force tomorrow.

The commission formulated four recommendations for the work of the Master and the Curia. But the officials of the Curia, who had a voice but no vote, were all here. And what a voice they had! After their intervention the commission retired their four recommendations. Strategists always say that one retired in time is better than a defeat. The prologue-and with it the document-was approved.

At the beginning Vespers, Friar Eric, the provincial of France, reminded us that on August 1, 1996, Bishop Pierre Claverie, OP, bishop of Orán, was assassinated. He read a paragraph of the homily preached by Bishop Claverie one month before he died. In it he answered the questions they were asking him, since the beginning of the Algerian drama - why was he continuing in Algeria: "For the cause of Jesus, because it is he who is suffering here, in this violence from which no one escapes, crucified again in the flesh of thousands of innocents".

Happenings in the Chapter Hall…

The president of the Commission on "Vocations and Formation" warned: "Be careful with the interventions, I'm have a doctorate in psychology." The narrator greeted the assembly in this way: "Good morning, my name is Freud." Those present were not very impressed.

One chapter member made a clarification in case anyone had not understood: "The 'breaking points' are not seismic movements."

On the subject that we should support those who are capable and who like to write, someone commented that it is not easy to discern when one has the capacity, but not the liking, that some write without liking it, and others like it but haven't the capacity. Such is the total range of the healthy Dominican pluralism.

Another admitted his small command of French: "I can't do more than read a menu". puce

(Translated from Spanish)


Design & management : Fr. Yves Bériault, o.p.