Last update : 2001-08-02

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The Chapter's Chronicle

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July 30th

Good work in the Chapter hall

On this serene and sunny day, the liturgy belonged to the Orient: China, Vietnam, and Japan. It was a very simple Eucharistic celebration in English with the habitual solemnity and more moments of silence. The vicar of the Vietnam vicariate in Canada presided. The vicar of the Rosary province in Japan preached in Spanish. Friar Vicente Arribas presented some fine ideas: Saint Dominic always dreamed about going to faraway countries. In the 16th century those faraway countries were, above all, those in the far East. That is where the Dominican friars went - to the Philippines, China, Japan and later Vietnam - on a mission sealed in blood. Today the mission continues because, after many years of mission and the seed-blood of Christians, the Orient continues to be reluctant to accept the Christian faith. But the dream has not vanished. The Orient continues to be a challenge for our mission and the litmus test of our faith. We cannot carry our faith to a profoundly spiritual place without a mystic.

When we arrived at the chapter hall we found in our places some paper flowers. Timothy explained that they were a gift from the lay Dominicans from Norfolk Prison here in the United States. Each flower represented two hours of work. It was very impressive because these lay Dominicans are condemned to life imprisonment. The Colombians were congratulated for the victory of Colombia in winning the Americas' Soccer Cup on the Mexican coast and those from the United States for Armstrong's victory in the Tour de France.

Changes in the Constitutions were promoted by the Commission on Government. It was approved that provincials be allowed to assign the friars to other provinces or convents, always in agreement with the affected provincials and advising the Master of the Order. It is a change in favor of itinerancy for the friars. Before this one always had to solicit the permission of the Master.

In Bologna it had been approved that each house with four friars could send a delegate to the provincial chapter, if it also had been approved by the statutes of the province. At times large convents do not have the same dynamism as these smaller houses. This number from Bologna was annulled.

To the patriarch Abraham, patron of diminutions, was entrusted a chapter member who solicited that with 20 friars a vicariate have the right to a representative in the General Chapter. Until now it has been 10. The commission had proposed 25. "God, if there are 20 good friars would it not be possible to have a representative?" It was approved.

The afternoon began with the economy. There was enough unanimity about the related fund raising and about the funds to be looked after once whatever comes may get to us.

There was more complication about sharing the costs of the chapter. We wanted to change that which the constitutions had foreseen, in order to make the payment proportional to the income of the provinces: that those who have more pay more. Everyone was in agreement with this principle of solidarity, but it was necessary to have more transparency in presenting the accounts, so it wouldn't be the case that one province would pay more for doing them well while another be favored by doing the opposite. When all see what this contribution of solidarity implies, it will be approved. Some provincials can sleep peacefully tonight.

The text which proposed the spirituality of the syndic, an unappealing responsibility, was approved. It is said that it is the job of the syndic not only to do the accounts and balances, but also to worry about the poor and all that is needed for the friars; it is a spirituality of service within the mission of the community. No one knows if with this added spirituality there will be more candidates for the job. This was not confirmed, but instead, the proposal from Bologna was approved, so that the syndic of the Order would have a vote in the general council.

In the second session of the afternoon we returned to the matters of government. It was proposed that the provincial chapters should be well prepared by preparatory commissions. May the governing chapter not be in a hurry to finish and later leave the provincial alone facing danger.

Various texts presented seemed to be made to better control the vicariates from the distant province. They should give an accounting to the mother province and continue being submissive sons. The assembly rejected some proposals of the commission. Too much submission is not good for adult sons.

There was a proposition to shorten the length of the chapters: two weeks for the definitors and provincials, three for the elective chapter. In the final ballot, the proposal was thrown out by two votes. What was said at Bologna will continue in force: three weeks for the chapters of definitors and provincials; four for the elective chapter.

There was a proposal that the first chapter after the election of the Master be four, not three, years later. The other two, every three years. It was approved as a beginning step, not as an ordinance. If the next two succeeding chapters confirm it, the Master will spend 10 years in office.

Re: official languages. The proposal was: "Revoking what was said in Bologna, let us ordain that during their institutional studies all the friars whose language is not English learn it and those who have English as their native tongue, learn Spanish." The French-speaking spoke of how French is the language of diverse cultures and that if we were speaking about an English globalization, that we would have to speak the English of Shakespeare. In Africa no one speaks Spanish, so why would they study it for the one time they would need it for a general chapter? The English speakers could think about why they should study Spanish if, in accord with the proposal, within a matter of years everyone would speak English. The proposal was discarded by a small margin. The three official modern languages continue as is.

Vespers followed immediately. If is not easy to pass so quickly from such concerns to the calm of prayer. The atmosphere of the chapter is splendid: one discusses with serenity and respect, almost with affection for the opposing opinions, and with great freedom. There is a loftiness in the dialogue. puce

(Translated from Spanish)

 

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