18 new Spiritan superiors met with the General Council from 18 September through 29 September.
The last such two Meetings were held in March 2020 and September 2022 the former having concluded just two days before the official announcement of the COVID-19 outbreak and the lockdown.
The new superiors were from many different provinces and groups around the globe, living and working in very diverse social, economic, cultural and political situations.
Ten superiors were from Africa, three from Indian Ocean, three from the Caribbean and two from South America. One of them was in his late 30s, eight were in their 40s, eight were in their 50s, and one was 64. So it was a group of dynamic and motivated Superiors for the demanding mission of leadership and the animation of their circumscriptions.
The meeting is a very important annual meeting for the members of the General Council and has three main goals: First of all, it gives the General Council an opportunity to get a sense of the challenges that our Spiritan leaders around the world are facing. Second, it gives our new superiors a sense of the various services available to them in the Generalate and the various ways in which we might assist them in carrying out their ministry. Third, it is an opportunity for the members of the General Council and the new superiors to work together towards a common understanding and a common vision of what it means to be a Spiritan leader in the world today which is vital for a decentralised organization.
The opening liturgy, presided by Fr. Alain Mayama, the Superior General, emphasized self-giving and leadership as service to others. A striking example of this service is given to us by our founders Claude François Poullart des Places and François Marie Paul Libermann, in their ability to lead others. They were spiritual mentors for their brothers in the imitation of Christ. For that reason there was a ceremony of washing of feet incorporated into the Mass, carried out by the Superior General, Fr. Alain Mayama and assisted by his first Assistant, Fr. Jeff Duaime.
The meeting started with presentations by each new superior on the reality of his circumscription and followed by some discussions. Then members of the General Council gave inputs on Leadership and Animation, functioning of the Unions of Circumscriptions, Confreres in irregular situation, Interreligious Dialogue (IRD), Canonical process, Intercultural communities, Central Development Office/Mission Office, Justice Peace and Integrity of Creation (JPIC), Mission Appointments, Finances, Spiritan formation, Safeguarding Minors & Vulnerable Adults, Spiritan Education and Lay Spiritan Associates. The Superiors also had opportunity to visit and see different services at the Generalate. Fr. Marc Whelan from France and Lucy Franks, Consultant in leadership and governance from Ireland were invited to give an input on leadership. Fr. Kenneth Okoli and Fr. Chika Onyejiuwa gave input on CDO and JPIC. Br. Carmo Gomes from Portugal was invited to help in audio-visual communication and translation.
The meeting was not all work; the new superiors had an opportunity to visit the city of Rome, to attend the Papal audience and to spend a day in Assisi, the birthplace of Saint Francis.
Our new leaders have dispersed; they have gone back to their circumscriptions, to their places of work. We hope that they now possess new vitality and new perspectives for the ministry they carry out on behalf of the Congregation.