From February 24th to March 6th, 18 new Spiritan superiors came from 13 countries, but one superior could not make it, because he was sick.
After the warm and fraternal welcome of the new superiors, Fr John Fogarty, the General Superior, underlined that the new superiors represented enormous but rich diversity of countries, background and ministries and not least the age difference. The meeting provided an opportunity to share joys, hopes and challenges, to get to know each other, to learn different aspects of leadership in our Congregation and how to work in collaboration.
The opening liturgy, presided by Fr. Jean Marc Sierro, General Bursar and member of the General Council, emphasised self-giving and leadership as service to others. For that reason there was a ceremony of washing of feet incorporated into the Mass, carried out by the Superior General, Fr John Fogarty and assisted by the main celebrant.
The meetings 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, Justice Peace and Integrity of Creation (JPIC), Interreligious Dialogue (IRD), Canonical process, Mission Appointments, Financial accountability and self-reliance, Spiritan formation, Safeguarding of Minors, Lay Spiritan Associates. There were also presentations on CESS and KIBANDA by Philippe Engel and Michael Begley.
The spiritual focal point of the meeting was a pilgrimage to Assisi, in the steps of Fr. Francis Libermann, our second founder, who undertook this journey in 1840. The pilgrim confreres had Mass at the basilica of St. Francis of Assisi. The main celebrant, Fr Bede Ukwuije again reiterated the theme of leadership as humble service, reminding the new superiors of Pope Francis’ warning to Church leaders of the temptation of transforming themselves into masters and believing themselves to be superior to others rather than at their service. And he concluded his homily saying “Since, by divine providence, we are celebrating this Mass in the basilica of St Francis of Assisi, the humble and peaceful servant of God, let us ask him to help us to always remember that all we are and have come from God and that all authority belongs to Him.”
The Meeting of the new superiors came to a close with Mass celebrated by the Superior General followed by a cultural evening. There is no doubt that the new superiors have returned to their respective circumscriptions with happy memories and enriched with new zeal in their ministry of leadership.