Plenary Council Meeting and a Visit to the U.S.

IMG_3943The DPP Council met in a plenary meeting from June 16th to the 19th in Chelsea, Michigan and it proved to be a fruitful and productive meeting. However, prior to the meeting, there was the opportunity for attending a special event, recognizing a significant anniversary and visiting the houses within the U.S.
Fr. Gustavo De Bonis, General Secretary of the Servants of Charity, along with Frs. Rathinam, Kulandai, Visuwasam, and Dennis arrived on June 7th in Chelsea. This arrival was planned in order for all to be a part of the re-dedication and blessing, on June 8th, of the newly renovated Fr. Guanella Hall at the St. Louis Center. Bishop Earl Boyea, Bishop of Lansing, celebrated the Mass and blessed the home and this day gave Fr. Gustavo and the council members a window into the future vision of ministry and mission of the St. Louis Center in serving persons with intellectual/developmental disabilities (I/DD) who are aging as well as to witness the active involvement of staff and laity in the program. Fr. Rathinam met individually with all the members of the Chelsea community on June 9th and 10th and, on June 11th, the five confreres traveled to Springfield, Pennsylvania in order to visit Don Guanella Village in Springfield and to come to know of the ministry and presence of the Servants of Charity established nearly 54 years ago. For Fr. Kulandai and Fr. Visu, it continued their experience of first-time visitors to the U.S. June 12th marked the celebration of the 25th anniversary of the presence of the Servants of Charity in the Philippines and this special event was remembered at Mass in Springfield that morning. The traveling party proceeded on June 13th with a train trip to the Parish of the Sacred Heart in E. Providence, Rhode Island, to join Fr. Silvio and Fr. Peter in the 3 day celebration of the annual parish feast. It was a simple yet wonderful celebration of the parish family and again witnessed to the confreres the love and esteem that are held for the priests of the parish and the Servants of Charity. Finally, a short flight was taken to Michigan on June 15th in order to prepare to begin the plenary meeting on June 16th.
Fr. Charlton arrived in Chelsea on June 14th and the provincial council, along with Fr. Gustavo and Fr. Joseph Rinaldo, provincial treasurer, gathered for the commencement of the plenary meeting on the morning of June 16th. Fr. Joseph, superior of the Chelsea community, opened the meeting with a prayer and welcomed all to Chelsea and the U.S. For Fr. Charlton, this was also a first-time visit to the U.S. Fr. Gustavo then passed on greetings and wishes from the General Council and Fr. Dennis, link to the U.S., also welcomed all and gave a short overview of the U.S. and the Catholic Church in the U.S. Fr. Rathinam then gave a short reflection, “Feeding and Leading- Being a Good Shepherd Today.” Over the next four days, a full agenda was covered focusing on the Pastoral Plan of the congregation and province, updates from the Provincial Superior and from each of the nations, the canonical visitation of the Provincial Superior, discussion and preparation for the third Provincial Chapter, and the financial administration of the province and matters connected with it. In addition, the DPP’s statutes and committees were discussed along with the situation of the communities in the U.S., review of the new obediences and other assignments, youth and vocation ministry and various other topics such as preparation for the 100th Anniversary of the Death  of the Founder, difficulties with visa processing, and various requests from the communities and the confreres.
All in all, the council members were grateful for the presence of Fr. Gustavo and his input and insights contributed greatly to the meeting. In closing the meeting, Fr. Gustavo offered his remarks and Fr. Rathinam expressed his appreciation to Fr. Gustavo, the council members, and Fr. Joseph for their participation and contribution.

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