A Desire for Closeness

A gathering took place at the Casa Generalizia in Rome from June 23–26, 2015 in which the General Council met together with the DPP Provincial Council in a spirit of fraternity, solidarity and mutual sharing. Fr. Alfonso in opening the meeting expressed his desire for closeness to all of the provincial councils, and in particular the DPP Council during this time. Father General recognized the growth of the province, and with this growth and the heart of a father, a wish to be close with the provincial superior, his council and the confreres and missions of the province. He said that we enter into the week with a mutual availability to listen to each other, to be enlightened in certain decisions and to provide answers to situations and circumstances that present themselves. Fr. Rathinam expressed the joy of participating in this meeting near the 50th anniversary of the ordination of the Superior General and was thankful that we were in the General House to share our joys and sorrows. Fr. Rathinam sees dynamism, enthusiasm and revitalization within the province, but also recognizes its challenges. He recalled the words of Fr. Alfonso during his morning homily of the gift of diversity in the province while calling for unity in the diversity.council meeting at rome 1 (1)
A full agenda was presented for the meeting and it began with a reflection by Fr. Rathinam of the “Task of the Servant Leader and his Collaborators.” He spoke of Jesus leadership as a service; a selfless and self-sacrificing service with the province’s leaders called to this leadership style which brings fullness of life to the people. This is the challenge for the leaders; to imitate Jesus and the ways of Fr. Guanella. Fr. Rathinam also spoke of the priorities of religious life in the DPP and the mission and the challenge of the “domestication” of religious life. With these initial reflections of Fr. Rathinam forming a backdrop for the meeting, Fr. Alfonso proposed that the meeting move into the areas that can be considered by the province and those areas which would require the input and support of the General Council.
The joint meeting proceeded with Fr. Rathinam presenting his update and then the updates from the individual nations were provided by the link councilors. Fr. Gustavo DeBonis, General Council, liaison to the DPP, then presented his report and reflection on his recent visit to Vietnam and the Philippines. This brought a close to the end of the first day.
The second day began with presentations on Vocation Promotion and Formation in each of the four nations of the province and the “lights and shadows” were identified with the concomitant desire to address the areas in need of growth. Of particular note in the area of formation was the presentation and discussion of the General Guidelines that were established by the General Council for the Monsignor Bacciarini International Seminary in Rome. These guidelines were sent to each of the provincials. The second day closed with a presentation by Fr. Luigi DeGiambattista on the topic of “inter-culturality” and it was based on a conference, given in Rome five years ago by the Consolata Fathers, that was entitled “Inter-culturality: A New Paradigm for Mission.” This presentation recognized not only the international nature of the Institute but also the reality of the inter-cultural composition of the congregation. Fr. Luigi emphasized this reality as one which impacts both formation and mission.
As the meeting moved into the third day, Fr. Silvio DeNard joined the meeting and spoke of the presence of the Servants of Charity in E. Providence, RI. This was followed with a presentation of various topics related to the financial administration of the DPP. Clarifications on the financial report of the 3rd DPP Provincial Chapter were provided as well as a presentation by the ASCI team and a report by Fr. Joseph Rinaldo on the Legacy project of the Chelsea, MI community.
The final day opened with guidelines being presented concerning sending confreres to mission posts “ad extra” or outside the province of origin. Also, the situations of specific confreres were discussed and along with the closing celebrations of the centenary, the communication of the motions and proposals from the provincial chapter, the 7th consultation of the congregation and areas of financial administration.
The meeting fulfilled the desires of Fr. Alfonso, and it was productive and fruitful in witnessing to the fraternal support of the General Council and Father General. Hospitality in the spirit of Fr. Guanella was most evident, along with a closeness that was concretely felt and strengthened.

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