As promised, I arrived in Rome on Friday to attend the General Chapter. Yesterday (Saturday) was a free day. I went for a walk to Saint Mary Major and back in the morning and, in the afternoon, I walked to Saint Peter’s with Brother Martin Denny, but this time we came home by bus. The Chapter is being held at our Generalate, the Monastery of Saints John and Paul, which is near the Coliseum. When I returned to Santi Giovanni e Paolo (to give the house its Italian name), a pack of documents had been left outside each room. Some of these I had seen before, but one I hadn’t yet seen was the list of participants in this 45th General Chapter of the Passionists.
There are eighty-six (or perhaps eighty-seven) capitulars, that is voting members of the Chapter. There are also some guests, including Father Kevin Dance (whom I haven’t seen yet) who heads the Congregation’s recently established presence at the United Nations. Also listed among the guests is Bishop Paul Michael Boyle, a former Superior General; former Superiors General (-Father José Agustin Orbegozo is also here) are ex officio members of the Chapter, so I don’t know if you lose that right by becoming a bishop or if Paul Michael’s name just got on to the wrong list. We’ll find out in due course.
Then there are all the people who make the whole thing work. The Moderator is a Norbertine from the Netherlands, Father Ward Cortvriendt. The Secretary of the Chapter is Brother Laurence Finn, a Canadian from the Korean Province. Laurence was secretary to the General for six years, so he knows his way around the place. He has a team in the secretariat. Then there are interpreters and translators (the first group deal with the spoken word and the second group with the written word), and there are commissions for communications, the Liturgy, and logistics. This last group is to take care of all the practical things and is composed mostly of people who live here permanently.
Of the eighty-six (-let’s call it that for the moment) capitulars, eleven are members of the General Curia and reside at Santi Giovanni e Paolo. The breakdown of the others by country/region of residence (not by nationality or place of birth) is: Italy 13; Spain and Portugal 8; Northern Europe (from Ireland to the Ukraine) 14: Latin America 15; the United States 6; Asia and the Pacific 10 (-this includes two from Australia); Africa 7. Nationalities would give a different breakdown; a number of those living in Latin America are Spanish, two of those coming from Africa are Italian, the regional superior from Papua New Guinea is Australian, and the delegate elected by the Province in the Philippines, Father Gabriel Baldostamon, is working in Sweden. A new system for electing delegates means that this Chapter’s composition represents more faithfully the geographical spread of the Congregation which, given the Chapter’s theme of Restructuring, is a very good thing.
The Opening Mass of the Chapter will be celebrated this morning; pictures and text to follow. Until then, then, Ciao e Buona Domenica!