Mass today was celebrated in language groups.
The morning prayer reflection was on the theme of listening and discernment. The opening session was chaired by Fr Denis Travers and began with an update from Fr Juan Maria Santamaria on the situation in Yurimaguas, Peru.
Sister Christine Anderson f.c.j. then introduced the morning’s work. One of the main tasks of this Synod is looking at the viability of the configurations. The configurations were an experiment in solidarity in formation, personnel and finance; now the experiment has to be evaluated. Human beings find difficulty in changing, but we have within us the resources needed for change. These are: 1) an open mind, the enemy of which is judging before we have heard everything; 2) an open heart, which allows us to get in touch with our vulnerability, and here the enemy is cynicism; 3) an open will, from which comes the desire for what is best for the mission and values of the Congregation; the enemy here is fear or doubt. The evaluation would be done in configuration groups. The groups were asked to look in a critical way at their own configuration and ask themselves if it is viable. Sister Christine suggested a viability tool, consisting of six areas for examination: 1) leadership capacity, strategic thinking, focus on Passionist mission; 2) government structures, decision making; 3) financial planning, accountability; 4) initial formation, ongoing formation; 5) communication networks, relatedness to General Council and other configurations; 6) in the light of all this, can you say you are working effectively towards solidarity of formation, personnel and finance within your configuration? Has your configuration the capacity to offer solidarity to other configurations? The Synod members were now invited to go into configuration groups, after a period of personal discernment. The groups were given two questions: Do you think the composition of your configuration is viable or do you suggest any changes? Regarding the other configurations, have you suggestions to make them increase solidarity in formation, personnel and finance?
In the afternoon, each configuration reported back on its discussions:
Configuration of Jesus Crucified: The majority of members agree to continue as a configuration, using the model of a neural network with various nodes. A priority is to identify a project for mission which will unite the various entities. There is a need to continue working to involve all the membership of the configuration. The group identified reasons for continuing: the great richness of difference that exists in the configuration; the strong missionary tradition which helps them not to be closed in on themselves. Sharing across configurations for formation (initial, ongoing and formation of laity) would be helpful. CBE should be encouraged to continue working with CPA. We should not establish lifestyles which are not in harmony with the conditions in the country in which we live and work, as this becomes a counter witness to religious poverty.
Passionist Asian/Pacific Configuration (PASPAC): The configuration sees itself as being viable, but wishes to develop communication at grass roots level, through a newsletter or website. They suggest that the General Consultor of reference should be the configuration co-ordinator. Configurations should consist of entities which are in close geographical proximity, but should be open to sending personnel to other areas. Concern was expressed about the importance of financial stability, especially in Africa. There is need for a financial system which can deal with this.
Configuration of Blessed Eugene Bossilkov (CEB): This was a very difficult discussion. CEB is blocked at the moment because the four Italian provinces who are members have to wait until their provincial chapters next year in order to consult their members. In addition, two provinces (ASSUM and VULN) prefer to conserve their autonomy and wish to return to the North European sector. These two have difficulty with the form of government which will follow the creation of a single province for the other five member entities. Perhaps this configuration has to be looked at in the context of Europe as a whole; possibly its future is to be seen more in terms of a federation, with a missionary focus on Eastern Europe. The configuration proposed that a Solidarity Fund for Africa be set up. A number of members suggested that the Synod discuss paragraph 39 of the second part of the Superior General’s report (on a possible norm for decision-making in the configurations).
Sacred Heart: The members agreed unanimously on this configuration’s viability, because it has the approval of the three Provincial Chapters in Spain and also of the members of the Vice-Province of Colombia. The configuration needs to incorporate its Latin American members into the process, which is not for survival but to further a charismatic mission. The group has journeyed together in terms of formation and plans to go forward together. Northern Europe and CPA should keep in mind the co-operation that is envisaged between young and older parts of the Congregation. The Configuration of Jesus Crucified seems to cover a very large geographical area.
Conference of Passionists of Africa (CPA): The configuration affirms its viability. Member entities come from one continent and one cultural context, with one theologate: All this fosters solidarity. This is a young and dynamic group. Challenges faced by the configuration include: difficulties in communication caused by distance and access to means of travel; limited decision making powers because the majority of the entities are vicariates, still dependent on provinces in Europe. The configuration seeks financial support for formation and wishes to strengthen the role of the co-ordinator. CPA wishes to promote co-operation across configurations. The co-ordinator should not be the leader of one of the entities; then he can devote himself to the task with greater freedom.
North European Sector of Passionists (NESP): The configuration is viable as it stands, with structures to support the elderly members and to promote formation, both initial and ongoing, and a diversity of ministries. There are no suggestions for other configurations. There is a need to develop the Solidarity Fund in order to meet the needs of the Congregation worldwide.
Responses to the report included the following: The Commission for Solidarity in Finances will prepare a text on funds for Africa and other needy parts of the Congregation. Restructuring is for the vitality of the whole Congregation. CPA, although lacking in material resources, wishes to contribute to that vitality particularly through solidarity in personnel. There was discussion, and clarifications, on the desire expressed by ASSUM and VULN to leave the CEB configuration.
A discussion followed on the proposed norm for decision-making in the configurations. There was a desire to empower the configurations but also a wish not to stifle the process by a juridic text. The text needs to have clarity and to reflect the mind of the Synod. The configurations are to be places of dialogue for mission and solidarity, but they need a way of going forward when unanimity is not reached. It was agreed that the text would be referred to a specialist group chosen by the CC.
The day concluded in the Retreat House Chapel with Evening Prayer and Eucharistic Adoration.