Thursday, January 17, 2019
By tradition, General Chapters are moderated by a Religious from another Congregation. This 69th General Chapter of the Hospitaller Brothers of Saint John of God will be accompanied by Fr David Glenday, a Combonian Missionary and former Secretary-General of the International Union of Superiors Major. [The Hospitaller Brothers of Saint John of God]
Fr David, how do you handle a General Chapter of another Congregation which is not your own, and as the moderator into the bargain?
I am bowled over by so many feelings! Firstly, the honour given to me by the Brothers, and their trust. But also a sense of apprehension when I think of the responsibility placed upon me. It is the fourth time that I have accompanied a General Chapter for another Congregation. I have stepped into the boat with the Brothers, and now we are setting sail and will see where the wind and the tide will take us. I began to establish bonds with the Brothers two or three years ago, and I have had the joy of experiencing some important moments with them. Our Lord is steering us and in my experience I can say that He often leads us on unexpected routes.
What are the challenges posed by a General Chapter?
I would say that the main challenge is to find how to live our charism in a world in a permanent state of flux. I have no doubt about the topical relevance of the charism of the Hospitaller Order of Saint John of God. It’s a response to numerous current issues within our societies. The challenge is to succeed in discerning how to deploy it. How to manage institutions that have grown so large. How to respond to health care policies that are becoming increasingly more complex. How to come to terms with such wide cultural differences within the Order, between one part of the world and another. A General Chapter is an opportunity, but nothing can be taken for granted in advance. Hence the importance of living it prayerfully and with full confidence in God. Listening attentively to what the Holy Spirit wishes to tell us is of vital importance, associated with a meeting of cultures to avoid remaining inward-looking.
An attitude which is by no means obvious in an Order present in 54 countries!
I’m impressed by this cultural diversity within the Hospitaller Order the Saint John of God. It is already a miracle in itself to be able to work together with such diversity! It is by no means obvious, or even comfortable, to switch from one language to another all the time or to have headphones stuck to your ears for hours at a stretch... but the prospects, I think, are good. Now we have to pray and be trusting. The Holy Spirit say that each of us is made for each other. This Chapter is a great opportunity to call this to mind, and to support the Order in its mission to do good to the most vulnerable.
You place great stress on prayer. It is interesting to see that the many messages coming from Brothers and Co-workers all over the world unite in the prayer of the Capitulars!
This communion of universal prayer is very important, and a source of strength and light for the Hospitaller Order at this important moment in its history. There will of course be joyful moments but also more difficult times during this Chapter. This sense of communion is vital. It tells us that the charism of the Hospitaller Family is not the property of just a few, but is a gift to the Church and the world. And this participation of Brothers and Co-workers worldwide is also a gift. The Church will be enriched by this Chapter, I am convinced of it.