LETTER OF CONVOCATION
OF THE XIX GENERAL CHAPTER
“I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever remains in me, with me in him, bears fruit in plenty” (Jn 15, 5)
“In the meantime, be happy, calm and trust in God, who sees all, who can do everything and who loves us… You have placed all your trust in God” (Writings 172)
We greet you fraternally wishing you a happy Feast-Day of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. May this period of world pandemic, which we are still experiencing, help us to be ever more rooted in the Heart of the One who loves us tenderly and unconditionally and urges us to live in solidarity with those who suffer.
We wish, with this letter, to inaugurate a year-long journey of preparation for the moment of grace provided by the next General Chapter. We, the Members of the General Council, like all the Comboni Missionaries, have received the gift of the XVIII General Chapter and we have sought to plan our service according to the Chapter Acts. Now, the moment has come to invite you and to animate you, by means of a period of personal and community preparation, to receive the gift of the XIX General Chapter. We wish to do so by indicating four spiritual attitudes with which to live out this time:
- A strong sense of belonging and participation – During our years of service we have seen and bear witness to so many confreres living their daily lives of self-giving to the mission who have a strong sense of belonging and a deep awareness of being Comboni Missionaries of the Heart of Jesus, within a community of people consecrated to the mission. We encourage this and desire that this spirit of belonging to, or rather love for our Institute, may be the force that guides us during this journey of preparation for the next General Chapter. May all of us, from the elderly and sick confreres to the young confreres in initial formation, already feel invited, both as individuals and as communities, to reflect, to contribute and to discern.
- Grateful for the past – We are grateful for all our past, having in our hands the great gift of our Institute, a gift received from God and handed down to us by Saint Daniel Comboni and by the confreres who went before us. We remember especially that the year 2021 will see the 190th anniversary of the birth of Saint Daniel Comboni, the 175th of the Apostolic Vicariate of Central Africa, the 140th of the death of our Founder and the 25th of his beatification. We thank the Lord and we bear in our hearts the gift of the Comboni charism which we share with all the members of the Comboni Family: the Comboni Missionary Sisters, the Secular Comboni Missionaries, the Lay Comboni Missionaries and all our friends and benefactors who live and love according to the spirit of Saint Daniel Comboni.
- Living the present – The preparation for the next General Chapter will take into account the progress made during these years while developing the yearly themes: the Rule of Life, interculturality and ministeriality, allowing ourselves to be questioned by the concrete situation of the Institute, the Church and the world of today.
- Thinking of the future – We are aware that each General Chapter is a moment of grace and a new beginning that urges us not only to reflect upon the past but also to dream of our future; not just in the short term but looking many years ahead. It is important and necessary for us to ask ourselves where we want to be, as an Institute, during the coming years, looking ahead and planning, while remaining open and trustful of the workings of God, knowing that it is He who guides and sustains the Institute.
Convocation of the Chapter
As indicated in No. 147 of the Rule of Life, in a spirit of gratitude and hope, the Superior General, with the consent of all the General Council, by this letter convokes the XIX General Chapter of the Institute which will be held in Rome, at the General Curia. The Chapter Members must be present in Rome by Sunday, 29 August 2021, for a week of preparation. The Chapter will commence with a solemn Mass at 9.00 on Sunday 5 September 2021 and it is expected to conclude, with a solemn Eucharistic celebration, on Sunday 10 October 2021.
Towards the next General Chapter
As a journey of preparation for the next General Chapter, in light of what was shared with the Circumscription Superiors during the meeting held last February, all the confreres will continue being involved in different ways in the processes already begun in recent years:
- Revisiting and Revision of the Rule of Life
- Verification and Revision of Formation
- Ministeriality at the service of the requalification of our activities and presences
- Communion of material goods: sharing and sustainability
We invite all confreres to allow themselves to be accompanied, during this period of preparation for the XIX General Chapter, by the words of Jesus that we find in the Gospel of Saint John: “I am the vine, you are the branches. Anyone who remains in me, with me in him, bears fruit in plenty” (Jn 15, 5). We are indeed aware that our pastoral action springs from our being grafted onto the Lord and that our union with Him and His with us renders us capable of being mission, that is, to love God and the peoples he entrusts to us, as He has loved us. Let us also allow ourselves to be accompanied by the words of our Founder, Saint Daniel Comboni, who invites us to trust in God since we are loved by Him with an unconditional love and because he entrusts to us the mission that belongs to him.
As laid down in the Rule of Life (RL. 148-149), the confreres called to participate as Members of the XIX General Chapter are the following:
- Capitulars by Right: the Members of the General Council and the Provincial Superiors.
- Capitulars by Delegation: Priests and Brothers Members elected in accordance with the norms of the Rule of Life, Nos. 149-150.
Election of the Delegates
We note the importance of what is laid down by the Rule of Life (No. 150) for the election of delegates to the Chapter:
- The General Secretary will send the lists, updated to 1 September 2020, to the Provincial Superiors/Delegates, of the confreres with active and passive right to vote (RL. 149.3).
- The Provincial/Delegation Superiors must proceed according to the norms indicated in the Rule of Life (Nos. 150, 1-10) for the election of Priest Delegates. They will do this in such a way as to conclude the process by 30 November 2020.
- For the Brother Delegates, the election will be organised by the General Secretary who, in conformity with the Rule of Life (No. 149.2 and 150.9), sends the “lists” of the electoral colleges concerned and also “the norms for returning and counting ballots and for publishing the results”. The process for the election of Brother Delegates must be concluded by 30 November 2020. Only the Brothers vote in the straw ballot for the Brother Delegates. In the election of Brother Delegates, all Members vote who have an active voice (RV 150.5).
- For the election of both Priest and Brother Delegates to the Chapter, what is laid down in the Rule of Life No. 150, 1-10 is followed. Particular attention should be paid to what was decided by the 1991 Chapter and added to No. 150.7 of the rule of Life: “Those confreres are elected who receive a relative majority of votes amounting to at least a third of the votes. Whenever the candidates, or some of them, do not receive the required majority, the voting is repeated until a result is obtained” (CA ’91, 58.3).
- All confreres have the right to active voice except the exclaustrated and those living outside the community, as laid down by the Rule of Life in number 160.4.
- All confreres who shall have professed perpetual vows by 31 August 2020 shall have the right to passive voice (RL. 150).
- For information concerning the electoral process, please refer to the General Secretary. The results must be sent to him.
- In order to guarantee the necessary privacy and the authenticity of votes, it is not permitted to use electronic mail either for straw ballots or elections.
- To communicate the results of straw ballots and elections more swiftly, the results of straw ballots and elections should be sent by electronic mail or by fax. The original document is then to be sent by ordinary post.
- The GC will appoint the Pre-Chapter Commission during the mini-Consulta to be held in December and will send a letter with indications to facilitate the Circumscription and Continental Assemblies to be held in view of the Chapter.
- In due course, the Superior General with his Council will make known those nominated as Observers invited to the XIX General Chapter (RL. 148.1).
- The GC will send out a special prayer so that we may commence praying for the next General Chapter from 1 September 2020 until the end of the Chapter itself.
Dear confreres, let us all endeavour to invoke the Holy Spirit, the Protagonist of the Mission of God, to guide, encourage, purify and animate us in our journey of preparation for the next General Chapter.
Happy Feast of the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus!
Rome, 19 June 2020
Solemnity of the Sacred Heart
Fr. Tesfaye Tadesse Gebresilasie, mccj
Fr. Jeremias dos Santos Martins, mccj
Bro. Alberto Lamana Cónsola, mccj
Fr. Alcides Costa, mccj
Fr. Pietro Ciuciulla, mccj