FIRST WEEK OF THE 2001 GENERAL CHAPER
After the singing of the hymn Veni Creator Spiritus in the chapter hall, the Prior General Joseph Chalmers welcomed the participants and declared the General Chapter open. The Secretary General, Tarsicio Gotay, following the instructions of Article 271, paragraph (b) and (c), of the Constitutions, read the roll of the gremiales (Doc 1) as well as the list of the officials of the chapter.
Scrutators are: Joseph Saliba, Dariusz Borek, Roberto Toni. Puntatori: Brendan Grady, Joseph Kemper, Rogerio S. De Lima.
Members of the Commission for the Revision of the Acts of the Chapter are: Desiderio García, Mario Alfarano, William Harry.
Members of the Commission for the Review of the Expenses of the Chapter are: Luis Gallardo, Pankraz Ribbert. Moderators: Carlo Cicconetti, Rafael Leiva, Mario Esposito, Henricus Pidyarto.
After a short break, the President invited Cees Bartels, the chairperson of the Preparatory Commission of the General Chapter, to present the agenda and the ordo capituli as outlined by the Commmission. Cees Bartels explained that the Commission based their work on the acts of the General Congregation at Bamberg, on the suggestions of the General Council, and on the responses to the questionaire that was sent to each Province. The methodology that the Commission proposed to the General Chapter follows the structure of the Lectio Divina.
Following come questions about the agenda, specifically on the free time and on the session in which the proposals will be discussed. Regarding the Ordo Capituli, the request was made that we pay attention to the method of voting contained in #21 of the Ordo Capituli. A clarification was also asked for regarding who is responsible for the Acts of the Chapter (Constitutions 261, 2). A hand vote on the agenda (Doc) and of the Ordo Capituli (Doc) was held and the documents were unanimously accepted.
Before concluding, the schedule for tomorrow was explained. This day is a spiritual retreat.
The President opened the session asking prayers for Peter McAlpine (Aust) who died last Saturday. He also read the greetings of John Sugianto in the name of the National Council of the Lay Carmelites in Indonesia. Finally, he said that the commission that would compile a final message from the Chapter to the Order would be Christopher ODonnell, Fenarndo Millan and Carlos Mesters. The President then presented John Welch (PCM) who led the days retreat.
In the afternoon the Chapter received greetings from Sr. Maria Teresa Natalini, General of the Istituto delle Suore di Nostra Signora del Carmelo, of the nuns of Carmelo del Sacro Cuore di Gesù di Beja (Portugal), of Sr. Terezinha Fernandes dos Santos, Provincial Superior of the Suore Missionarie de S. Teresa di Gesù (Brazil).
The President opened the session with greetings from the Australian Lay Carmelites. In turn he gave over the session to the moderator, Fr. Carlo Cicconetti. Fr. Carlo introduced the subject and work for the day which focused on the pastoral work of the Order and had as its theme "The Parishes." The moderator introduced Fr. Michael Plattig, member of the General Chapter Preparatory Commission, to outline the methodology for the chapter which is based on the structure of the Lectio divina. He gave some clarifications on the procedure and on the time to be dedicated to the discernment.
After the report, there was a moment of personal reflecition until the break.
The chapter broke up into 9 groups based on language and met in different rooms. Every group ended its work with prayer.
The moderator, Fr. Carlo Cicconetti, reminded the members that this was the "collatio" session in which the group reports were to be heard. The secretaries of the groups reported: Fr. Gerald Payea, Fr. Celso Prieto, Fr. Roberto Toni, Fr. Paul Chandler, Fr. Salvador Villota, Fr. Antonio Merico, Fr. John McGrath, Fr. Raul Masana, and Fr. William Harry.
The facilitators, Fr. Richard Copsey and Fr. Carlos Mesters, having listened to the contributions of each group, briefly summarized the comments of the secretaries. The moderator invited Fr. Richard Copsey to speak first. His intervention is summarized in the following points:
1) In spite of the difficulties described, the advanced age of some of the brothers, the reduced number of members in our comunities, the tensions arising between the parish and the community, the danger of becoming no more than diocesan priests, etc, we find ourselves at the following consideration: The charism is the foundation for almost all parish structures.
2) The charism is a place where the people are able to encounter Christ. On a personal level we must form Carmelites in our Carmelite spirituality. The formation should not be just three or four conferences on our charism but it should be stressed as an important reality. Moreover, we have the need to teach the Carmelites, more than just assuming responsibility, how to work in groups, concern for the brothers of the community and showing each one his own abilities.
3) All the groups insisted that it is the community that is responsible for the ministry, not each brother individually.
4) The secretaries repeated that the community must testify to our life of prayer and to our service with creativity, flexibility, imagination, seeking new structures. The lay people and the Carmelite Family must both be involved in the life of the parish without creating useless confusion.
5) It is certain that the regions and cultures influence our parish models. The challenge is to figure out which at the basic elements which serve in any situation and with any mentality. Our intent is not to impose the Carmelite charism on the people but to ask ourselves what God wants of us.
Fr. Carlos Mesters followed with 4 additional questions to complete the synthesis elaborated by Fr. Richard Copsey.
The President opened the session reading the messages of greeting from the Carmelites of Masgne (Naples) and by the Provincial Commissariate of the Philippines. Afterwards he invited Fr. Luigi Nasta, Commissary General of LaBruna, to outline the trip to Naples on Sunday, September 9. Finally, the President reminded the members about the theme of the day, Community Life, and asked the moderator of the day, Fr. Rafael Leiva to lead the proceedings.
Fr. Carlo Cicconetti, as Provincial of the Italian Province, was asked to introduce some of the members of the La Famiglia Movement of Florence (Italy) who join the chapter to share their experiences.
The married couple, Amata and Filippo and the young women, Debora, Ester, Agnese, and Susanna spoke about the community life that five families together with three Carmelite friars live at the Basilica of Il Carmine in Florence. This new experience, begun in 1992, is different in that it is a community of mixed vocations in which priests, religious, and married couples live together, unified by the charism.
After some questions there was a short break and then we divided into language groups.
The moderator called on the secretaries of the language groups to explain their work. The ones who gave the summaries: Fr. Gerald Payea, Fr. Celso Prieto, Fr. Roberto Toni, Fr. Paul Chandler, Fr. Salvador Villota, Fr. Antonio Merico, Fr. Michael T. Driscoll, Fr. Raúl Masana and Fr. William J. Harry.
After the break, the facilitator, Fr. Richard Copsey, summarized the reports of the secretaries.
Fr. Carlos Mesters added that today there is a breeze of the Spirit in the Church to live in community. "Listen to what the Spirit says to the Church." (Revelations)
2) In the Bible when God reveals himself, he creates community. When there is no community life there is no revelation of God. If the community is torn apart so is Gods face because there is an unbreakable bond between Gods love and love of neighbor. In Exodus, when God calls on the people from Egypt, he transforms its social structure: from one based on a pyramid into a tribal one in which power is no longer centered. The small communities are more flexible to welcome the revelation of Gods face. Jesus becomes the builder of a community when, different from other groups from his time, he welcomes everyone into one single family.
The President openned the session with a few announcements. He reminded the members of the address of the General Chapter's website and informed them that some 400 people had visited the site since the beginning of the chapter. A letter of greeting was read from Sr. Elena Maria Samper, in teh name of the nuns of the Zaragoza (Spain) Federation of monastaries. There is a video on the history of the Carmelites, produced by the Neapolitan Province, that will be shown on Monday evening. A number of changes in the schedule/agenda for the remaining days of the General Chapter were announced.
The President handed the meeting over to the moderator for the day, Fr. Mario Esposito. After a few introductory remarks, Fr. Mario introduced Fr. Pere Soler, the General Bursar. Fr. Pere began by announcing the cost of room and board for the chapter and how this would be billed. He then outlined the Curia's proposal for the division of travel costs for those attending the General Chapter according to the traditional "percentage quotas" paid by the Provinces for general expenses of the Curia. This proposal was voted on before the break for celebration of the Eucharist.
The actual financial report to the General Chapter consisted of a six year summary of income and expenses and the balance sheet for the Curia and operations which depend on the Curia. There was a presentation of the overall socio-economic situation of the Order, an explanation of the Curia's financial fund, current uses for property owned by the Curia (CISA, Domus Carmelitana, and the Curia residence), and the status of an Order wide development office. Three appendices were distributed to assist Chapter members in understanding the financial picture. Some time was given to members' questions.
At the end of the session, the members voted to accept the Curia's proposal for Chapter travel.
Members took a short break and then gathered in the chapel for celebration of the feast of Mary's birthday.
TRIP TO NAPLES
At 7:00 AM, a number of the participants of the General Chapter visited the city of Naples. According to the program, the excursion was to arrive at 10:00 PM for the eucharistic celebration at the Carmine Maggiore, presided by the Prior General, Joseph Chalmers, and a visit to the historical center of the city. They returned to Sassone at 8:30 PM.
Commissione Preparatoria Capitolo Generale 2001