XII PROVINCIAL CHAPTER DOCUMENT
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ who has blessed our Province in Christ with spiritual gifts that make us sensitive and open to hear His Word in the many instances of our mission and life. The Chapter is a time of grace. It is the locus where we as a Province present the “words” we have heard from God, discerning and listening together where the Spirit is calling us to do mission. Thus contemplating the Word for guidance and nourishing our spirit with the Eucharist, we “joyfully go into the deep” casting our nets trusting that He who has called us will bless us and our endeavours.
It is God´s call that has gathered us together. We feel compelled to listen and respond to that irresistible call that reminds us of who we are, and what we are in the Church and in the world. With hearts on fire with love, we present this Chapter Document to engender and renew the enthusiasm for mission of our Province.
2. THE CALL OF GOD: Challenges and Opportunities to our mission
As Claretian Missionaries in the Philippines, we listen to the Call of God in the particular challenges and opportunities of our society, Church and congregation today.
The following socio-economic political situations challenge our missionary presence in the Philippines and Asia:
- 1.Poverty – Many civic and church groups in the Philippines have implemented poverty alleviation programs but despite their noble efforts and the economic growth fuelled by remittances of overseas Filipino workers, the sufferings of the poor have not been effectively reduced. The situation is aggravated by the global economic slowdown, increasing unemployment and the escalating health and hunger crises. We feel called to be in solidarity with the poor and marginalized with our life style and witness as well as actively collaborating with other sectors in society to improve the quality of life of our poor brothers and sisters.
- 2.Conflict and Violence – Our missionaries, especially in Zamboanga and Basilan, are actively engaged in promoting the culture of peace and justice. However, the peace and order situation, particularly in Mindanao, is always threatened by injustice, religious fundamentalism and lawlessness. We feel called to intensify our proclamation of the values of the Kingdom of God and denounce all forms of corruption, violence and injustices in our communities and society.
- 3.Multi-Culturality and Migration – We are living in a highly globalized world and communities. We face the phenomenon of migration in the Philippines and in our foreign missions in Vietnam and Australia. The diversity of cultures presents a lot of challenges to our life and mission. We are constantly called to respect each other’s uniqueness and giftedness, live in harmony and cooperation and give witness to the spirit of communion.
- 4.Care of Creation – Our missionaries know and experience the consequences of radical climate change: extreme weather like hurricanes, droughts, heat waves, floods, etc. Our challenge is to stimulate and sustain the “ecological conversion” which makes humanity more sensitive to our being stewards of creation. [MFL 2.i]
- 5.Families & Youth – The family continues to play an important role in the transmission of values and in the formation of persons. However, striking changes are occurring in family life in the world today. The youth everywhere are searching for meaning in the world that often treats them more as consumers rather than as builders of the future. We are called to listen to the values that youth can offer us and to respond creatively to their needs and to the needs of families. [MFL 2.c]
- 6.Communication – More than ever the technological advances make it possible for people to have more options for communication. Although new technologies may bring us closer together for some, it can lead to loneliness and alienation. The challenge for us is to use these new means of communication to reach out to people around the world with a prophetic message of hope and one that calls attention to the injustices faced by so many people. We feel a special call to reach out to all especially the youth using the technology available to us and to promote a culture of respect, dialogue and friendship. [MFL 2.j]
- 7.Politics and Governance – We are being challenged by the massive corruption in government and structural violence brought about by politics. As missionaries, we are called to take part in the historical transformation of society and the denunciation of the evils present in it.
The Church in the Philippines and Asia, in which we are mainly present, faces various challenges and opportunities in her evangelizing mission. These concern us too, being an integral part of the Church’s mission and life. Among them we consider the following as the major and urgent ones:
- 1.Experience of God – In Asia, the experience of God is held in very high esteem [Asian Synod, Propositio, 9]. It is unanimously held by those who are deeply involved in the evangelizing mission that in the Asian context, religious experience is a far more compelling force for acceptance of a message than doctrinal formulations [Asian Synod, Relatio ante disceptationem]. Witness of life is also a value of decisive importance. We are called to bear witness, fundamentally, to our personal God-experience and to how this experience has transformed our lives. To grow in our experience of God and nourish our witness of evangelical life, we must be contemplative listeners of the Word like the Virgin Mary, our Mother.
- 2.Prophetic Ministry – Our experience of God will enable us to fathom the depth of His desire for liberation and total wellbeing of His people, especially the poor. This will produce in us a new missionary zeal to speak through advocacy and confront the world in need of a radical transformation. As prophets, we are called to communicate along with truth, hope and joy to the people. This will be best accomplished by sharing the Word and the Eucharist.
- 3.Dialogue – Dialogue is the life and mode of the Asian Church [EA 32]. It has to be made clear that dialogue is not simply a strategy for peaceful coexistence among peoples; it is an essential part of the Church’s mission. More concretely, the Asian Bishops envisioned the mode of mission as a three-fold dialogue: dialogue with the cultures of Asia, dialogue with the religions of Asia, dialogue with the peoples of Asia, particularly the poor. We are called to proclaim Jesus Christ through a living and dynamic conversation and interaction with these three realities in our context: culture, religion and people especially the poor.
4. Shared Mission – All must actively share in the Church’s mission and life. And this sharing must be promoted at all levels. The bringing up of the Reign of God is indeed the common mission-project of all the people of good will. We share the same liberating, empowering, and life-giving mission with the laity who, in many Asian countries, are already serving as true missionaries, reaching out to fellow Asians who might never have contact with clergy and religious [EA 45]. We are called to collaborate with everyone in the evangelizing mission especially with the religious and lay people and become partners with movements who work for justice, peace, and integrity of creation.
5. Communication – The Church’s evangelizing mission is deeply affected by the impact of mass media. Since the mass media have an ever increasing influence even in remote areas of Asia, they can assist greatly in the proclamation of the Gospel to every corner of the continent [EA 48]. We are called to use wisely the modern means of communication and mass media to effectively communicate the Word of God.
1. In the Congregational level
In the recent Declaration of the XXIV General Chapter, the Congregation highlights some of the call that is keenly recognized in the present:
- A.Called to strengthen the experience of God in our life
- B.Called to live in continuous formation
- C.Called to re-commit ourselves to the community
- D.Called to invite others to embrace this vocation
- E.Called to work apostolically in renewed way
- F.Called to continue revising our structures
- G.Called to show our communion through a new economic model
2. On the Provincial Level
On the basis of the evaluation texts received from communities and individual members of the Province we have identified our principal values and our pressing concerns. They are expressed in terms of affirmation, appreciation and approval (lights) or in terms of preoccupations, concern and dissatisfaction (shadows). Either ways (lights or shadows) we consider them vital, important, necessary, or urgent. [cf. Provincial Pre-capitular Evaluation 2009]
We have identified such principal values by order of significance as transpired, namely:
C. Communion and Community Life
D. Formation: Initial and Ongoing
We have identified some concerns that need to be addressed namely: Animation by Leadership, Vocation Ministry, Communication, Ormoc Mission, Care of the Sick and the Elderly Claretians and Healthy Communication.
3. CALLED TO LIVE OUR MISSIONARY VOCATION: Charismatic inspiration and Guidelines.
The last four General Chapter Documents have clearly and concisely expressed our charism and mission as Claretian Missionaries today. We are:
- A.Servants of the Word
- B.In Prophetic Mission
- C.That They May Have Life
- D.Men on Fire with Love
Guided by the latest General Chapter Document [MFL], we identify the hallmarks of a Claretian Missionary that will guide us on how to live and do our mission.
As Claretian Missionaries, we are called to be Men on Fire with Love who:
- 1.have a renewed sense of meaning and joy [MFL 29/33]
- 2.are graced by the spirit with filial and brotherly characteristics: dignity, confidence, joy, tenderness, compassion and solidarity [MFL 35]
- 3.relate based on love; listen to, welcome and proclaim the Word of God symbolized and realized in the Eucharist, nourished by prayer, family lifestyle, co-responsibility in government and collaboration in the common mission, preference for the poor and live in unity amidst diversity [MFL 38-40]
- 4.possess the prophetic zeal: have both a heart and tongue of fire as expressions of love, know oneself, nurture the core of one’s personality and develop ones’ talents [MFL 42-43]
- 5.are open to continual process of formation, can name infidelity, enkindle the fire of vocational gift, attentive to the clamour of people and find with them the creative responses to the changing needs of the world. [MFL 45]
- 6.look for the glory of God and the salvation of humankind by conforming to Jesus in praying, working and suffering [MFL 46]
- 7.try by all possible means to set the whole world on fire with God’s love and to bring his Word to the ends of the earth; becoming credible witnesses of the fire; and with gaze fixed on those who are excluded from the love of others and who suffer terrible consequences of injustice [MFL 48-50]
- 4. THE LOVE OF CHRIST URGES US ON: Our Missionary Commitments
Responding to the Call of God in our particular context and guided by our charism as Claretian Missionaries, we have identified our priorities for the next triennium as a Province in terms of missionary commitments. [cf. Provincial Pre-capitular Recommendations and Assembly 2009] We based our missionary commitments and the accompanying mechanisms for actions as a Province according to our values and pressing concerns and the central core of our being and doing: the Mission. From the Mission flows our Spirituality, Leadership, Community Life, Initial and On-going Formation and Economy.
We will respond creatively with the most opportune, timely and efficacious means to calls we have perceived keeping in mind the context and urgencies of our mission and the history and tradition of our Congregation (MFL 61.1)
The missionary service of the Word is the most specific trait of our charismatic identity. The Word must be the central axis of our life and ministry and the reference point of all our endeavours and projects. In the present context, our missionary service of the Word specially involves solidarity with the poor and the excluded, search for peace through reconciliation and healing, fostering “shared mission” and wise use of the modern means of communication and mass media to effectively communicate the Word.
Commitments and mechanisms for action:
1.1 We commit ourselves to create and promote more Word centered projects and activities in our different areas of apostolate. We will promote an itinerant team for the missionary service of the Word and train our collaborators along popular reading of the Bible. In this connection, we commit ourselves to prepare experts on bible ministry.
1.2 We commit ourselves to conform our lives, structures and resources with the poor, having a clear mechanism for an effective sharing of resources with them, and keeping ourselves in contact with their situation.
1.3 We commit ourselves to form a JPIC Commission and the commitment to JPIC should be present in all our projects, preparing some people for the commission and encouraging more programs on sustainable community development with special concerns for the vulnerable sectors in our communities like women, children, indigenous people especially the Bajaus.
1.4 We commit ourselves to walk in communion with persons and communities of other creeds, religions and culture especially Muslims and the indigenous communities in search for peace through reconciliation and healing.
1.5 We commit ourselves to the formation of the laity and the organization of the Claretian Lay Associates for Mission.
1.6 We commit ourselves to encourage Claretians to specialize in the field of communication and collaborate with groups and organizations that are doing evangelization through the mass media.
1.7 We commit ourselves to enhance the websites of our province, publications and projects and formation houses so that they will be more updated, establish an online course on the bible using the Word Mission project, and support innovative initiatives such as the Claretian Hope Center in providing communication of faith and hope to people, especially the youth and the family.
1.8 We commit ourselves to give attention to the youth by consolidating our efforts in the captured areas of our apostolate such as our schools, parishes as well as campus ministries of local universities.
We feel a special call of the Spirit to see the world with the eyes of God, to reinforce the experience of God in our lives, to live in continuous formation and to recommit ourselves to the community [MFL 53].
We, Claretians, a community of servants of the Word in Asia, seek to live a missionary spirituality that is nourished and centered on the Word, cordimarian, and truly Asian, that is, enriched by Asian values and dynamically in accord with the Asian Church’s mission and life.
Commitments and mechanisms for action:
2.1 To be strengthened and renewed for our day-to-day spiritual journey we will avail ourselves of the usual means the Church provides for this purpose such as the sacrament of reconciliation, liturgical celebrations, and spiritual accompaniment. These means must have an important place in our community and personal projects of life.
2.2 We commit ourselves to give priority in our lives to the listening of the Word, the celebration of the Eucharist, daily prayer, monthly recollection, and annual retreat. Our dialogue with the Word and prayer life is to be cordimarian, that is, with a listening and faithful heart, ready to fulfill the liberating and life-giving will of the Father as reflected in the Magnificat.
2.3 To grow in harmony in its quadruple unfolding – with oneself, with fellow humans, with creation, and with God – we commit ourselves to dedicate time for silence and meditation, and seek the integration of our prayer life and our work for justice, peace, and integrity of creation.
2.4 We commit ourselves to develop a spirituality of communion, making our communities truly homes and schools of communion and foster a missionary spirituality that generates openness leading to dialogue with other religious and spiritual traditions.
2.5 To acquire a deeper understanding of our Claretian charism – which gives consistency to our spirituality and lifestyle – with a view to its authentic incarnation in our context, we will create opportunities and concrete mechanisms to foster personal and communitarian study of and reflection on our congregational charismatic and spiritual resources. We will also avail ourselves of the offerings of the General Prefecture of Spirituality such as “The Forge in daily life” and “Encounter with Claret”.
3. COMMUNITY FOR MISSION
We will give thanks for the gift of community, as the place where we become brothers….We will promote opportunities in our communities that foster formation for mission, its planning and evaluation (MFL 56,1.3)
Communion and mission are intrinsically linked. Indeed, the effectiveness of our missionary ministry of the Word, endeavours, projects, and activities depends on the quality of our fraternal life and community. The leadership and every member of the Province have equal responsibility in creating communities for mission.
Commitment and mechanisms for action:
3.1 We commit ourselves to developing healthy communities that are truly for mission. We will encourage those virtues and attitudes that help us to grow in communion, humility, sincerity, fraternal correction, reconciliation, mutual respect, concern and interest in each other (MFL 56,1)
3.2 We commit ourselves to the revitalization of our community life, fostering communion of goods by submitting the fruits of our labor, avoiding all forms of individualism, and being faithful to community and personal project of life.
3.3 We commit ourselves to deepening our fraternity by being present in the common acts of the community and by celebrating together the Congregation´s feast and special events.
4. LEADERSHIP FOR MISSION
Superiors should reflect both the charity with which God loves the brothers and respect for the human person and so lead the other members to cooperate with active and responsible obedience even in virtue of the vow in carrying out their assigned duties and in undertaking new ones (CC 94).
The leadership is to animate and to steer the Province towards the faithful and creative fulfilment of each missionary service of the Word, responding to God´s call in today’s context, inspiring a genuine missionary spirituality, promoting a loving fraternal life in community, and ensuring the formation of young members for mission.
Commitments and mechanisms for action:
4.1 We commit ourselves to a leadership that animates the Province by engendering fraternal love through regular, serious and compassionate dialogue and qualitative visitations of the communities.
4.2 We commit ourselves to a leadership that fosters shared responsibility. In this connection we ensure proper consultation, respect of the principle of subsidiarity and promote teamwork in the province.
4.3 We commit ourselves to standardize and professionalize our provincial structures: communication, secretariat, prefecture offices, archives, and other services.
5. FORMATION FOR MISSION
We will promote opportunities in our communities that foster formation for mission. [MFL 56,3]
Claretian formation is essentially missionary formation. Our being missionaries ought to define and configure our formative process. Mission is the ideal end by which we form ourselves. We are being formed to be sent to mission. Thus all our formative life, its initiatives, processes and means must bear this distinctive mark as missionaries in the Church (MFL 63,2.4)
Commitment and mechanisms for action:
5.1 We commit ourselves to provide formators and prospective formators opportunities to prepare themselves adequately through their participation in congregational formation initiatives such as the School of the Heart of Mary, Inter-Formators encounter.
5.2 We commit ourselves to encourage formators to live lives of holiness through his tangible practice of fidelity to daily prayer, effective teaching and service by example.
5.3 We commit ourselves to exhort formators to have meaningful presence to our seminarians by not giving them tasks or engagements other than their priority of accompanying seminarians.
5.4 We commit ourselves to mould, to clarify, inculcate and establish this ideal of Mission to our seminarians by the retelling of real concrete lives of exemplary Claretians and their edifying stories in mission.
5.5 We commit ourselves to instill in our seminarians the value of missionary availability and missionary itinerancy as ideals of Claretian vocation through the credible witness of our own availability and itinerancy for mission.
5.6 We commit ourselves to promote a kind of formation that is open to valuing one´s own culture and cultural dialogue and exchange through our disposition to welcome candidates from other countries.
5.7 We commit ourselves to establish a clear and progressive thematic program for ongoing formation in our respective groups.
5.8 We commit ourselves to assume aggressive strategies of vocation campaign apart from the traditional method employed.
6. ECONOMY IN THE SERVICE OF MISSION
The temporal goods of the Congregation are fruits of our work and charity of the faithful. As necessary and useful means for our life and mission, and for the service to the poor, we should use them under the direction of the superiors and in conformity with the demands of Claretian poverty [CD, 518].
The mission is the focus of our life. This is the vision that inspires and guides our generation, administration, sharing, and use of material goods. The Province generates and administers its own economic resources in order to attend to its mission and life [cf. CD, 521]. The way we use material goods should guarantee a lifestyle that is consistent to our evangelizing mission and our solidarity with the poor. Moreover, by handing in the remunerations from our ministries to the community and by inter-community or inter-institutional sharing of economic resources we build and strengthen our communion of life and mission.
Commitments and mechanisms for actions
6.1 We commit ourselves to personally and collectively assume the responsibility to generate economic resources through our own endeavor, creativity, and work to guarantee the financial self-sufficiency of our Province, its communities, and its institutions and programs [cf. CD, 521].
6.2 We commit ourselves to administer our Provincial and local economy according to standard systems and procedures, in a professional way, and with great sense of responsibility, prudence, and transparency [cf. CD, 550; 565-567].
6.3 We commit ourselves to provide formation and training to economes of houses and administrators of programs and projects as well as professed students to enable them to carry out their responsibilities according to our charism and mission in an effective and efficient manner [MFL 65.4].
6.4 We commit ourselves to use our financial resources primarily for the mission, service to the poor, formation of future missionaries, on-going formation, and our basic human needs with deep sense of accountability and in a manner that guarantees a lifestyle that is consistent to our vow of evangelical poverty [MFL 65].
6.5 We commit ourselves to foster greater sharing of goods: from the person to the community, from the community to the Province, and among our institutions, programs, and projects [MFL 65.2].
6.6 We commit ourselves to attentively and generously look after all the needs of our brothers who are sick and elderly.
6.7 We commit ourselves to continue to support and strengthen the Claret Hope Fund, as an assistance arm of the Mission Procure to provide for the needs of our mission.
Conscious that we hold God´s call as “earthen vessels” we pray to Him the source and origin of our mission today. We beg Him to sustain us in this endeavour. May everything we do be for His greater glory and may through Him our aspirations reach a happy end. We place our trust to our Mother, the ever Blessed Mary our companion and co-hearer of the Word. We are strengthened by the intercession of our Father Founder, St. Anthony Mary Claret, and all the saints and martyrs of our Congregation. Together with them may our collective yes to God´s call spur us to work for God´s glory, for the salvation of souls, and in the process may we be sanctified by our fidelity to such enterprise.