Today, Easter Sunday, the Chapter delegates gathered in the Chapter Room to give expression to their Easter hope and joy. On the previous evening they had gathered to light the Easter fire on the terrace overlooking the lake and they had participated in the solemnity and beauty of the Easter vigil liturgy celebrated by the Chapter chaplain, Father Alan Neville MSC. Earlier, participants rose at dawn to celebrate Easter Sunday at a Dawn Mass on the terrace of the Villa Palazzola.
The Chapter continued to reflect on the various reports received from the Provinces. Yesterday, Holy Saturday they had welcomed the report of the Congregation Leadership Team. Characterising all of the reports was a rigorous honesty underpinning an expression of hope for the future.
The Brothers found themselves challenged to ask fundamental questions of themselves. During the week they had heard Sister Pat Murray of the UISG reflect on the new reality of declining numbers of religous men and women in the global north whle new growth is experienced in the global south. The paradigms of the past are now truly obsolete as new realities confront all religious men and women. The Brothers this day asked of themselves the questions such as:
- what must we do now?
- where do we discover the hope within us?
- how do we become mission rather than have a mission?
Today, reports were received from the Province of Our Lady of the Americas (Canada, United States, The Carribean), the Anglo-Irish Province and the West African Province (Nigeria and Ghana). While the reports reflected the struggle of the Brothers in various contexts, they were also resonant with joyful hope. This was particularly evident in the vitality of the West African Province but was aso reflected in the commitment to new forms of ministry in the Anglo-Irish Province. The Province of Our Lady of the Americas moved the Chapter delegates by their stories of loss and disappointment and by their resilient courage in the face of difficulties. The Brothers embrace with joy and hope the challenges arising from a combination of culture, circumstance and fragility.
In the words of one of the delegates, the Presentation Brothers embrace fully their mission to be pilgrim Brothers with hope for the future.