FIRST GENERAL ASSEMBLY
Sunday evening was marked by the first General Assembly. Fr. Philip Massawe, Provincial of Tanzania, welcomed everyone. He praised the excellent work of the Superior General and the Council who are now finishing a difficult and prolonged Mission of animating the Congregation from Rome.
The Superior General, in his intervention, greeted all those present and addressed special thanks to Marek Myslinski and the Polish Province for having prepared everything in Lichen for the holding of this General Chapter and for accepting, with an open spirit, the final choice of the General Council to hold it here, again, in Bagamoyo. And he thanked the Province of Tanzania for accepting to host this great event. All the Capitulants were then called.
Jude NNorom (main moderator), Fr. Eduardo Ferreira and Fr. Jude took over the direction of the meeting by approving the officers, the rules of procedure, the calendar and the schedule.
A DAY OF SPIRITUAL RETREAT
Father Eamonn Mulcahy pointed to Jesus of Nazareth, as the only possible model for the ministry of any Spiritan. And which Jesus do we want to imitate? This was the big question. Certainly not a Christ who “offers us sugar” (as Pope Francis warned in Bratislava during his visit last month), a romantic and idyllic Christ, but rather a radical man, with a proposal of life that moves all those who truly want to follow him, who want to imitate him. In this process of reaching out to the little ones, Jesus wants us, his disciples, to be new men and women, more and more builders of communion, avoiding everything that truly dehumanizes us, or divides us.
Father Eamonn concluded his reflection inspired by the doctrine of Pope Francis who, throughout his pontificate, has insisted a lot on issues of fraternity, of attention to all those who appear to us fallen, dying on the side of the road, and perhaps make us stop, representing a “waste” of time and financial resources. As Spiritan missionaries we can no longer tolerate clericalist attitudes, but instead put ourselves at the service of all the left-apart, even if it means many risks, wounds, and dirt.
THE OPENING CELEBRATION
The participants of this General Chapter gathered around the historic and symbolic Cross that marks the entrance of the first Spiritan missionaries into the continental part of East Africa. After the group picture was taken, we listened to the biblical text of the sending of the 72 disciples, and we went in procession, with songs in the three official languages, towards the Chapel where Fr. John Fogarty presided the Pentecost Mass. At the entrance, the Capitulants received a lighted candle that they kept until the moment when all the Unions of Circumscriptions were called.
The President of the celebration, in his homily (which follows in full) evoked three Pentecosts: