PASSION FOR CHRIST, PASSION FOR THE POOR
FIFTH CHAPTER, PROVINCE OF CEBU
JULY 15 - 22, 2008
Jesus replied, “The first is this: ‘Hear, O
At our Fifth Chapter, we heard God’s message for us as Redemptorist missionaries.
We heard the call for everyone to undergo a radical conversion to the person of Jesus. As in the Parable of the Good Samaritan, Jesus calls each one of us to make ourselves a neighbor to those in need.
We also discerned the Spirit leading us to a greater realization that central to our spirituality is the relationship between the Person of the Redeemer and the choice of the poor and the abandoned which – as embodied in Constitution 5 - is the badge of fidelity to our vocation.
Passion for Christ is Passion for the Poor. This constitutes the very heart of our missionary identity.
As we grappled with the need to intensify our presence among the poor, we asked ourselves the question - who are the poor in the
In the urban centers – where our foundations are located - we can find the poor in the streets, slums and squatter areas including the unemployed, the unskilled daily wage earners, casual employees, migrant workers, the street people and the out-of-school youth.
We have come to realize, however, that there has been a major shift in populations to the urban centers; there are more people now living in cities. Thus, we believe our presence among and service to the urban poor have to be intensified.
In the past triennia, we responded to the needs of the poor by focusing our efforts in BECs, Youth and Social Concerns. These remain important areas in our apostolate but, today, we see a need to focus our efforts more in urban areas.
At this Chapter, we accepted that Passion and Compassion are movements of the Spirit that give meaning to our mission, animate our spirituality and impart quality to our community life. Our reflections also led us to discover our own limitations and ambiguities, our fragility and inconsistencies and the influences of evil in our world and in ourselves.
We have continued to speak and write about the challenge of the poor but we have not done nearly enough. There is a distance between us and the people, owing to our lifestyle and a tendency towards nesting. We hope that with our mission teams, parishes, shrines, retreat houses and other apostolate, as well as in living out our vowed life, we can take steps towards shifting to a lifestyle and commitment that mirrors the radicality of our vows.
We have also believed that the contemplative dimension of our life has to include a rootedness in Christ along with closeness to the most abandoned. We seek to encourage each other towards devoting more time for prayer as well as creating in our communities an atmosphere conducive to meditation and contemplation. We aim towards living our vows in such a way that we give witness to the message we preach.
We embraced the need to have a passion for our confreres as brothers. There have been many reasons to be thankful for the blessings and positive gains in our community life and the administration of the Province. However, we also acknowledged the need for conversion in these areas given our weaknesses and shortcomings.
As a Province we have affirmed the gains that have been made vis-à-vis the call of the Generalate towards restructuring. We honor our commitments in the Asia-Oceania Region in terms of both joint formation programs and initiatives in the apostolate. We specifically seek to strengthen our ties with our confreres in the
Taking all these into consideration, we take to heart the following Postulata (P) and Exhortations/ Recommendations (E/R):
1. URBAN MISSIONS (P)
a. Our Existing Apostolic Units
As an apostolic community dedicated to following Jesus Christ the Redeemer, who became poor, and as an expression of our passion for the poor, the Chapter directs all apostolic units to give greater emphasis to our call to evangelize the poor and to be evangelized by the poor. To ensure that this happens, the Chapter directs the setting in motion of a process which includes the following:
1) When the communities come together to draw up their Plan of Community Life (PCL), special attention will be given to devise a Program that will involve direct contact for all members of the community with the poor of the area. This Program will be holistic, with efforts made to respond to the faith-life needs of the poor and empower the same poor to be instruments of evangelization in our own lives as Redemptorists.
2) The Program will be evaluated by each community during its mid-year Review of Life.
3) The Apostolic Secretariat will devise a method of evaluation, keeping in mind the spirit of the Chapter, which will be offered to the communities.
b. A New Pastoral Initiative to respond to the needs of the Urban Poor
Recognizing the special needs of the Urban Poor and the challenge presented to us as Redemptorists to respond to those needs, as well as respecting our existing Commitment to rural missions, the Chapter directs the OPC to ensure the existence of a Mission Team in the Province, attached to an established community, which will give special emphasis to responding to the needs of the Urban Poor in the preaching of the Gospel.
2. COLLABORATION WITH
In response to the call of the XXIII General Chapter for greater collaboration and solidarity between and among Units of the Congregation, the Chapter directs the OPC of the Cebu Province to continue the process already in motion wherein both the Cebu Province and the Manila Vice-Province seek further ways of collaborating with each other in the areas of mission, formation, Redemptorist life and administration.
3. REDEMPTORIST ITINERANT
The Chapter continues to affirm the Redemptorist Itinerant Mission Community as a radical expression of our Redemptorist Missionary identity. However, to further deepen this expression of our commitment, the Chapter directs the OPC to evaluate the RIMC as it currently exists in the light of its original vision with a view to solidifying and strengthening that identity.
4. YOUTH MINISTRY (P)
The Chapter recognizes the importance of youth ministry, acknowledging that often the youth are the most abandoned in terms of the importance given them by both Church and State. Therefore, the Chapter directs the OPC to appoint a Youth Ministry Coordinator and/or a Youth Ministry Team to facilitate each Apostolic Unit (Churches, Parishes, Mission Teams and Retreat Houses) set in place a Youth Ministry Program that will respond to the pastoral needs of our young people, especially the out-of-school youth.
5. GENERAL MISSIONS (E)
Encouraged by the impact of recent General Missions, the Chapter encourages the continuation of such Missions. When requests are made, the OPC, through the powers invested in it as the Leadership Team of the Province, have the right to seek the cooperation of all confreres in the Province.
6. ON SPIRITUALITY (P)
The Chapter directs that each community and each of its members, when the community meets for the PCL at the beginning of the triennium, make an inventory of their lives. This inventory will focus in a special way on the following considerations:
a. How much time we spend in direct contact with the poor;
b. How we use our resources, especially how much money we spend on ourselves in contrast to the amounts we spend on improving the lives of the poor.
c. While recognizing the value and even the necessity of the use of modern technology, we have to examine if the values of our community life are not being undermined
1) in the manner in which we acquire our instruments of modern technology,
2) in the use we make of them vis-à-vis our life of simplicity and poverty,
3) in our choice of the more expensive and latest model of these instruments for the sake of our personal gratification.
d. How much time we devote to prayer vis-à-vis our other activities and how we create in our communities an atmosphere conducive to prayer and contemplation.
In keeping with our current practice, the PCLs, after being evaluated by the community itself, will be submitted to the OPC and the Community Secretariat for further reflection and for possible help in facilitating a more radical conversion to Christ.
7. ON COMMUNITY
a. Living in a rapidly changing world where we are confronted with new realities and challenges everyday, the Chapter acknowledges the importance of on-going formation, theological renewal and skills training for all confreres in the Province. Therefore, the Chapter directs the incoming OPC/EPC to direct the incoming Community Secretariat to draw up a specific and definite Program of Renewal which will facilitate the professional engagement of confreres, and our lay cooperators, with such new realities and challenges. (P)
b. In order to promote greater community consciousness among us, the Chapter recommends that the OPC facilitate the re-printing of the Booklet, Important Values in Community Life and How to Live Them, and ensure that each confrere is given a copy for use in strengthening community structures, for example, the monthly Recollection, the use of a discernment process in making important decisions and so on. (R)
8. ON GOVERNANCE
a. While recognizing the value of personal autonomy the Chapter also acknowledges the importance of our corporate identity as Redemptorists, both at the level of the local community and the Province. In this we see a certain tension. In order to assist us in promoting our religious identity and to ensure greater openness to the decisions made by various leadership teams in the Province we need to open a dialogue in the Province concerning this issue. As a starting point, the Chapter directs that early in the triennium the Community Secretariat, with the help of competent resource persons, organize a seminar/retreat on the theme: Leadership, Authority and Obedience in Religious Life Today. Following on this, the Community Secretariat will continue to facilitate on-going dialogue on this issue both in communities and at the Province level. (P)
b. To ensure greater efficiency and better communication and accountability between the Councils and the Secretariats, the Chapter directs that the OPC, for this triennium, appoint the Chairmen of the various Secretariats. This will be reviewed at the Chapter of 2011 and, if it is deemed advisable, a change will be made to the Provincial Statutes at that time. (P)
c. To ensure the implementation of Chapter/Council decisions, and to utilize existing structures, the Chapter directs that the OPC/EPC extends greater authority to the various Secretariats of the Province as envisaged by Decree 50 in the Statutes, Decrees and Electoral Law for the Redemptorists of the Cebu Province. For this to be effective, greater communication between the Secretariats and the communities, as well as greater communication between the Secretariats and the Councils, is essential. (R)
9. ON CONVOKING A CHAPTER-ASSEMBLY (P)
This Chapter, in accordance with a, 2, 602 of the Directory of Chapters, convokes the 6th Chapter of the Province of Cebu in the form of an Assembly.
10. ON THE ACTA (R)
The Chapter Delegates Approval of the Acta to the EPC.