Rome, May 20, 2018
Feast of Pentecost
It is with much joy that I present to you the text of the decisions elaborated and approved by the General Chapter 2018, which was held in the city of Las Termas del Rio Hondo (Santiago del Estero, Argentina) from the 10th of April to the 4th of May this year, with the participation of 39 chapter delegates (Fr. Bachand was absent because of illness), 3 translators and 2 secretaries.
These decisions are the results of the attentive listening to the various reports presented to the Assembly (of the General, General Treasurer, Provinces and Regions), as well as the look turned toward the future of our Congregation in the light of the theme: “In the grace of La Salette, for a reconciled world” which has become the dominant theme of the Chapter assembly.
The Chapter wanted to give importance to some principal lines of action that would help the new General Council in the animation of the Congregation in the next six years:
- The challenge of enculturation lived and to be lived in the near future in our Congregation, especially as a blessing and a challenge in the service of the Church of today.
- Initial and ongoing Formation, the heart of our human, religious/charismatic and missionary journey or endeavor.
- The celebration of the 175th Anniversary of the Apparition, as a moment of growth for all of us, a source of personal and communitarian spiritual renewal, a propitious occasion to make known the event and the grace of La Salette in and beyond our habitual ministry.
- A look at the animation of vocation among the youth and the development of our missions.
- The responsibility to accept our Salettine religious life, as a witnessing to be lived and as a “prophecy” that should be offered and announced.
I wish that these documents do not become dead letters, but that they help all and every one to “rethink” and to “re-read” our own religious life above all in the light of “Christ, the rule of our life”, (Const. #7) and therefore of the charism of Reconciliation, which waters its roots in the message of the Beautiful Lady.
I enjoin the Provincial and Regional Superiors to distribute, as soon as possible, to every religious the text of the decisions and to organize, wherever possible, community meetings in order to help in the understanding and assimilation of the contents of the same.
The words and wishes of Pope Francis during the homily of February 2, 2018 to religious gathered in St. Peter’s Basilica: “You, consecrated persons, are the eternal dawn of the Church! My desire is for you to relive today this meeting with Jesus, walking together towards Him: and this will give light to your eyes and strength in your steps”, I address to myself and to each of you, that they may stimulate us to live our religious life in the joyful fidelity in the following of Christ and in the generous spirit of service to the people of God entrusted to our pastoral care.
Fr. Silvano Marisa, M.S.
Decision n. 1
PREPARING THE 175th ANNIVERSARY OF THE APPARITION OF OUR LADY OF LA SALETTE
Affirming the importance of the 175th anniversary of the Apparition of Our Lady for the whole Congregation, to make the event and message of Our Lady of La Salette better known;
The General Council assure a thorough preparation of the 175th Anniversary of the Apparition of Our Lady of La Salette at every level (personal, community and congregational) so that it will become a true source of grace for a spiritual, charismatic, pastoral, and vocational renewal for every La salette and the people they serve.
MEANS TO ACCOMPLISH THIS MAY INCLUDE:
- Before the end of 2018, the Theological Commission will prepare Marian formation programs which we can all live together;
- A celebration during the CofC 2019 at the Shrine of La Salette, France, to be centered on the preparation of the 175th anniversary, where statues of Our Lady of La Salette will be blessed and given to each Provincial/Regional Superiors. These statues are to be brought to their respective Provinces/Regions and, while respecting the traditions and customs of each country, they will serve as a centerpiece for Provincial/Regional ‘’Marian pilgrimages’’;
- Each Province/Region will prepare and share with the CofC 2019 their programs for celebrating this anniversary;
- Celebration of the 175th anniversary at the Shrine of La Salette (France) in 2021 with the presence of every Provincial/Regional or their delegate, accompanied, if possible, by a delegation of 2 persons from their country;
- Proclamation of a Marian Year (September 19, 2020 – September 19, 2021) for the entire Congregation, to be lived in all the communities and places where we minister;
- Celebration of this anniversary in a spirit of ‘’sinodality’’ with the La Salette family (MS, SNDS, MSF, La Salette Laity, etc.) and with the Bishops of the dioceses where we work;
- Renew the invitation to Our Holy Father to visit the La Salette Shrine in France, and request that he send a letter to the Congregation on the occasion of the 175th anniversary;
- Spiritual renewal on personal and community levels, leading to concrete actions taken vis-a-vis problematic situations, such as marginalization, which we may encounter in our apostolates.
Decision n. 2
«OPTIONAL MEMORIAL» OF OUR LADY OF LA SALETTE
Whereas the celebration of the «optional Memorial» of Our Lady of La Salette:
- Will help fulfill the mandate of Mary, the Beautiful Lady of La Salette, to make her reconciling message known to all her people;
- Will give, in our respective countries, greater visibility and clearer understanding of the Event and the ‘’Great News’’ of Mary’s message, from which our mission and spirituality flow.
The General Chapter decides that, before the end of 2019 – if it has not already done so – each Province/Region, will contact their Conference of Bishops (or local Ecclesiastical Provinces or local dioceses) requesting that:
- The «optional Memorial» of Our Lady of La Salette (September 19) be included in the liturgical calendar of the local church; and
- On the occasion of the celebration of the 175th anniversary of the Apparition of Our Lady of La Salette (September 19, 2021) the «Optional Memorial» of Our Lady of La Salette be included in the liturgical calendar of the Universal Church.
Decision n. 3
INTERNATIONAL LA SALETTE COMMUNITY (FRANCE)
All the Missionaries of Our Lady of La Salette are aware of the beneficial service that the International Community renders to the La Salette Shrine in France.
The General Chapter decides that:
- The General Council continue to animate each Province/Region to participate in the mission of the International Community at the Shrine of Our Lady of La Salette in France;
- In accord with Provincials and Regional Superiors, a program will be established to stager the beginning of service for members of the international Community, thus assuring continuity;
- All Provinces/Regions make known to their members the ministry of this international Community from the beginning of their initial formation;
- Members sent to this mission be ready and willing to learn the French language and familiarize themselves with French culture;
- In order to give stability to the International Community, members agree to serve there for at least five years;
- Members should be well disposed to work together with the La Salette Sisters, La Salette Laity, the local staff, the APS and volunteers at the Shrine;
- During the winter season, except when the Shrine is open for the Christmas season, time be allocated for vacations, additional study of the French language and culture, including missionary work in the diocese of Grenoble, as well as in parishes and communities of the French Province and elsewhere, when invited by other Bishops.
Decision n. 4
A YEAR OF VOCATION IN THE CONGREGATION
The accompaniment of young people is a sign of the vitality that the Spirit sends out in the Church and in our Congregation. Our Rule of Life (I, 39 and II, 61) and the recent decisions of the 2015 Council of the Congregation in Luanda recall that an authentic baptismal witness is a call to follow Christ in the community of disciples. The Church itself, guided by the magisterium of Pope Francis, is experiencing a new synodal approach precisely in view of making young people themselves active protagonists in faith and in vocational discernment.
‘’Vocation culture’’ is very important. Rather, it supposes ecclesial synodality, because the call to the consecrated life is first a gift to the Church, and the whole Church is involved in the variety of its institutions and charisms. In this perspective, La Salette Laity who collaborate in our mission play a distinct role, not only in practical ways by helping in our works, but also by enabling the people of God to respond with joy to what God asks of them through the La Salette event and the presence of the Congregation. For these reasons:
In order to make youth and vocation ministry a priority for all levels of the Congregation and to actively respond at these various levels to the upcoming synod’s suggestions, the General Chapter asks the General Council to proclaim a Year of Vocations from September 19, 2019 to September 19, 2020 and to propose concrete initiatives.
Decision n. 5
VOCATION PROMOTION AND FORMATION PROGRAMS IN OUR NEW MISSIONS
The General Chapter asks the General Council to explore with local communities of Haiti, Tanzania and Mozambique, in concert with their Provinces, the possibility of starting a recruitment program for La Salette vocations in these newly established missions with a view to the possible opening of formation houses and formation programs during its term.
- The future of Congregation depends essentially on vocations.
- Some of our Provinces are suffering from the vocation crisis and the decline in the number of candidates affecting the life of our communities and the current missions of the Congregation.
- Our Rule of life (n. 39) clearly states, ‘’each member of the Congregation fosters and develops vocations’’.
- Therefore, vocation promotion is part of our primary mission as Missionaries of Our Lady of La Salette.
- Feedback from our members working in these new missions indicated that there are opportunities for fostering vocations in these countries.
- While not forgetting the international and missionary character of our Congregation, the training of local youth to become missionaries in their own countries is one of the primary tasks of our missionaries.
- An effective formation program depends largely on formators, on their ability to assimilate the socio-cultural context of the candidates, to assess their suitability, and to create the appropriate infrastructure.
- The General Council will explore with the communities of these new missions the possibility of vocational recruitment and the opening of formation houses.
- The General Council will make an evaluation of this development, taking into particular consideration the following:
- The availability of formators (whose specific mission will be formation).
- The financial resources for these formation programs and the existence of an adequate infrastructure.
- The ability of members of our communities, and especially formators, to assimilate the country’s culture and social and ecclesial context for more appropriate discernment.
Decision n. 6
RATIO FORMATIONIS GENERALIS
- The various positive experiences, as well as the gaps we have in our process of formation at the level of Provinces and Regions;
- The new requirements of the Church for the process of formation in view of the Religious Consecration and for the priestly ministry (cf. The Gift of the Priestly Vocation – Ratio Fundamentalis Institutionis sacerdotalis- Congregation for the Clergy, Vatican, December 2016);
- The text presented by the International Commission as a basic text,
The General Chapter Accepts ‘’ad experimentum’’, until the next General Chapter (2024) the Ratio Formationis Generalis – PREPARING TO SERVE IN RECONCILIATION. And proposes the General Council, together with the International Formation Commission, to requires the Provinces and Regions to review their Formation programs, following the directives presented in point IV, # 3, of the said Ratio.
Decision n. 7
FORMATION OF FORMATORS
This postulatum motivates each Province/Region to address the formation of all formators and assist them in ‘’special preparation’’ (cf RL 54 cp), to accompany candidates in their discernment with preparedness and competency.
- At the congregation level this will be a workshop inviting a member of the Provincial Council and a formator from each Province/Region to participate and explore possible programs for the formation.
- The workshop will be an opportunity for the participants to review the foundational elements that should be present in various levels of formation.
- The workshop will give directives to the General Council on the particular guidelines that can be followed at the provincial/regional level.
- The task of the two representatives is to animate a formation program in their Province/Region, integrating the guidelines from the workshop and considering the socio-cultural aspect of each location.
The General Chapter asks the General Council to organize a workshop for formators at the congregational level on the theme of formation of formators during its mandate.
Decision n. 8
To live their La Salette identity (Religious Life Community) in a prophetic manner, and in light of the theme of the General Chapter and RoL #1,
The General Chapter asks the General Council to urge Provincials and Regional Superiors of the Congregation in their ministry of animation to help their religious and seminarians:
- To acknowledge and to live community life as a witnessing and prophetic sign in today’s world;
- To witness always and everywhere in their personal and community life to a profound, passionate and total love for Christ (RoL #10 cp), lived faithfully while engaged in religious and pastoral activities;
- To open their eyes and move towards new horizons, such as ministry to the marginalized in our world today.
Decision n. 9
COMMUNITY LIFE AND MISSION
To be a prophetic sign for the modern world we need to live in community, walking together with relationships marked by truth, trust and cordiality. Therefore,
The General Chapter asks the General Council:
- To remind Superiors on every level that, respecting the subsidiarity principle, it is the Superior’s primary task to promote and uphold respect and unity in the life and ministry of every community;
- To take care to include, in initial and ongoing formation, programs that strengthen spiritual life, interpersonal communication, and psycho-social integration both at individual and communitarian levels.
Decision n. 10
INTERCULTURAL WAY OF LIFE AS BLESSING
- Current world changes have important consequences on the relations between cultures. How can we continue to live as Church and announce the Gospel in a multicultural context which is increasingly accepted and lived in today’s society? What action can we undertake in response to Jesus’ command to his disciples: «Go, make disciples of all nations» (Matthew 28:19)? Cultural diversity must be lived in a spirit of communion
- The Church, “Sacrament” of life shared in the diversity of the human family, is called to reach out beyond herself, to go out to the periphery (Pope Francis), geographically but also existentially, wherever is found the mystery of sin, suffering, injustice, ignorance, where religion is despised, where there is every form of poverty.
- This specific feature of the Church must, now more than ever, be evident in our way of living, of forming community, and of witnessing to the Good News as Missionaries of Our Lady of La Salette, members of an international Congregation blessed by God.
The Chapter recognizes intercultural communities as a blessing, and that God is Father of us all. Therefore, the General Chapter:
1- invites all members of the Congregation to embrace the intercultural way of life as an urgent call, in all the works of the Congregation;
2- encourages all the Provinces and Regions to seek the experience of life shared in the wealth of diverse cultures;
3- proposes English and French as the most practical languages for communication in the Congregation, and invites the Provinces and Regions to offer their members the possibility of learning one of these languages.
Decision n. 11
- there is a need to coordinate internationally the writing, publishing and disseminating of La Salette materials (new and old), in various languages, in collaboration with the General Administration,
- there is an abundance of art (paintings, statues, medals, music, etc.), old and new, related to La Salette,
The General Chapter recommends:
- that the General Council create an International Communications Committee;
- that each Provincial and Regional Council create its own Communications Committee;
- that the Provincial/Regional Committees share with the International Communications Committee all appropriate materials, including those published to the members of the Province or Region, as well as La Salette art, multimedia and music, in order to make them available in digital form to the extent possible and as permitted by law;
- that these committees acknowledge and encourage artistic talent in our Congregation and in La Salette lay movements;
- that the International Communications Committee establish a team of translators and proofreaders for all materials to be published to the Congregation as a whole;
- that qualified La Salette Sisters or laity also be invited to participate in these committees.
Decision n. 12
WORKING TOGETHER AS LA SALETTE MISSIONARIES BY CONTINENT
a) - in recent years there have been experiences of collaboration, proposed and coordinated by the Superior General and his Council, such as the new missions in TANZANIA and MOZAMBIQUE, which have met with success;
b) - in recent years, there has been in the Provinces and Regions direct collaboration defined by interprovincial agreements approved by the General Council, for mutual assistance in mission or formation, etc., with personnel from different continents, cultures and languages;
The General Chapter decides that:
1º) - The General Council will accompany and encourage all efforts at collaboration among Provinces/Regions, whether by continents or at the interprovincial level beyond continents.
2º) - At each Council of the Congregation, a day will be set aside for Provincial/Regional Superiors to meet by continents, with the coordination of the Superior General or General Councilors, to evaluate actions already in place, and to plan other initiatives to be worked out according to needs and possibilities.
3º) - Provincial and Regional Superiors may have meetings and/or dialogue, through initiatives in the area of formation or mission, taking advantage of modern means of communication.
) - FOLLOWING UP on these meetings, if the Provincial/Regional Superiors or the Superior General consider it necessary, they can convoke a meeting of the Superiors concerned and their respective Councils, setting a clear date, venue and agenda for the meeting.
Decision n. 13
COLLABORATION WITH LA SALETTE SISTERS
With respect and joy the General Chapter welcomes the joint declaration by the General Councils of the Missionaries and the Sisters of La Salette for mutual relations and cooperation, and in particular at the Shrine of La Salette.
Recognizing the independence of both,
The General Chapter recommends to the General Council:
- to continue dialogue and strengthen cooperation in some areas which could further unite us:
- common work at the Shrine of La Salette
- common celebrations of the Anniversary of the Apparition and other events
- vocational promotion and formation in particular the PPP
- communication between General Councils
- formation of formators and growth in the understanding of the charism.
- To affirm that clarity of terms, conditions and agreements should lead us to understand better how to fulfill our mission
- To explore the possibility of having appropriate representation of the La Salette Sisters in our Theological Commission.
Decision n. 14
«LA SALETTE LAITY» AND OTHER LAY MOVEMENTS
The General Chapter rejoices with «La Salette Laity» who have expressed a genuine desire to share and live with us the same charism of reconciliation, and rejoices with other lay movements inspired by the charism of La Salette.
With a view to the appropriate development of both our Congregation and lay movements sharing the La Salette charism, the General Chapter recommends to the General Council:
1 –to task our Theological Commission with preparing texts to serve as formation material to help both the «La Salette Laity» and other lay groups inspired by the charism of La Salette;
2 To appoint a La Salette Missionary who will accompany the International Coordination of «La Salette Laity», preferably a member of the General Council;
3 To organize international meetings of «La Salette Laity» at the Shrine of La Salette, France, every six years.
Decision n. 15
JUSTICE & PEACE
• Inspired by the Apparition of Our Lady of La Salette who looked upon the suffering of humanity,
• Taking into account the real and intolerable situation of migrants and refugees and those who live in different situations of poverty, who knock at the doors, first of our consciences, and then of our communities,
• In the light of the Apparition of Our Lady of La Salette, who reminded Maximin of the words of his father, “Here, my child, eat some bread while we still have it this year; because I don’t know who will eat any next year if the wheat keeps up like that”.
The General Chapter, desiring «in the grace of La Salette» to be in a concrete way «Prophets for a reconciled world,» encourages the new General Administration, in collaboration with the provinces and regions, to:
1) Create opportunities in our communities and places we work to discuss, share and evaluate pastoral activities in the light of Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation.
2) Respond to this urgency with appropriate action.
3) Urge the International Commission for Justice and Peace to draw up a plan to create a new Solidarity Fund which will support social projects (MS) approved by the JPIC Commission (Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation), according to specific criteria.
Decision n. 16
Having in mind the report of the Superior General to the general chapter 2018, number 8 (Finances and the Administration of Goods) and the Vatican orientation regarding ecclesiastical goods, and for the good of the congregation;
The General Chapter oblige that the General council with the help of the Finance Commission:
• Create a General Administrative-Economic Program, to be accompanied by a manual with clear criteria proposed and shared by the provinces and regions.
• The manual will help the provincial, regional and local treasurers to better administer the goods of the Congregation.
Decision n. 17
• To be the prophets in the administration of temporal goods and in the spirit of Rule of Life concerning finance,
• to better know the financial situation of the Provinces and Regions, by meeting the financial commission and local treasurers,
• to give suggestions and recommendations on various financial issues of the Provinces and Regions,
• to share the situation of the Provinces and Regions with the Finance Commission of the Congregation,
• to accompany Provinces and Regions in the awareness of managing temporal goods,
• to help Provinces and Regions in the use of the Congregational accounting system,
The General Chapter recommends that the General Council, once in a mandate, sends the General Treasurer to visit the