In this issue
- What We Heard at Pre-Chapter
- What Chapter Might Look Like
- Preparing as a Province for Chapter
What We Heard at Pre-Chapter
The members of the Chapter Planning Committee (CPC) - Faith Offman, Chair; Keith Zekind; Jim Strommer, CP; David Colhour, CP; Elizabeth Velarde; Joe Castro; Phil Paxton, CP; Robert Choiniere, Chapter Facilitator - would like to extend a sincere THANK YOU to all who joined us for our Pre-Chapter via Zoom.
Your presence, energy and open, honest sharing were most welcomed and helpful to our on-going conversation among the Passionist Family of Holy Cross Province.
The Visioning Process, begun in Holy Cross Province some years ago, continues to invite us to ‘hold the tension’ present in living into the reality of the paschal mystery – the dying and rising that is foundational to both life and life in community. We moved from ‘strategic planning’ to ‘visioning’ to understanding ourselves as existing in a state of dynamic visioning as we take in the ever-changing signs of our times and respond to God’s call to transform ourselves, our institutions and our ministries.
At Pre-Chapter, we further embraced the synodal process as we explored shifting from a hierarchical/imperial/pyramidal model to a more horizontal/synodal/circular model of leadership. Grounded in the Passionist charism and the documents we pledged to live into at our last Assembly, we dreamed together what it means to enlarge our tent.
The energy among the 80 or so participants was positive and animated. We heard:
- For the Passionist Family and Charism
- For faith sharing opportunities among the Passionist Family who are grounded in our love and commitment to remain faithful to the Passionist Charism
- For our efforts to listen in a more synodal way and seek out voices not heard
- That people are feeling part of the Province and willing to work together to look at the future
Uncertainty - Can we continue...
- To be open to the Holy Spirit and be willing to step out of our comfort zone
- To recognize the importance of cultivating a ‘habit of listening’ throughout the Passionist Family, making a conscious effort to be open to ongoing conversion of mind and heart
- To acknowledge our need to continue to grow together, vowed and lay, united in the Charism
- To be willing to move forward with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, even through the unknown
- With the process to decide and create which model to use for future leadership
- In finding our strength in the community experience
- In the excitement and willingness to work together to carry the Charism forward
- In the openness of everyone sharing
- In the excitement about the direction the Province is moving toward
- In the interconnectedness of all three documents and how they work together to embody the Charism more deeply
- In the knowledge that Holy Cross Province is in a period of important transition and transformation – a transformation which is immensely hopeful for the future of our Province and the Passionist charism and mission in the United States.
- Need to continue to explore what it means to be Passionist Family and engage younger people
- How do we continue to refine the structure and mission of Holy Cross Province
- Need to open our eyes to the people we serve and the languages they speak
- The Extended Council is a step in the right direction but more work needs to be done to integrate the vowed and lay co-responsibilities and authority
- We need to address the power dynamics that are in play within our current system
- The leadership presentation could have been better modeled – perhaps vowed and lay joint presenters
- Need to move from language of Vowed and Lay Passionists, to Passionists
- There is a general sense that many of the same people are on committees – in some ways this looks like more layers of management, ‘inside’ circles rather than enlarging the tent, still defaulting to imperial model – same old people
- How do we more openly name and address the challenges we face with moving forward as we address racism, sexism, comfort with status quo, power, fear and defensiveness
- Not enough diversity within our prayer experience or in the Pre-Chapter welcome – a little too ‘white’
- Need more effort to make our Province experiences intercultural
- How can we be radical and intentional in our strategic ways to include and engage others, not only in dialogue, but in leadership and decision-making as well
- How can we ritualize or validate the various levels of lay involvement within the Province
We are grateful for your presence at Pre-Chapter and for all that was shared in our pre-chapter conversations. We need each of us and all our voices as we work together toward greater and deeper synodality and circular leadership.
Together, we pray "Come Holy Spirit into our planning, dreaming and discernment as we move forward toward Chapter." We look forward to you participating in further preparations and conversations among the Passionist Family. Invitations will be sent to you soon.
Have a question or comment for us? We would like to hear from you. Contact us at [email protected].
May the Passion of Jesus Christ be Always in our Hearts!
The Chapter Planning Committee
Preparing as a Province for Chapter
By Bob Choiniere, Facilitator
During our pre-Chapter meetings, I offered two presentations on synodality in the life and mission of the Church to help ground the upcoming Provincial Chapter in the goals and methods of the emerging Synodal Church. Synodality is not a new concept, but a re-claiming of the origins of Christian communal discernment that began at the Council of Jerusalem as recorded in the Acts of the Apostles. Synodality is a way of being church that roots decision-making in a shared discernment of the will of God in our midst: in our communities of faith, in the hearts of all believers and in the fabric of the universe.
Grounding our upcoming Chapter in synodality includes a process of discernment that is inclusive, prayerful, inquisitive and attentive to how the Holy Spirit is calling us in light of the world we live in. When the Chapter delegates meet in June, their discernment will not be beginning but culminating. The process has already begun and continues as every member of the Passionist Family is invited to be part of the prayer, inquiry and reflection that will lead to a true discernment of the Spirit’s call.
I would like to invite each of you now into this process to fan the flames of the Holy Spirit among us. Over the next few months you are invited to listen, study, pray and then share the fruits of your experience. In this way, we will follow the synodal path outlined by the Apostles who prayed together, considered the signs of their times and made decisions together.
To be more specific, the Chapter will take up critical issues that will define our ministry and our shared life for years to come. These issues include the environmental crisis, cultural and racial diversity, immigration and migration, leadership, vocations and stewardship. We must all now prepare to have these critical conversations that will lead to decisions around these areas.
Throughout the spring, we will be holding a series of conversations on each of these topics to gather a sense of direction as we head to the Chapter. These conversations will be an opportunity to share the fruit of your preparation.
Before coming to the conversation, each individual and community is asked to become informed through study and inquiry. We invite each community to continue or begin listening to the signs of the times in your local area. Synodality includes becoming aware of what is happening around you in order to respond.
- What are the environmental issues in your region, the struggles of inclusion and diversity, the stories of immigrants and migrants, the concerns and hopes around leadership, stewardship and vocations for the Province?
- Where is Christ present in each of these areas where you live and minister?
- Where is Christ being crucified in your backyard?
This process of inquiry can begin with reading a local newspaper, seeking out local organizations working on these issues, talking with one another, your neighbors, local activists and especially the marginalized and forgotten about the critical issues they face, their fears and hopes. The preparation also includes seeking formation and education to learn more and acquire a new lens through which to evaluate what you are learning through your listening and inquiry. The various committees of the Province will be offering learning opportunities to assist in this.
After a time of study and inquiry, you are invited to enter into a time of prayer and reflection. Prayer allows a space for the Spirit to speak to our hearts about these important matters, reveal new insights, bind the pain of the world to the cross of Christ that leads to new life. Prayer is a necessary and central component of the Passionist charism and the synodal path. The Passionist Way document encourages each member of the Passionist Family to take 20 minutes of silent prayer each day. This could be a time to bring what you are learning to God and ask for insight and prompting.
The topical conversations will be a time of reflection. These meetings are designed as a space to offer, listen and respond to the insights that came from our inquiry and prayer. In these meetings we will learn how to best shape the conversations that will occur at the Chapter. The Chapter will be a time of discernment and decision-making that will be based on this preparation. The quality of the Chapter then depends on the level of engagement and the depth of the preparation that precedes it. Those who will be attending the Chapter will receive the results of the reflective conversations. They will be asked to read, consider and pray over these responses as they prepare to attend the Chapter.
So, we invite you and every member of the Passionist Family to begin to listen, to inquire, to pray and then to attend the upcoming conversations. Together, we can discern the ways that the Holy Spirit is calling us to respond most effectively and faithfully to the crucified of our world and continue to live and proclaim our Passionist Charism in all that we do.