222 - october 1998

Financial Report to
the 1998 General Chapter
by Fr. Alfons KeuterOMI
General Treasurer

This document presents major extracts of the FinancialReport presented to the 1998 General Chapter by General TreasurerFrAlfons Keuter. The General Treasurer's office assumes responsibility forthe content and translation.


Table of contents
Introduction

1. Part One: Developments

1.1 Administration of Our Temporal Goods
1.2 Financial Self-reliance of Oblate Units
1.3 The Oblate Investment Pool
1.4 The State of Our Oblate Sharing
1.5 Evaluation of these developments

2. Part Two: Our Financial Situation

2.1 The General Administration
2.2 The Activities of the General Administration
2.3 The Congregation as a whole

3. Part Three: Some Observations

3.1 Our Goods Held in Common
3.2 Looking Ahead

Appendix:

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The Superior General in fulfillment of his responsibilityto report on the state of the Congregation as called for in Rule 117has asked me to present a detailed financial report to the Chapter. Asyou knowa select committee on finances will study this report and makeits recommendations to the Chapter body.

In Part One of my reportI will describe thedevelopments which have taken place from 1986 to 1998. This representsthe twelve years of the mandate of this Administration. In Part TwoI will report on the actual financial situation both of the General Administrationand of the Congregation. In Part ThreeI will offer personal observations.

 

Introduction

 

The changes which have taken place during the past fortyyears make the context of this report. When I entered the Oblates in 1958the Congregation lived from the income of its work in a more or less ruraleconomy. The work of the brothers on farms and in gardens was essentialfor our sustenance. The missions were supported by the home provinces.

Now we live only 30% from our pastoral work. The farms and gardens areclosed. The modern money economy has reached also the Oblates of MaryImmaculate; also for us money produces money as our income. New Provincesand Delegations can no longer count on home provinces to support them.Our farms have become burdensand the brothers tend to do pastoral workalong side the priests.

Forty years agoaccounting and reporting practiceswere held in secret. Todaythe provincial financial reports are discussedat nearly all regional meetings of provincial treasurers. Communitiesdiscuss the personal budgets and year-end financial reports.

Before 1972the General Administration was chargingfor each and every service. Today the General Administration is functioningsolely from the contributions of the Provincesand offers in additiona professional asset management service.

Especially you have to understand the first part ofthe report within this context of continuing changes. The report reflectshow this administration has tried to accompany all these developments.

 

1. Part One: Developments

 

1.1 Administrationof Our Temporal Goods
The CCRR state that provinces have the primary responsibility to providefor their revenuelivelihood and financial administration. While maintainingthis basic decentralized structurewe have initiated some congregation-widechanges.

1.1.1 Changes in Financial Reporting
During the eightieswith the advent of computersprovinces no longerfollowed our traditional six-page reporting system. They sent to the TreasurerGenerals office a listing of account balances based on local accountingprocedures and their own computer spread-sheet programs. This renderedimpossible any reliable comparison between the various Oblate units.
To overcome this problemwe developed a consolidated reporting formatthat requires information on the financial situation and the activityof the whole province or delegationincluding all of its communities.We made the report form shorter and moved from two six-months reportsto a single annual report.

We introduced regular feedback reports that make itpossible for provinces to compare their figures with the average figuresfor the Congregation. This is an important element to initiate discussionand communication in and between Provincesso that Oblate property isnow understood as Common Property.

1.1.2 Formation Programs for Provinceand Delegation Treasurers
We developed a series of formation programs for active or future provincetreasurers. Sessions are held similar to those held periodically for newmajor superiors in the Congregation. From 1986 to 1992 we concentratedon sessions at the local level and from 1992 to 1998 we held a seriesof central seminars: two in Englishone in French and one in Spanish.

1.1.3 Visits with Provincial andDelegation Councils
In keeping with a recommendation of the 1992 General Chapterthe TreasurerGeneral visited all the provincial and delegation councils of the Congregationexcept those in Canada. This offered the opportunity to present the GeneralAdministrations views and expectations regarding the financial situationof the respective provinces and to pursueas wella broad exchange onthe financial concerns of the Congregation.

In a decentralized structure such as oursthe provincialand council play an important role since all the assets of the Congregationare primarily administered at that level. During our exchangeit becameclear to the provincials and councils how proper financial reporting makesit possible for the General Administration to provide feedback informationthat can be helpful to their provincesespecially in realizing propertyas common property of the Congregation.

1.1.4 Financial Formation ÐParticularly at the Level of Initial Formation
The General Finance Committee developed a formation document with a numberof recommendations emphasizing the care and administration of our commonproperty. Whenever the opportunity arose the Treasurer General met thestaff and students of our formation communities to present and discussthis document.

1.1.5 Finance Committee
At the Gen. Chapter of 1992we added explicitly to the text of the Rule149 concerning Provincial Finance Committees that Delegations also musthave such a committee. The purpose of the Finance Committee is to promotethe prudent management of the financial resources of the Province andDelegation. Its first responsibility is to assist the provincial councilin determining appropriate norms for the use and administration of goodsso that the stewardship appropriate to Oblates is fosteredprotectedand expressed. (CIC 635§2). The 1983 Code of Canon Law is consistentin encouraging the use of the expertise of lay persons. By analogy withthe diocesan finance councilthe lay members of the committee are tobe experts in legal or financial matters. The committee is advisory tothe Provincial and his Council on fiscal matters through the ProvincialTreasurer.

1.2 Financial Self-relianceof Oblate Units
Over the past yearsserious efforts have been made towards greater financialself-reliance on the part of all Oblate units. Our decentralized structureshave led to the development of a variety of voluntary sharing programs.It is important for us to review continually and adjust appropriatelyour policies and programs in view of enabling an effective missionaryoutreach while encouraging self-reliance and accountability.

1.2.1 Sharing Institutions

(1) CONGREGATION
- Fernand Jetté Formation Fund
- Oblate Sharing Fund
- Credit Union
- Capital Sharing Program
- Oblate Investment Pool

(2) GENERAL ADMINISTRATION
- Allocation Fund for 1st Formation
- Fund for General Chapter
- Fund for Current Operation

(3) PROVINCES

1.2.2 History of Oblate Sharing Programs

1966: Credit Union: is a loan program.
1972: Oblate Sharing Fund (OSF): is a program to fund a variety of OMIprojects.
1986: Fernand Jetté Fund (FJF): is a program of support for initialformation.
1992: Capital Sharing Program (CSP): is a program to establish restrictedpatrimony.

1.2.3 Differences Between Sharing Funds and CapitalSharing Program

OSF / FJF -> provide grants for projects
CSP -> provides revenue for ordinary expenses

OSF / FJF -> funds are used up in projects
CSP -> money remains productive for the future

OSF / FJF-> can create dependency
CSP -> promotes self-reliance

1.2.4 Capital Sharing and the 1992General Chapter
A Capital Sharing Program for the Congregation was mandated by the 1992General Chapter. The Chapter decision called for a Coordinating Boardto oversee a sharing of capital within the Congregation between and amongall Provinces and Delegations. The primary goal is to ensure that allOblate units can cover at least 80% of their ordinary expenses with revenuefrom work and investments. Funds donated towards this capital sharingare seen as contributing to the development of self-reliance throughoutthe Congregation. The present mandate extends to the General Chapter of2004 at which time its effectiveness will be evaluated. The followingare features of the Capital Sharing Program.

a. Contributors: All 65 Oblate entities are askedto participate in the Capital Sharing Program even through a modest giftfrom its patrimony. This highlights the fact that our financial holdingsare for the common good of all Oblates as it is expressed in Rule 15:We "will be solicitous in sharing resources with Oblates workingin poorer areas and in missions with fewer material goods."

b. Recipients: Oblate entities whose requestsmeet established conditions will receive a capital grant with certainrestrictions attached to its ownership.

c. Ownership Restrictions: When Capital is grantedownership is transferred with the following restrictions:

- the capital being stable patrimony to help cover ordinaryexpenses is not to be touched for 15 years.
- the capital is invested in the Oblate Investment Pool.
- only the interest is to be used: It is recommended that only 80% ofthe interest earned is to be usedthe rest of it to be re-invested inthe capital.

d. Amount of Capital Shared: The Board has studiedthe requests of 20 Provinces and Delegations. 18 Provinces and Delegationsmet the established conditions. To themthe total amount of $10695000was allocated. But as of July 11998$4956000 plus $227000 pledgesfor 1998 and 1999 have been given and were actually transferred throughthe program. Therefore we still have to raise $5412.000 to meet our pledges.The request of two Delegations will be discussed again with others tocome in the future. - The good effects of this capital sharing are alreadyobvious in the fact that the first recipients of capital sharing allocationsdid not request any grants from the Oblate Sharing Fund in 1997.

e. Amount of Capital Needed: In 1992 the aimwas 10 million US dollars. In the light of our experience of the pastsix yearsa total amount of 14 million US dollars will be needed untilthe year 2004. It would seem that this amount can be raised from the surplusreported annually by Provinces and Delegations.

f. General Chapter of the year 2004: The 2004General Chapter will evaluate the Capital Sharing Program to see its effectson the self reliance of the Provinces. Due to diminishing membershipthis Chapter will have to take appropriate decisions to ensure the futurefinancial stability of the Congregation.

1.3 The OblateInvestment Pool (OIP)
Our former practice as a General Administration included an interest-bearingdeposit service offered to our provinces and Oblate Bishops. This serviceeventually escalated to 50% of the General Administration balance sheetand could not simply continue as a deposit service. Along with this weincreasingly became aware of low investment earningsespecially amongour smaller provinces and delegations.

1.3.1 Establishment of the OIP: In light of theabovea central administrative structure was established in January of1991 creating a situation in which all parties involved share fully inboth the risks and the earnings. This approach is in line with a decentralizedorganization such as ourswith each Oblate unit retaining the ownershipof its funds. This new structure also has the advantage of serving asa bank for the Capital Sharing Program. The diversification of investmentsamong seven different markets provides a greater security for our investedassets.

1.3.2 The Legal Structure: The OIP was officiallyinaugurated as an arm of the General Administration on January 11991.In 1994 it was legally separated from the General Administration and establishedas an independentnot-for-profitlegal entity in Germanyrecognizedthroughout the rest of Europethe United States and Canada as well. Itstitle is presently the Association of Oblates for International Pastoralregistered (O.I.P.). The Board keeps the General Administration regularlyinformed.

1.3.3 Benefiting from the Earnings: Now our investmentstake full advantage of the world equity and bond market. This is in keepingwith the good stewardship of our patrimony because we have changed ourstrategy from short term deposits to long-term investments which givesthe opportunity of higher return. It is in the interest of the Congregationto administer our assets for the benefit of the members and our mission.

Since 1991the world market has averaged a 12.1% annual yield. The OIPhas produced a 11.4% return after costs which constitutes a sizeable increasefrom what was earned through our former investment practices. In factthe OIP has doubled the capital of the first participants in less thanseven years. What we have done reflects a practice generally adopted byreligious Congregations and church groups today.

1.4 The State ofOur Oblate Sharing
The overall picture of the financial sharing taking place between variousOblate units has been studied by the General and members of the GeneralCouncil along with the General Finance Committee. A few observations atthis time:

1.4.1 The level of sharing within the Congregationis considerable surpassing 8 million U.S. dollars annually accordingto a questionnaire for the years 1995 and 1996not including the allocationof the OSF and the transfer of mass stipends.

1.4.2 Requests made to our various Oblate sharingfunds often lack the type of information useful in carrying out ourown fund raising campaignor are not detailed enough to refer to non-oblatefunding agencies.

1.4.3 We need to direct our money primarily tothose Oblate projects which cannot be funded by outside agencies. It isimportant to be able to recognize those projects for which outside fundingmay be obtained.

1.4.4 Based on the above observationstwoproposals for the consideration of this Chapter Body are in order:

- That a standard application format and procedurebe adopted for use throughout the Congregation. This format will helpto present the information necessary to refer requests for the fundingof development projects to appropriate outside agencies.

- That a post be created to provide a representativeof the Congregation to establish contacts with funding agencies throughoutthe world.

1.5 Conclusionof Part One: Evaluation of these Developments
Considerable progress has been made at the various levels of financialmanagement in the Congregation. Besides the obvious structural developmentsrelated to the Oblate Investment Pool and to the Capital Sharing ProgramI would mention the following:

1.5.1 The quality of our financial administrationhas been enhanced throughout the Congregation thanks to the training sessionsfor Provincial Treasurers and the new uniform consolidated reporting format.Quality feedback is now available to facilitate better long-range planningand communication at the province and general levels. Togetherthesedevelopments have greatly improved our understanding and practice of accountabilityand have contributed to the standardizing of bookkeeping and accountingpractices.

1.5.2 Through our formation efforts amoreresponsible understanding of common property and a greater ownership ofinvestments at the province level has come into play. Given our decentralizedstructureit is of value to see our financial assets as common propertyfor Oblate mission and the importance of inter-province sharing as anintegral part of our missionary structures. Separate treatments in ourConstitutions and Rules for the individual vow of poverty and for theAdministration of common temporal goods should help us understand bothsides of the coin: the orientation of our individual vow of poverty towardsa greater simplicity of life and the orientation of our temporal goodsas common property towards a responsible stewardship.

1.5.3 An appropriate integration of the Provinceand Delegation Treasurer within the provincial and delegation councilstructure has yet to be achieved in some parts of the Congregation. Theadministration of the common property of the Oblate Congregation is entrustedto the Province and Delegation Treasurers because all assets of the Congregationare administered at this level. It is important that they be present inthe Council when discussion occurs and when decisions are taken concerningthe common property of the province. A second argument for his presencemay be: The Congregation moves to a situationwhere money produces thebigger part of our incomeno longer the work of the Oblates. The participationof the Province Treasurer will be in the best interest of the Congregation.

 


 

 

2. Part Two: OurFinancial Situation

 

2.1 The General Administration

2.1.1 The Financial Situation of the General Administration
The total assets diminished since the last General Chapter. The transferof custodial accounts to the OIP caused this reduction. The current assetsare higher because of saving accounts with three banks. This is more convenientfor the General Administration since it is more readily available thanthe long term investment with the OIP.

The Liabilities are reduced by more than half becauseof lower deposits.

The Oblate Patrimony increased by $2.2 millionwhichis $146 million in the Congregation's Funds and $0.76 million in theGeneral Administration's Funds.

The overall situation is quite sound.

2.1.2 The Funds of the Congregation
The Congregation has two supplementary Funds: The "Oblate SharingFund" (OSF) and the"Fernand Jetté Formation Fund"(FJF).

The OSF is to assist Provinces and Delegationsin their sustenanceformationhealth and retirement as well as for missionaryworks. The FJF is to help meet the cost of initial formation inProvinces and Delegations unable to do so.

Both Funds are administered by the Superior Generalin Council. An interest of eight percent generated by the capital of thesetwo funds is distributed annually. Requests for grants have to be receivedat the General Administration by March 31on an official form and mustbe endorsed by the Major Superior.

The Oblate Credit Uniona CooperativegivesProvinces and Delegations low interests loans for extraordinary projects.It has a capital of $4.011.794from which $3.475.984 is in use.

2.1.3 The Funds of the General Administration
The Funds of the General Administration are in funds designated for initialformation allocationsfor General Chapter expensesfor current operationdeficitsand for the Purchase of property in Aix.

The undesignated Fund of the General Administrationis considered its Net Worth. Earnings from these funds are used to financeformation sessionsthe Aix programsthe cost of various publicationsthe Association for Oblate Researchas well as other animation activities.(In the General Administration's linguistic usage we call this "SpecialBudget".)

2.2 The Activities of the GeneralAdministration

2.2.1 Revenue and Expenditures
Revenues in both ordinary and special budgets exceeded expenditures. Weended up with an overall surplus.

The policy of the Congregation has been to cover ordinaryexpenditures of the General Administration with the contributions of Provincesand Delegations. This is no longer possible. Over the past six yearsthe shortfall totaled some $800.000. This deficit was covered with incomefrom donations and giftsfrom the sale of inventoryfrom ministry ofthe members of the General Administrationand by reallocating some reserves.I shall revue with you the details of the ordinary budget. First a lookat the special budget.

Although we show a surplus in the special budgetitis good to note that we have been showing significantly lower revenuesover the past six yearsand increasing expenses.

Total revenues are down some $5 million since the lastChapter. The capital gains are lower because of change in policy: theOSF/FJF portion was credited to the OSF/FJF capital.

Some high cost expenditure items:

General Services: - Chapter and Inter-ChapterSessions: $140.000 increase. -- Expenses for Aix programs: $140.000 increase.

Administrat. Services: - Canonization $90.000;-- OMI Atlas & Personnel $45.000.

Sharing Services: - Gift of $200.000 to CapitalSharing Program.

Portfolio Services: - Lower cost for us due toa decreased number of depositors.

Upkeep of property: - The full cost of majorrenovations of the General House was paid from investment earnings. Provinceswere not asked to contribute.

2.2.2 Ordinary Revenue from Provincial Contributionsfor the General Administration
When the Congregation was divided into Provincesin 1853the expensesof the General Administration were met through a tax on the Provinces.(cf. Appendix ) The mode of taxation varied over the years. Since 1975Provinces are taxed based on the number of Oblates (all Oblates who havecompleted initial formation are counted ) and according to the followingthree categories.

First Category: Developing countries: 55 ECU
Second Category: In between first and third:115 ECU
Third Category: Developed countries:180 ECU

Since 1992our membership has diminished by 10%mostlyin the highest paying category. During that time we increased the headtax only once by 10%. We have decided on an increase in 1998 - 200/120/57ECU. - The ECU currency was selected as the currency basis to better handlecurrency fluctuation. (Our reporting is in US$our expenses are mostlyin ITL. When the US$ is highexpenses in ITL are loweralso contributionwill be lower and vice versa.)

With your contributions you do not only finance theGeneral Administrationbut you get also the service: The members of theGen. Administration travel to you for various eventsthe service of theinformation department which cost over $100.000 each yearand the serviceincluding airport transportation for all visitors who are not obligedto pay for their stay in the General House.

2.2.3 Ordinary Expenditures of the General Administration
It is important to note that there have been changes in expense categories.For exampledepreciation was formerly indicated for each department;now it is included in one sum under "General Service". Formerlya lump sum was paid for the General Administration to cover the expensesof the General House Community; now we are paying salaries to the GeneralHouse Community according to the Oblates working for the General Administration.

General Service:
Besides the new depreciation line itemthere has been an increase ofsome $340.000 in this category over the past six years. This reflectsincreases in salaries; higher travel costs; expenses for new committeessuch as OBCOM and Capital Sharing Program; an increase in contributionsto the Holy See.

Administrative Service:
There has been an increase of $235.280 over the past six years. The Officeshave increased the salaries and cost of travel; the Procurator and thePostulator being service personneltheir salaries are now paid to theGeneral House Community; there have been increases in cost of mailingfor the Information Services. There was a reduction in costs for pensiondue to the death of some former members of the General Administration.

Collective Service:
This service covers the costs of receiving visitors as well as other services.We experienced a slight decrease of $3.200 although postage costs werehigher.

Personnel Service: (= 12 members of the GeneralAdministration)
We experienced a decrease of $270.300 in this category. This is due tothe reduced size of the community (12 only) and a new way of calculatingthe per diem at the General House.

2.2.4 Where We Find Ourselves
To meet the ordinary expenditureswe had to add to the Province Contributionsthe income from ministryand we tapped into a reserve fund of unusedProvince contributions accumulated during the 1980's which is now nearlyempty. It is important to understand that ordinary expenses can no longerbe met through the contributions of the Provinces. New sources of ordinaryincome must be developed. This Chapter must address this issue. In doingso it must also consider the need for additional specialized staff forthe General Administration which means increased expenses. Predictableincome must be projectedperhaps from a designated investment fund.

2.3 The Congregation as a whole
The data for this section of the report is the addition of the 62 consolidatedreports of our Provinces and Delegations. Consolidation means the financesof the Administration and of the Communities. While more accurate than6 years agowe still have a way to go.

2.3.1 State of Assets
While we show only a modest increase in our total assets from one Chapterto another ($10.000.000)we see a significantly changed situation withinthese categories. We have a marked increase in investments (financialassets) and a noticeable decrease in bothcurrent and fixed assets. Thisindicates:

1. The decrease in fixed assets reflects the adjustmentto the historical costs for all entities.
2. Our assets are more productively invested than six years ago.
3. Gains from sale and from investments were reinvested and increasedOMI patrimony.
4. The OMI patrimony increased over the past six years.

I consider this an appropriate growth. It reflects asound situation. Pleasedo pay attention to the increase in real liabilities.Note as well that the deposits held formerly by the Mother-Provinces fortheir Delegations and Missions were transferred to the OIP. - We haveto add assets for other Oblate entities such as universities etc.

2.3.2 Revenue and Expenses
The General Administration has changed various line items within the categoryof Ordinary Expensesso only the subtotal can be compared.

The deficit in the ordinary budget (revenue from Oblatework and expenses for Oblate community) increased slightlybut the increasein revenue from investments increased substantially. This is the reasonfor the $4 Mil increased surplus. The amount in gifts is quite stable.

2.3.3 Contributions to Provincial Administration
Since the division into Provinces in 1853each community in the Provincewas expected to send their surplus to the Provincial Administration. (cf.Rule 145) Over the years this good practice changed in some areas of theCongregation. Todaythe communities of 10 Provinces and 14 Delegations(this is 30% of the units of the Congregation) do not contribute to theirprovincial / delegation administration. This could certainly support individualism.

 

3. Part Three: SomeObservations

 

3.1 Our Goods Held in Common

3.1.1 Common property: Oblates are bound by thevow of povertysupported by common property owned by each legal Oblateentity. It appears to me that some Oblates do not act with the awarenessof the fact that all our temporal goods are common property of the Congregationfor the mission of the poor. I feel that a proper sense of responsibilityfor this common property is missing. The step from this state to realabuse resulting in the waste of common property is indeed a small one.

Essential for the understanding of common property isthat the communities are informed about itand that they speak aboutit. There is no real community where the financial dimension is excluded.Therefore disclosure and discussion about our assets will create the spiritualdimension of our property and increase the responsible use of our assets.This needs to be an area of special concern for first formation.

3.1.2 Self-reliance: Constitution 78 states thatan Oblate province must have sufficient revenue for its stability anddevelopment. A delegation as an entity on its way to becoming a provincemust find ways to eventually provide for its autonomous financial functioning.Some delegations do not realize this and seem to expect to be supportedforever. Ministries that bring a positive support to a delegation aresometimes too quickly discardedthus affecting the development and stabilityof the delegation.

3.1.3 Lifestyle: Living standards are supportedby the collective achievement of the members' labor. If the group's labordoes not produce sufficient revenue and the basis of its stability resultsfrom investmentsthe provincial and council must take care that the provincedoes not become totally independent of the fruit of its laborand alsothat the lifestyle corresponds to the people with whom we work and amongstwhom we live. It is a fact that some Oblate units work with the poor whocannot contribute to our sustenance. These Oblates depend on investments.But it is also a factthat other Oblates accumulate wealth with theirinvestment earnings. What are the values underlying our accumulation ofwealth? Is it a question of security and protection? Is it a means formission? Is it to assure a comfortable lifestyle?

I am moved by other questions concerning lifestyle:Do all our provinces really see their capital as part of the global commonproperty of all Oblates? Our Chapter theme surely invites us to see ourproperty as being at the service of the evangelization of the poor. Mustwe continue the practice of 2 or 3 month home leave in an era of air-travel?Are we truly supporting a missionary practice when we harbor the attitudeof a 40 hour workweek?

3.1.4 Oblates as Builders: The situation is asfollows. Since the 1992 Chapterthe General Administration gave permissionto build 60 houses at an overall cost of about US$42.179.853. In detail22 constructions were formation houses11 provincial houses and 4 housesfor senior retired Oblatesthe other 23 were for pastoral and other purposes.In the developing continents the number of vocations is increasing andwe have been obliged to build new formation houses. For the years aheadthe following formation houses can be projected: CameroonKoreaLatinAmerica.

Since the 1992 Chapterthe General Administration gavepermission for the alienation of 29 houses for a total of more than US$20.000.000.It would be a real help if from the sale of these houses and propertiesin the developed continents some money would be fed to the Credit Unionso that it can be used to help those who have to buy or build new houses.

What can be done so that there is proper consultationin the Regionand that no decisions are taken too hastily and then regrettedafterwards?

3.2 Looking Ahead:
"The community's possessions will be administered carefully."
(R.14)
We can expect a changing financial picture in the future. Our personnelsituation will be a cause of revenue problems after the year 2004.

3.2.1 In the western world with its constantincrease of wealth in generalwe will have less revenue due to fewervocations within a falling birthrate. Like the population in generalOblates will live longer creating a larger non-earning group with increasinghealth and ageing costs. Only in some countries do we qualify for statepensions. Elsewhere we have to live from our own old age provisions.

3.2.2 In developing countries with a slower increaseof wealtha higher birthrate will favor more vocations. The securityprovided by religious life and church service will attract young people.Local revenues for religious will be low and even non-existent becausebishops will keep affluent parishes for their diocesan clergy.

3.2.3 For us Oblatesour most promising strategyis to continue with our Capital Sharing Program. Of course we risk dependingon investments and relying very little on our works. We will have to makea constant effort not to lose touch with the laity and the real world.

With lower revenues and higher expenses we will haveto pay close attention to our common property and cultivate a high levelof accountability through the proper ongoing training of treasurers andsharing information. We will need to improve our financial reports whichrepresents reliable consolidated information on all of our administrationsand communities; as well we need encourage a heightened sense of responsibilityfor our common property.

We will have to be creative in stimulating local incomeand in producing revenue from our real estate.

 

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Appendix:

 

NINTH GENERAL CHAPTER
August 4 - 121856

 

INTRODUCTION
The Ninth General Chapter was convoked at the General House of Montolivetnear Marseilles by a circular letter of Bishop de Mazenod dated March121856. This Chapterreunited at the expiration of the six years allowedby the Ruletook place from August 4 Ð 121856.

The development of the Congregation: 1850 - 1856
In this general glance on the state of the Congregation at the date ofthe Chapterwe take as a starting point the division of the Society inprovinces and vicariatesdecreed at the 1850 Chapter. In August 1856the Congregation consisted of 4 Provinces (first and second in FranceCanada and England)4 mission vicariates (Saint-BonifaceOregonNataland Ceylon)and the missions of Texas.

The Rev. Fr. Procurator General then made known theordinary sources of revenue of the General Treasury and the expenses thatwere obliged to be made annually. From this presentation it is clear thatthe resources of this account are far from being able to suffice for ordinaryneedsand still less to meet some eventuality for which it would howeverbe important to be ready.

Following this statementwhich showed that the Congregationwithout being in a position which must cause worryis nevertheless notwithout difficulties which hamper its action and prevent it from pursuingsome projects which it would be useful however to see realized.

[The Founder recommends the spirit of poverty]
Our Reverend Superior General took advantage of the occasion which naturallyarose to remind all the members present of the obligation of conformingmore and more to the spirit of poverty which our holy Rules prescribeand to avoid any expense which would not be of absolute necessity.

[The institution of a reserve account]
Bishop Guibertsensing the gravity of this financial situation expressedthe desire that they begin as soon as possible to gather a considerablesum of money to make a fund distinct from ordinary revenue destined tofacilitate the usual operations of the Congregation and to preserve itfrom any danger of worry in unforeseen cases. Thus this should be a provisionfor contingencies that is somewhat inalienable; that iswhich would onlybe used as a loan and under the express condition of always being reimbursed.Such an ideaso evidently for the good of the Congregationshould meetgeneral approval. All the members indeed favorably welcomed itand inspite of some divergence of opinion in the manner of obtaining this sumthey promised with the most laudable willingness their support for therealization of this project as quickly as possible.

After the Veni Sancte and the reading of the minutesthe following resolution resulting from the discussion which had takenplace at the preceding meeting was unanimously passed.

[Canons on book-keeping and Reserve Currency]
The General Chaptersatisfied with the rendering of the accounts whichwere presented to itexpressed the desire that the book-keeping be perfectedas early as possible in the provinces according to the fashion which wasfollowed in the First Province of Franceand which will be communicatedby regulations from the Reverend Superior General. Then taking into considerationthe wish put forward by Bishop Guibert in the preceding meetingof forminga permanent reserve fund in the Treasury of the Congregationand wishingto give a ruling as much on the question of principle as on the mannerof executionthe Chapter unanimously voted the two following canons:

Canon 1. On the basis of the importance of theCongregation and the great expansion that it has takenthe General Chapterdecides that there will be formed in the General Treasury a reserve funddestined to facilitate the operations of the Administration and to dealwith eventualities which can arise. This capital must not be used forordinary expensesand must always be represented in the treasury in cashor in securities.
Canon 2. The General Chapterrelying on the zeal and devotionof all the members of the Congregationdecides that the reserve fundwhose sum is expressed in the minuteswill be formed by the participationof the provinces or mission vicariatesand it leaves the Reverend SuperiorGeneral the care of determining the contributory part and fixing the timelimit in which the sums will have to be paid.

 

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A ION OF TEXTS
FROM THE FOUNDER'S LETTERS ON GOVERNMENT

 

 

Sharing and mutual help with a family spirit

 

Letter to Msgr. GuiguesProvincial of CanadaJanuary201857
"I have been somewhat taken aback by the resistance all our fathershave shown to the General Chapter's decision about the Provinces' contributionto the general fund. Here is a new proof of how little family spirit theyhave - even to the point that they become unjust. Is there a single Congregationthat does not contribute to its head house? Often enough this goes fornothing else but the maintenance of the General and his Counciland thehouse where they live; but for us it is for educationand for the maintenanceof our Novitiates and Scholasticateswhose members later go out intoall the countries evangelized by the Congregation. How shameful."

Letter to Fr. HonoratSuperior at BytownOctober91857
"Always you have good reasons for not wanting to give what both dutyand right thinking should lead you to give most readily. Herewe willbe forming members at considerable costand you will have no part init. Be willing then to make sacrificesand not isolate yourself fromall the burdens the entire Congregation must bear for the good of thefamily. I cannot tell you how sorry I am to see this kind of selfishness...."

Letter to Msgr. GuiguesNovember 231860
"Leaving aside the huge debts we have had to contract in buildingresidences for those whom divine Providence sends uswhom can we askto feed and clothe the hundred or so novices and scholastics now preparingand studying in order to serve God and the Church in the Congregation?

Take it on yourself then to instill a bit more loveof the family into those who could be blamed for having let it grow cold."

 

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