GENERAL ADMINISTRATIONGENERAL CHAPTER: Superior General’s report is on line
The Oblate Constitutions and Rules, in R 126a, states: During the Chapter, the Superior General presents a report on the state of the Congregation and on its financial situation; the report is then examined by the Chapter.
For the first time in Oblate history, this significant report of the Superior General, Fr. Wilhelm Steckling, is available even before the Chapter, on the internet, for study by the whole Congregation and our Oblate friends and Associates. Father General hopes that this early airing of his report will give not only the capitulars but also the rest of the greater Oblate family some food for reflection, discussion and prayer in the days that lead up to the Chapter.
The 35th General Chapter will begin at the Casa La Salle in Rome on the morning of September 8, 2010. There will be 89 capitulars -- ex officio members and elected or appointed delegates -- who will begin this month-long experience of fraternal sharing. Some of our Oblate Lay Associates will be present in the early days of the meeting. The Chapter is scheduled to close on October 8 after the capitulars will have fulfilled their duty of setting future directions for the Congregation and electing a new Superior General and General Council.
Oblate Communications Service will make every effort to keep the Oblate family aware of what is happening at the Chapter, especially through our website, www.omiworld.org. There will be frequent news bulletins posted on the site in the three official languages of the Congregation.
During the Chapter itself, “electronic communication” will be a common practice. Rather than giving each capitular a large dossier of printed documents, many of the chapter-related documents will be on a “memory key” or “flash drive” which the capitular will be able to plug into the USB port on his laptop or another computer. If he wants a particular document in printed form, he will be able to ask for it from the auxiliary personnel. The Chapter Commission sees this as a more realistic way of sharing information with the capitulars in this computer era and also as a way to practice good environmental stewardship.
On June 10, 2010, the committee mandated by the 34th General Chapter to review the government structures of the Congregation completed its task. The final proposals of the committee to the 35th General Chapter are being translated and will be sent to the capitulars in early July.
According to their mandate found in “Witnessing to Hope,” the task of the committee was to “review the structures and functioning of government,” primarily at the levels of the General Chapter, the Central Government, the Regions and the various Units.
Beginning on September 12, 2005, the committee appointed by the Superior General in Council conducted various consultations, including capitulars from previous General Chapters, capitulars for the upcoming Chapter as well as the entire Congregation. The proposals went through many modifications as a result of these consultations. A member of the committee was also able to be present in every region for a meeting with provincials and elected delegates to the upcoming Chapter, in order to explain the proposals, respond to questions and get a sense of what the capitulars are thinking.
Looking towards the future of our Congregation, the Committee came up with some main assumptions or directions: strengthening provinces; making regions more operational; having efficacious Chapters; having a well-functioning Central Government. The proposed changes try to spell out these four main assumptions.
Some of the proposed changes in the Constitutions and Rules have to do with the composition of the Central Government, in an effort to make a more explicit distinction between the functions of government and those of administration, and in order to give more flexibility and clarity to the relationship between the Central Government and the Regions and Units. There are also changes proposed concerning the frequency of General Chapters and, consequently, the length of the mandate of the Central Government. A specific mandate of the 34th General Chapter was to study the possibility of delegating some governmental authority to regional conferences; this too is included in the proposals. There are also proposed changes in the selection of delegates to the General Chapter, in order to assure the right to vote to all Oblates in perpetual vows and to assure a proportionate representation of Oblate priests and Brothers at the Chapter. There is also a proposal concerning the ideal size of a province.
The committee was made up of Frs. Ryszard SZMYDKI, Filadelfo ESTRELLA, Victor SANTOYO, Séamus FINN and Jean-Marie BULUMUNA (who resigned from the committee in early 2009). In 2008, Fr. Paolo ARCHIATI joined the committee as the liaison of the Central Government. Fr. James ALLEN has served as the committee’s secretary.
Of great assistance to the committee were its Canon Law consultants, Fr. Frank MORRISEY and the Procurator General, Fr. Roberto SARTOR.
The second volume of Historical Dictionary of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate has just been printed. It’s a volume of 670 pages with 384 titled articles: 108 about houses and various other things; 245 about Oblates; and 31 about non-Oblates, especially bishops with whom the Founder and the Oblates had a connection. More than half of these Oblates (151) worked in Canada and the United States; 34 in Sri Lanka; 14 in South Africa; and about 50 in England and Ireland where many priests and Brothers stayed before being sent to other Oblate mission countries, all in British colonies.
Thirty authors, especially Oblates, contributed toward the publication of the volume in which there are many photographs, geographical maps and, at the end of the volume, an index of articles in volumes I and II.
These two volumes and the collection Écrits oblats (30 volumes)form an impressive body which permits Oblates of today and of the future to have a deeper knowledge of the life of the Founder and the history of the Congregation over its first fifty years of existence.
The cost of Volume II is 35 Euros plus airmail postage.