Thursday, 3 November 2016

Count down days on Day 32 of GC 36?

Conversations about checking or buying one's ticket home are common these days.  People estimate that may be one week may complete everything.   This could be very subjective since a certain amount of fatigue enters  after so many days of concentrated meetings in the aula.  However, objectively the major document/ decrees which need completion are the mission and life decree and a number of  shorter ones.

This morning began with announcements of new Provincials of Venezuela and Ecuador, and the new secretary of the Society will be Antoine Kerhuel.   Antoine was the former Assistant for Western Europe.  The new appointments in Rome of the new General are somewhat a continuity with the old guard.  10 new Provincials will be announced over the next few days including one for Ireland.

The day continued with discussions around changes of the Formula concerning the running of a General Congregation including the role of non elected members in a Congregation and when the retired General should leave the Congregation.  Many technical issues were discussed  and these will be referred to a Judicial committee for continued study.  In terms of evaluating the process of this Congregation it is notable how much time has been spent on judicial and governance issues and less time on mission and life issues.  There is such a depth of experience in the aula of different mission contexts, it is sad the process so far has been unable to plumb the depth of this richness.   However, at lunch time there was an informal meeting on Syria with Dany, the  Provincial of the near East Province, Victor the  former Provincial and with Fr. Jacques Mourad who was kidnapped by ISIS.  Two Sisters who work in Syria were also present.  It was a wonderful 'temoignage' of bravery, commitment  and hope amidst a seeming hopeless situation

Fr. Nicola the former General has written two letters concerning the urgency of the Near East and asked the  whole Society to respond to the crisis in Syria and surrounding countries. It was noted by Dany the Provincial of  the NE Province how the christian population is fast disappearing.  Only 300,000 christians are left in Iraq from a population of over 1.3 million.  Christians in the Near East have been the agents of medical , social and educational services for the whole population -Muslim as well as Christians and everyone suffers with them because of their absence.  Fr. Mourad was asked how was his time as a hostage and he related that it was kind of retreat for him. In  response to a question about ISIS he responded that many ISIS members are forced recruits either out of poverty and alienation from the serial dictatorships in the countries they come from and very few Syrians are willing fighters for ISIS.  Many other questions asked how we can respond in the West.  Advocacy was spoken of, being a welcome presence to refugees who come to our countries and helping Syrians to network with one another in their country of refuge was another response to  a question on how one can help. It was a moving encounter especially when one of the Sisters related that in her community in Syria, prayer sustained the people and especially, knowing that many people are praying for them around the world as they  hear the bombs dropping in the distance.
 Fr. Jacques Mourad was abducted by ISIS from the monastery of Mar Musa in Nebek, Syria and  escaped after 5 months.

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