no. 1 january - march 2003
CONVOCATION OF THE COUNCIL OF PROVINCES
Meeting to be held in Casa Beato Nuno in Fatima, Portugal September 1-11, 2003
The Prior General, Joseph Chalmers, O. Carm., convoked the XV Council of Provinces for September 1-11, 2003 at Fatima, Portugal.
The gathering will focus on the idea of how authority can help in the promotion of the charism. There will also be a presentation and discussion of the finances of the Order and some current problems in the Church and Order. The schedule has been arranged to allow for regional meetings.
The theme of the last General Chapter focused on how to translate our recent documents from theory into practice. This is another step in that process. We will be looking at ways Provincials and local priors enable Provinces and communities to work on these documents so that all Carmelites will have the opportunity to drink from the wells of Carmelite spirituality that our documents contain, said Joseph Chalmers.
An instrumentum laboris is being prepared for use at the meeting. This document is based on the responses received from the Provinces and the Commissariates to a questionnaire distributed last fall. This document is intended to help the participants move forward based on the work of the previous General Chapter.
We will look at how authority is exercised in the Order at present and what points merit greater attention, said the Prior General. We will examine concrete modes of action for the future so that we can be more faithful to what God is asking of us.
Further information about the Council of Provinces will be distributed to the participants by the General Secretary. The International Communications Commission is also planning on providing a website so that members of the Order can follow the progress of the gathering.
The 2003 Council of Provinces was originally scheduled to be held in Batu, Indonesia. However, because of the political situation in that area, the General Council moved the meeting to Fatima.
The 1971 General Chapter focused primarily on the election of a new Prior General and the rewriting of the Orders Constitutions. But the impact of the Second Vatican Council continued to be felt. Many divergent opinions were evident as the Order grappled with connecting the reforms of Vatican with the life of the Order.
It was generally agreed that there was a need to bring people together for lengthier discussion of specific topics than the General Chapters could provide. Geographical regions were set up, each with the president. These presidents were to come together once a year for discussions of a particular topic. After several years, the gathering was expanded to include all Priors Provincial and others would be invited.
According to John Malley, former Prior General, there were two purposes. First, these gatherings helped the Provincials get to know each other better and to know the members of the General Council. They really helped the sense of fraternity. Secondly, they helped us to zero in on some aspect of our charism, to deal with it at length, and to get a message out to the Order on it. I think we deepened our insights. The six years between the General Chapters was just too far apart for all that was going on within the Church.
The 1995 Constitutions call for the Council of Provinces to ensure greater participation of the Provinces in the central government of the Order, to monitor trends and needs with the Order, with a view to providing orientations to the Prior General and to his Council, to contribute to an evaluation of the development of the Order (#288).
The Constitutions provide that a Council of Provinces membership include the Prior General, the members of the General Council, the Priors Provincial, the General Commissaries, the Provincial Commissaries, the Presidents of the Regions, and the Superiors of the General Delegations (#289). It is now convened two years after the General Chapter (#290)