GC27: Rector Major’s Report, a call to pastoral conversion

The study of the present state of the Congregation is near completion. Yesterday afternoon, 3 March, the opening day of the 27th General Chapter, Fr Pascual Chávez gave the report on his twelve years as Rector Major, brining to a conclusion the reports already given by the General Councillors. He described his report as  “an overview and, if possible, also a prophetic vision for the future.”

04-03-2013-GC27-RM_ReportHe began  by saying, “The assessment of the last twelve years of government is generally positive … However, the overall objectives have not been fully achieved. A change of mentality takes a long time . We need to insist and to strive for continuity.”

There were also some personal comments: “in line with the broad directives of GC26, I tried to promote  among the confreres a deeper knowledge of Don Bosco and a more visible and more effective presence among young people.”

In the programme for government  for the last six years three areas were identified: return to Don Bosco and start afresh from him; the urgent need of evangelization; a simple life and moving to new frontiers. Within these areas specific goals were set and many of these were largely achieved. This is no small thing for a congregation “that is now present in 132 countries,  the most widespread religious congregation in the Church and in the world. Inevitably however, it moves at different speeds in different places.”

A culture of vocations, a commitment to be faithful to Don Bosco in the service of young people, the problem of vocations and formation, and the vocation of the Salesian Brother – these are the issues and real situations that have required the attention of the government of the Congregation.

The General Council has “made a deep and constant study of two particular issues, and has assumed the responsibility to identify and determine the policy of the Congregation in their regard: the issue of sexual abuse (zero tolerance of confreres involved in this abominable and painful crime) and the topic of proper administration of goods.”

The Report was enhanced by a video directed by Fr Donato Lacedonio and produced by Don Bosco Missions. It serves as a chronicle of the six-year period that is drawing to a close.

Coming towards the end, Fr Chávez stated that the current environment calls for a pastoral change.  “This is not basically an administrative or legal act, but a pastoral activity. It means being present in a new way wherever we are, more responsive to the needs of young people,  and also being present in fields where we have not been so far and where our presence is more needed.”

Finally, he said: ” We need to learn the art of dying and the art of living, letting go of what ought to die, so that the new can germinate, blossom and bear fruit. This is the work of the Spirit, who removes the heart of stone and replaces it with a heart of flesh, renewing the face of the earth. We have to raise the stakes and dare to say openly and clearly who we are, what we want and what we are asking for, without lessening our demands or the needs we face.”

A warm and prolonged applause marked the conclusion of the report that serves not only as a look at the past, but also as the first opportunity to hand over to a successor.

First Published by InfoANS