Rome, 5 June 2011
Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord
To all the friars of the Order
I write to you in the Hope which our Risen Lord has given us, entrusting his sweet presence to the strength of the Spirit in the weakness of our flesh: “Behold I am with you always, even to the end of the world” (Mt 28, 20).
Our Order participates in Christ’s campaign to man and to the world through our charism of fraternity, service to and with Mary, compassion, and attempting to stand like Mary, “at the foot of countless crosses, bringing comfort and redemptive cooperation” (Const. 319).
A significant moment in the life of our Order is the celebration, every six years, of a General Chapter which, as our Constitutions recall, is convoked by the Prior General “for the election of the Prior General, the Procurator of the Order, the General Councilors and Secretary of the Order; for the protection of its spiritual patrimony; for fostering unity within the Order; and for updating its legislation, for planning and for other business” (Const. 254).
The decrees of the 2007 General Chapter determined that “for the preparation of the elective General Chapter, about two years before, the General Council itself or a commission appointed for this purpose, should survey the whole Order” (Acts of the 2007 General Chapter, n. 75). This letter, addressed to every friar of our Order, constitutes the beginning of this consultation.
In its meeting of 1 April 2011, the General Council decided not to appoint a commission, but to conduct this process itself, making use of collaborators on an ad hoc basis and particularly through three consultations, through which it hopes to reach a significant number – both in quantity and quality – of friars in our Order.
In the second week of May, in fact, a meeting took place, as you know, of friars coming from almost every jurisdiction of the Order, which brought together friars involved in various fields in which the Order serves the Church and people of today: sanctuaries, parishes, educators, formators, experts in theological disciplines.
Further, in the month of September 2012, the third meeting of Priors, Vicars and Delegates Provincial of the Order will take place, as foreseen by the General Chapter (cf. Acts of the 2007 General Chapter, n. 58b).
These two meetings constitute, in our opinion, a significant occasion for sharing and study on the way to preparing the 2013 General Chapter.
In addition, the Directory Commission, which already met in previous years to produce two texts (the Constitutions and the General Directory), will meet again, beginning in the month of November 2011, to complete all that the 2007 General Chapter decreed in n. 66d.
This letter therefore constitutes the first consultation of all the friars of the Order, so that the 2013 General Chapter might benefit from the contribution of each and every friar of the Order.
The General Council, in this first phase of reflection, asks each friar to respond to the following questions:
1. In your view, what are the two most important themes which the next General Chapter ought to confront?
2. Do you think that the theme of evangelical poverty, indicated by the 2007 General Chapter, has been sufficiently studied, interiorized and concretized?
3. What aspects of our life (at the provincial and general levels) do you think prevent us from fully living our identity as Servants of Mary, making it sometimes seem heavy and hopeless?
4. With our charism as the starting point, how can we contribute to the Church’s appeal for a “New evangelization for passing on the faith”, keeping in mind that this will be the theme of the next synod of bishops in October 2012?
5. For years, the Order has reflected on a “global project of presences”. In addition, there have been legislative attempts to permit decisions that would otherwise be blocked (as, for example, transferring from Chapters to Councils the authority to open and close places). What avenues do you suggest for further increasing collaboration – at all levels – between the jurisdictions of our Order?
6. How can we sustain the realities tied to the General Communities (Curia, “Marianum” Faculty, Monte Senario, the St. Alexis Formation Community), which are a patrimony of the Order and often appreciated by the Church?
The responses can be sent either through traditional post (Secretary of the Order, General Curia OSM, Piazza San Marcello 5 – 00187 Rome, Italy) or by email to the address of the Secretary of the Order (email@example.com), or through fax to the General Curia number: (0039) 06.6792131. Responses may be signed or anonymous.
I also invite reflection in the Conventual Chapter and likewise on the part of the Councils of the various jurisdictions of the Order.
All contributions should arrive before 30 September 2011, to facilitate the successive phases of reflection and preparation for the General Chapter.
On the Order’s website (www.servidimaria.org) you will be able to follow the developments in preparation for our 2013 General Chapter.
May Mary, Queen of Apostles and Mother of her Servants, accompany us in this process of preparation for the General Chapter of 2013, for the good of the Church and the people we serve.
Fra Ángel M. Ruiz Garnica, o.s.m.
Fra Camille M. Jacques, o.s.m.
Secretary of the Order