Family and Youth special focus of SVD General Chapter
By Fr. John Mc Carthy,SVD – PNG Provincial Superior. The 17th General Chapter of the Divine Word missionaries (SVD) took place in Nemi village, just south of Rome between 17th June – 15th July. 140 SVD missionaries from all over the world gathered together with a threefold purpose: to evaluate the work of the Divine Word missionaries; to elect a new Superior General and General Council; and to set the congregational directions for the coming 6 years. The Chapter theme was, ‘Sharing Intercultural Life and Mission’, based on a verse from the book of Revelation: “From every tribe and language and people and nation” (Rev. 5:9).
The first two weeks of the Chapter meeting involved a lot of reporting and sharing on the experiences of the Divine Word missionaries. This was done on zonal level, because of the development of four zones among the Divine Word missionaries: the Africa-Madagascar zone; the Europe zone; the Asia-Pacific zone; and the American zone. There were frequent meetings of the different zones during the General Chapter. During the second week, the Leadership team of the Holy Spirit Sisters and the Adoration Sisters of the Holy Spirit gave some input and encouragement to the SVD delegates. This was much appreciated since our three missionary congregations share a common founder in St. Arnold Janssen and a common vocation to participate in the missionary task of the Church. During these two weeks, the delegates also discussed the proposed ‘congregational directions’ for the coming six years.
The third week of the Chapter began with a day of recollection and prayer in preparation for the election of our new Superior General and General Council. Fr. Heinz Kulueke, SVD, a German confrere who has worked as a missionary for many years in the Philippines, was elected as the new Superior General for the coming six years. His General Council was also elected: Fr. Robert Kisala – Vice-General Superior. He is from the USA and has worked for many years as a missionary in Japan; Fr. Gregory Pinto, from India, is the new Admonitor; Bro. Guy Mazola is from Congo/Africa; Fr. Jose da Silva from Portugal; and Fr. Arlindo Dias, from Brazil.
The fourth week of the Chapter began with great excitement, because on Monday, 9th of July the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, made a private visit to the SVD Centre to greet all the Chapter delegates. He thanked the Divine Word missionaries for their contribution to the missionary task of the Church all over the world. This was followed by the delegates receiving input from representatives of lay groups associated with the SVD missionary work. Also the congregational directions for the coming six years were approved. These pointed to evangelization as the main focus for all our missionary activity, but they also included ecumenical and interreligious dialogue, education and research, promoting a culture of life, reconciliation and peace building, social justice issues, with a special focus on family and youth. These directions also emphasized the necessity for self-reliance in terms of finance and personnel. Formation of local members to continue the mission of Christ as Divine Word missionaries was also emphasized, and each Province is encouraged to explore new approaches and strategies for vocation promotion.
The General Chapter closed on Sunday, 15th July, with a closing Eucharist, led by Fr. Tony Pernia, the out-going SVD Superior General. He praised the positive, joyful atmosphere of the Chapter meeting. There were three confreres representing Papua New Guinea at the General Chapter: Fr. John Mc Carthy, Provincial Superior; Fr. Elias Aiyako – delegate; parish priest of the Holy Spirit Cathedral in Madang; and Bro. Martin Tnines – delegate; from the Melanesian Institute in Goroka. All in all, the General Chapter gave new encouragement to the Divine Word missionaries to continue their missionary work as joyful witnesses of the Gospel throughout the world