Day 4, June 30 — Back to Hogwarts
We returned to Cortelyou Commons, our regular meeting space, this morning. Thanks to Fr. Dennis Holtschneider and DePaul, the problem with the generator was fixed during the night. Hogwarts, you ask? Yesterday, when saying where we would be meeting, a confrere noted that we were not going back to “the Harry Potter building.” Although it bears a resemblance, I must say that the paintings of the former DePaul presidents do not speak. [Ed. – Hogwarts is the fictional British school from the Harry Potter novels.]
After prayer, we watched a video about the life of a seminarian in Madagascar. An interesting note is that videos of young Vincentians will be shown throughout the assembly, each saying what are their dreams for the Congregation and the General Assembly. We heard the other day from two Polish seminarians, Daniel Frac and Piotr Mackowiak.
We continued with some brief announcements and approval of the minutes, then heard from Joaquin Gonzalez from the Central Commission, who gave an update on the general schedule and agenda. Joe Geders, the treasurer general, then spoke about the finances and investments of the Congregation. Of particular note are our investments in socially responsible and renewable energy companies (“social impact investments”). He also called on the community to train and educate seminarians and confreres in good financial management.
After a short coffee break, Joe Geders made a second presentation about the resources of the Congregation and solidarity. In his sobering address, he noted that after the current round of reconfiguration, 60 percent of provinces will need financial assistance, and our current system of economic solidarity is not sustainable. He offered an image of a potluck dinner — where all provinces bring something to the table and all receive. How do we help one another? How do we continue our mission with the resources that are available? After the presentation, there were questions and comments from the floor before stopping for lunch.
In the afternoon, group meetings were held with each conference of visitors (groups by region) to discuss solidarity in greater depth. Returning to the full assembly, each conference gave a report. They all spoke about the need to work together better, to collaborate on the mission and support each other. and to clarify what we mean by solidarity. The challenge is one of a conversion of attitudes and structures within the Congregation to become more truly one international community in service to people in poverty. It was a good and direct conversation on the floor of the assembly and we hope that it helps the delegates forge ahead. The assembly closed the day with evening prayer. Tomorrow are more reports on mission and the Vincentian Family, as well as a straw ballot for the election of the Superior General.
Jeremy Dixon, cm