In a manner that could be called Setting the (economic) table. Fr. Joe Geders presented the economic realities faced by the International Congregation.

From his notes for the slides…

At the request of the preparatory commission, I have prepared this presentation of some facts and reflections about the resources of the international congregation.  It builds upon a presentation I made at the Visitors’ meeting in 2013.  It is my fervent hope that it will not only provoke discussion, but call this assembly to meaningful action.

At the 2013 Visitors’ Meeting, I put the provinces of the international congregation into 2 categories.  I do this to acknowledge the economic reality that exists among the provinces today.  Simply put, we have provinces that are self-sustaining and provinces in need of external economic support.

Provinces not able to sustain themselves without economic assistance from external sources are eligible for the annual Mission Fund Distribution.  While monetary assistance from the Mission Fund is direct.  These provinces also receive indirect support.  For example, they pay only about half of what self-sustaining provinces pay to the annual assessment (or tax) of the provinces to the General Curia.  They pay only about half of what self-sustaining provinces pay for meetings and assemblies.

In order for some provinces to pay less, it is necessary for other provinces to pay more. Therefore, self-sustaining provinces contribute to these provinces.

At the time of the 2013 Visitors’ Meeting, there were slightly greater number of self-sustaining provinces than not self-sustaining.

Because many of the self-sustaining provinces are in decline, a number have been reconfigured.  Additionally, several new provinces have been erected from former regions and these have been placed on the Mission Distribution.

Currently, I would describe our model of economic solidarity as basically a one-way flow of money from self-sustaining to provinces in need.

*But going forward, as there are fewer self-sustaining provinces, less financial support will be available from them.

Economic forecasts tell us to expect less growth and therefore, less income from investments.

This could be compounded by inflation as any income received will buy much less than before.

An economic system is simply the way a society distributes scarce resources and apportions goods and services.

*Our constitutions set a direction based on the Gospel:  Those who have should share with those who don’t.

However, as an international congregation, perhaps this does not sufficiently challenge both sides of this equation.

I have always liked the image of the common table.  It is Eucharistic and recalls the table fellowship of Jesus.  May I suggest that we apply this to the challenge we face.

*If you agree with me that one-way sharing cannot be sustained, perhaps you can imagine with me the common table of the little company of Saint Vincent.

I believe that every province has something to bring to this table.  We are a congregation greatly blessed by the Lord.  We can share more than money. I believe that provinces always benefit from their exchange with one another.

It is certainly easy to imagine the lively discussions that followed.