The 13th day of the General Chapter was a special day. It was the birthday of our new Superior General, Abzalón Alvarado Tovar – born 20 September 1970.
The meditation of the day challenged us to be prophets in our world today. It was a reflection based on a combination of the Reading from the Book of Numbers “Would that all the Lord’s people were prophets, and that the Lord would put his spirit on them!” (11:24-30) and the words of Pope Francis to us at our audience on Saturday morning. Keep your gaze fixed on Jesus Christ and learn from him how to love with a truly human heart, to care for the lost and hurting members of his flock, to work for justice and show solidarity with the weak and the poor. Learn from him to give hope and dignity to the destitute, and to go forth to all those places where people are in need of acceptance and assistance. This is the first Gospel that the Church entrusts to you by sending you out as missionaries to the world: to show by your lives and by your works the passionate and tender love of God for the little ones, the underprivileged, the vulnerable and those whom our world has discarded.
One of the major tasks of the Chapter on this 13th day was the approval of the members of the General Council proposed by the Superior General. Abzalón outlined his criteria for those he invited to be on his Council. He has asked people who are a clear witness to living the MSC life and commitment to the mission, who have an openness, capacities and personal abilities for this mission carrying it into the future, and who represent the three areas of the Congregation in the world. Apia (Asia, Oceanía, Africa): 2 members, PEC (Europa): 1 member, and CA-MSC (América): 1 member. He also mentioned the need to have people from different generations, combining the wisdom of the elders with the enthusiasm of the youth. The names he proposed were: André Claessen, from the Belgium Province, Christopher Chaplin, from the Australian Province, Humberto Henrique da Silva, from the Province of Rio de Janeiro, Paulus Laurentius Pitoy, from the Indonesian Province.
After a time of prayer and discernment, the Chapter came back to vote for each of the nominees. Each were elected and accepted when invited by the Superior General. They were all accepted with generous applause by the Chapter.
Here is a little biography of each:
André Claessens was born in Belgium in 1950, made his profession as an MSC in 1970 and was ordained in 1977. He has worked in missions in the French-speaking areas of Africa and was for a time the Executive Secretary of the Africa Europe Faith and Justice Network. He has also been Provincial of the Belgian Province.
Christopher Chaplin was born in Australia in 1961, professed as an MSC in 1984 and ordained in 1988. Chris worked in Parishes in Australia and in formation in the Pacific Union. He has also been the Director of St Mary’s Towers Retreat Centre and worked extensively in retreat work and spiritual direction. At various times, he has lived the eremitical life.
Humberto Henrique da Silva was born in Brazil in 1980, professed as an MSC in 2004 and ordained in 2008. During his time in ministry Humberto has worked in both Parishes and in formation. He is presently the Vice Provincial of the Rio De Janeiro Province.
Paulinus Laurentius Pitoy was born in Indonesia in 1959, professed as a MSC in 1982 and ordained in 1987. Paulinus has spent most of his ministry in formation and as a lecturer both in the minor and major seminaries. He has recently been the Rector of the seminary in Kakaskasen.
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