Rome, the eternal city, in the month of September, gives a good opportunity to stroll through its narrow streets, amidst archaeological remains, to stop for an espresso, a pizza or an ice cream... And we did it, but the purpose of our stay in Rome was actually not tourism, but to participate in the meeting of the "new" superiors of the congregation, some of whom, as a result of the covid, were not so new in their job. We were eighteen confreres from the four corners of the world, all major superiors. The congregation works in 60 countries, therefore about a third of the countries were represented. We were welcomed by our Superior General, Fr.Alain Mayama, his seven concillors and the confreres who work at our general house, in all about fifteen confreres at the service of the 2800 members of the congregation. The common languages were English, French and Portuguese, even if English has been gaining influence recently.
Meeting together is first of all a time of fraternity, the superiors are in principle already experienced confreres who have good human qualities, a good spirit of service and a sense of perseverance. They obviously have their limitations and we know that living in community for ten days is much lighter than living together in our communities of origin for ten years or more... but this Spiritan fraternity is important and meaningful. Superiors often carry a lot of responsibility, ideally with their close collaborators, but often also in a certain solitude. It is good to be together, to share our experiences and to hear that despite all the difficulties, the congregation is happy to be able to count on us!
We live in a fragile world, where difficulties are not lacking. We have to find the finances to keep our respective missions alive, some Spiritan communities are faced with insecurity or isolation. There is also the challenge of living together, the temptation being great for missionaries to follow their own path. Many confreres are in so-called "irregular" situations, living far from any community and not concerned with the community life inherent in religious life. There are those who find it difficult to find a mission that makes them responsible, those who are not honest about their celibacy or the management of money. There are risks of emotional, sexual or power abuse. Being a superior requires mobilizing confreres in projects that are worthy of our call: having a deep spiritual life, being committed to the poor, respecting and dialoguing with people who do not have the same religion as us. There is also the administrative aspect and the orientations of the Congregation (the General or Provincial Chapters) to put into practice.
To be a good superior, one must have patience, know how to collaborate with one's peers, accept imperfection in oneself and in the lives of one's colleagues, spend a lot of time writing letters, making phone calls, organizing private meetings and work meetings, persevere in one's mission and with all this find joy in what one does. We were reminded to not work alone, but to work together with our council team, our bursar, our secretary, laypeople,… One can be an excellent superior, an average superior or a poor superior. The grace that is given is that of being able to grow by giving oneself and to put one's trust in God much more than in one's personal qualities. And when something fails (a relationship with a confrere, a lasting problem without solution, fatigue and a certain loneliness), we have the advantage of being able to offer all this for the love of the Cross of Christ.
What impressed us during these ten days at the Generalate was to see the good example of the team of our generalate. They coming from all horizons, they are at different stages of life (the youngest is 50 years old, the oldest 67 years old...). If each one of them is there, it is not for his own pleasure but above all to serve the congregation. One of the counselors said in his homily, "We must find God in the mundanity of everyday life”. This is very true. Thank you to all those who assume responsibilities in the congregation. May we find our joy in what we do for the good of all.