On Monday morning, November 8, the General Chapter of the Brothers CMM was officially opened with a Eucharistic Celebration, presided over by Father Marijn van de Laar.
In the general chapter are now 23 brothers and one associated member present from 4 continents. Unfortunately 4 brothers were unable to meet the requirements of a visa and covid-vaccinations in time; they were not able to travel to the Netherlands in time. Covid-19 dictates the setting to some extend: the opening mass was held without all brothers singing; the brothers keep as much distance as possible; they wear protective masks; and have themselves tested regularly. Nevertheless, the general chapter started in a festive setting and in an atmosphere of brotherhood.
The first day the chapter members started with a focus on the identity of the brothers and on the element of Mission in their lives. The second and third day is dedicated to working on the development of a Mission Statement.
In his opening speech Brother Lawrence looked back on the past board period. He mentioned the names of the brothers who had passed away during this period. “We are grateful for their example of brotherhood and service and we will remember their names with warm feelings and respect.” He also mentioned the special themes that came up in recent years: the Year of Consecrated Life (2014-2015), the Year of Mercy (2016), the celebration of 400 years of Vincentian charism (2017), the centenary of Brother Andreas (2017) and the 175th anniversary year of the Congregation (2018-2019).
He ended his opening address with a brief reflection on the Chapter motto, Called to be merciful brothers, courageous and joyful in today’s world. In it he said, among other things: “We are called to be merciful brothers. We receive our vocation; it is God who invites us to be a merciful brother. We do not become merciful brothers on our own merits, not even because we decide to do so. Our vocation is not a personal achievement, it is an invitation we receive from and through others.
The aim of the Chapter is to refresh together our vision on our mission, not by just looking at the past and the present, but also by reflecting together on the signs of the times and the needs of the world, the world of today and tomorrow.”
The Congregation has a mission to fulfill in today’s world, Brother Lawrence emphasized. So when the Chapter members reflect on policy and mission, they will have to look outwards, to the world of today and its needs, and to the world of tomorrow. “May the discussions in the General Chapter reflect an openness to the world and an openness to the future.”
pictures: Nelleke Verstijnen