We have begun the First Provincial Chapter of the Province of Fatima! During the afternoon of the 26th, the members of the chapter arrived at the Acolhimento e Espiritualidade house of Fatima, where we were received and found everything ready to begin the Chapter.
On the 27th we began at 7:30 a.m. with the prayer of Lauds.
After breakfast the 54 chapter members met in the Chapter Hall to begin our work with a retreat-motivation space. First of all, Fr. Gonzalo Fernández, Vicar General, motivated us to a time of reflection and group work around our expectations in view of the event we were beginning. Words like “participation”, “openness”, “co-responsibility”, “communion”, “choosing”, “applying” and “examining” were proposed as an expression of the attitude we were experiencing before the Chapter.
After a few minutes of rest, Fr. General, President of the Chapter, invited us to consider our identity as Sons of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Making a commented reading of the story of the Annunciation he invited us to consider the special moments of our life in which, like Mary, we say our “fiat” to God, inviting us to keep alive the Marian dimension of our vocation, our capacity to say “let it be done”, and to keep burning the flame of the charism, which is the responsibility of each Claretian.
The celebration of the Eucharist brought the morning to a close.
At 3 p.m., we began the opening session of the Chapter, which, as required, dealt mostly with organizational matters.
We begin with the sequence “Veni Creator Spíritus” and a few words of welcome from the Provincial Superior, P. Carlos Candeias (in which he welcomed us and invited us to have attitudes of trust and openness) and Fr. General, who encouraged us to have the disposition that makes possible to be transformed by the Gospel, of which we are witnesses and messengers.
Fr. Provincial Secretary read out the chapter rules contained in the Constitutions and the Directory. Fr. General then presented the proposal to have a facilitator, in line with experiences already common to other institutes. He pointed out the character and function of the facilitator, for which he proposed Fr. Gonzalo Fernández, and asked the Chapter for its approval. The proposal was approved with an overwhelming majority.
We then proceeded to the election of the Chapter Secretary, a service which fell to Fr. Fermín Francisco Rodríguez López, and of the members of the Central Commission, for which Frs. Paul Smyth, Vitor Pinto and Jorge R. Sánchez Palacios were elected. The President also proposed a vote to appoint two moderators to help him in the organization and conduct of the chapter sessions. The ballots were collected and will be duly counted. The result will be communicated to the Chapter Assembly in the morning session.
Fr. Provincial addressed the Assembly recalling the steps taken in the announcement, convocation and preparation of everything necessary for the celebration of the Chapter, highlighting the participation of the communities in a proposed reflection on the processes of transformation and the apostolic priorities of the Plan of Life and Mission of our Province.
Finally, the Provincial Government proposed to the Chapter the composition of the various commissions that will be responsible for different tasks during these days: communication, animation, liturgy and revision of the minutes.
Once this organizational phase was concluded, Fr. Provincial Secretary presented the Report of the Government, highlighting the most outstanding points of the same, and ending his speech with an acknowledgement to the Provincial Government for the service rendered.
The prayer of Vespers closed this first day.