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Lima, Peru, has been chosen as the location for the month-long Congregation Chapter to be held in March 2020.
The guiding scripture text that has been chosen by the Chapter Planning Group is Luke 8: 22-25 in which Jesus calms the storm
One day Jesus said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side of the lake.” So they got into a boat and set out. As they sailed, he fell asleep. A squall came down on the lake, so that the boat was being swamped, and they were in great danger. The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Master, Master, we’re going to drown!” He got up and rebuked the wind and the raging waters; the storm subsided, and all was calm. “Where is your faith?” he asked his disciples. In fear and amazement they asked one another, “Who is this? He commands even the winds and the water, and they obey him.”
Accompanying this text is the image by Fr. Sieger Köder
As we continue to discern your will and to co-create our future as Religious Brothers,
we pray that we be free from all self-interest and fear.
Open us to your ever-present creative Spirit
which leads us to see your love in all things and all people.
Renew in us the charism of our Founder, Blessed Edmund Rice
who saw Christ present and appealing to him in the poor.
Help us to engage in enriching conversation with our Brothers and all people
as we seek to deepen our response to the invitation of Jesus
to see everything with the eyes of faith,
to do nothing but with a view to You
and to ascribe all to You.
May the Brothers who gather in Chapter
be faithful to our deepest aspirations
and at this time of change and challenge, give us the courage to say
‘The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away: Blessed be the name of the Lord’.
01.10.2018 Background Videos and Reading Materials
The following videos and articles may be useful in coming to understand the language and processes being proposed:
31.10.2018 Generative Conversations
In a letter to all Brothers on October 31st, 2018 the CLT wrote:
"It is the CLG’s belief that the flame of our brotherhood will be reignited only if we engage more with one another in intimate, honest conversations around questions and issues significant to our lives.
From our experience, we believe that, as Brothers, we must make time and opportunity to sit down and talk with one another from the heart. If we are going to co-create a future, the CLG considers it is vital that we engage with one another in a process that is called “Generative Conversations".
... The choice of a Generative Conversations approach was made at the CLG meeting when we saw anew that any sharing not from our hearts would not bring about the transformation we desire. We sense a strong call from the Spirit to speak deeply to each other in this period of our Congregation history.
... Generative conversations are probably not as simple as they sound. We on the CLT have been working at them ourselves, and have found it helpful to have the assistance of a facilitator. That is something for your consideration.
... In addition, you will receive from your local Leadership Team guidelines to assist in understanding and engaging in generative conversations with one another in community and in clusters, wherever practicable. This has already happened in some Provinces. This conversation could include the involvement of women and men who are associates and supporters of the Brothers in various parts of the Congregation.
... Essential to the success of generative conversations is a readiness to speak the truth in love to one another, mindful that what we each see as truth might be different, based on our personality, perception and life experience.
... Similarly, it is important to create safe spaces, in which participants know that what they say will be listened to, respected and treated with confidentiality. The sharing of what is personal is often risky, because it exposes our vulnerabilities. It is likewise important to give full attention to each speaker in a group, mindful that feelings are often communicated with non-verbal gestures and reactions. These, too, need our attention and response."
In a further letter on December 13th, 2018, the CLT wrote:
We are aware of the various efforts being made across the Congregation to put in place structures which will allow groups of Brothers to gather on a regular basis over the next year or so. We have thanked leadership teams for the energy they have put into making this possible across the Congregation.
...We place great value on ensuring that each of you has the freedom to bring to the surface, for deep and rich conversation, matters of significance to you. We want every Brother to be aware that he is being personally invited to participate in these conversations. We are convinced that in these groups, as the level of trust grows, we will be more open to sharing from the heart our personal lived experiences, our joys and sorrows, our hopes and challenges. Then, together, we can begin to look towards our shared future.
...An important aspect of Generative Conversations is that of ‘harvesting’. By this is meant the gathering of the experiences shared, the wisdom that is shared, the insights that are revealed and the issues that emerge. This is not a matter of reporting on matters hared in the confidential intimacy of the small groups. Rather it is the identifying of what is burning within us, for good or ill, and that we would do well to address in the process of co-creating our Brotherhood into the future. We believe it is important for you to know that what you raise for conversation is not lost. It feeds into the bigger picture of where we are as a body and where we need to go.
The Oceania Province Newsletter said the following on February 1st, 2019:
Generative Listening is foundational to authentic dialogue. Such listening does not come naturally. It is an art that requires practice and specific disposition, so that both speaker and listener connect. Generative Listening enables a level of connection, between the one who speaks and the one who listens, that is truly generative, that is, it creates new possibilities for action that neither parties have thought of or even expected before the conversation.
The Seven Principles for Generative Listening
- Slowing down and noticing more of what is present. Letting go of recent and future events in order to be fully present in the here and now. Generative Listening calls for full attention and engagement and not to be distracted by other forms of communication such as phone messages and emails. Good facilitation allows for a period of time for participants to slow down and enter a reflective space.
- Listening with all my senses and not just with my ears. Listening is the source of wise and profound spoken words.
- Listening to the words and images chosen by the speaker. Speaking is like painting with words. The chosen images / words of the speaker give added insight to the speaker’s intention.
- Listening and noticing the emotions conveyed by the person who is talking.
- Suspending judgement is probably the most difficult of the seven principles to embrace for Generative Listening.
- Noticing what I don’t understand or what trigger questions are raised for me rather than what I don’t like about what I am hearing. It may be helpful to write down such questions rather than interrupting the speaker.
- What do I feel as I listen to what is being said and why? It is important to connect with my own feelings as I am listening, as feelings are a filter to what is being said and affect interpretation and response.
11.02.2019 Official Announcement of the Congregation Chapter
In a letter to the Congregation today, Br. Hugh O'Neill officially announced the Congregation Chapter to be held in Lima, Peru, during the month of March, 2020. Included in the letter was thee following:
I have seen the sun break through
to illuminate a small field
for a while, and gone my way
and forgotten it. But that was the pearl
of great price, the one field that had
treasure in it. I realise now
that I must give all that I have
to possess it. Life is not hurrying
on to a receding future, nor hankering after
an imagined past. It is the turning
aside like Moses to the miracle
of the lit bush, to a brightness
that seemed as transitory as your youth
once, but is the eternity that awaits you.
The Bright Field, R S Thomas
... Today, as the Church celebrates the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes, we are reminded that Mary is a model of faith for us. When she encountered the divine presence asking her to be completely open to the Spirit in her life, she said “yes.” Like Mary, by saying “yes” to a call to religious life, we have committed our lives to bearing witness to the divine presence in our world and in the hearts of people. Is this our pearl of great price, our own bright field?
... Pope Francis has stated the world is in need of brotherhood and sisterhood. Listening to each other in a deeper way and speaking honestly about our passions, dreams, and how we can be brothers together will help us determine how best to live the gospel values we profess. This will be our framework for moving forward and the ongoing focus will be on our conversations together. We need to remain open to wherever the Spirit draws us and the conversations will need to continue well beyond the Chapter.
... In this light, I formally announce the Thirty-Second Congregation Chapter to be held in Lima, Peru, from the 1st to the 31st of March, 2020.
... Brothers, in your discernment process for electing delegates from your area of the Congregation to the 2020 Congregation Chapter, you are encouraged to look for individuals who have leadership skills and the energy to continue listening and working with what is surfacing from the generative conversations across the Congregation. Look for those who can continue to engage the Brothers in creating our way forward together.
... "The time is now! The place is here! You are the people!" This line from the 2008 Congregation Chapter is a good reminder for us. If we want a future together as Brothers, then each one of us needs to commit our energy and time to making it a reality. The treasure in the field is worth any cost. May we continue to be drawn by Blessed Edmund’s charism of presence, compassion, and liberation. And may Jesus truly live in our hearts.