General Chapter of the Missionaries of Mariannhill is currently underway in Rome.
Fr. Brian Nonde CMM – Rome.
The Chapter in Rome at the Mariannhill Generalate has 36 capitulars and assistants from Colombia, Austria, East Africa, Germany, South Africa (Mariannhill and Mthatha), Spain, Switzerland, Canada, Netherlands, Zambia, Zimbabwe, United States of America and Papua New Guinea. The capitulars will elect their general government, which includes a new Superior General and four councillors. They will also use the period to share their experiences as they discern their future path through the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
Discerning the future
During the opening of the Chapter, the Acting Superior General, Fr. Michael Maβ, led the capitulars from the chapel to the Chapter Hall. The capitulars held flags from different countries where the Missionaries of Mariannhill work as they processed to the Chapter Hall. Fr. Michael carried the lit candle, which is now in the Chapter Hall. The candle in the Chapter Hall is a sign that Jesus Christ, the light of the world, is among them in their discernment process for the future of the Congregation.
At 32, Fr. Innocent Shava, originally from Zimbabwe, is the youngest capitular at the Chapter where he is representing the unit of Spain. Fr. Franz Lenssen of the Netherlands, at 92 years, is a seasoned Maiannhill Missionary who has worked at the Mariannhill Generalate and was a missionary in Papua New Guinea for many years. The average age of all the capitulars is 50.
The theme of the Chapter, Solidarity: Called to be of one mind and one purpose, echoes the words of Pope Francis to religious institutes and the Church as a whole. It is a call for solidarity within religious communities and in the Church. During the Vespers at the opening ceremonies, the acting General Superior Fr. Michael Maβ said, “the Chapter is a time for us to discern what the Holy Spirit is saying for the good of the Congregation and the Church.”
Fruit of the Spirit
On the second day of the Chapter, Archbishop Jose Rodriguez Carballo OFM, Secretary of the Dicastery for institutes of consecrated life and societies of apostolic life, in his homily, challenged the Capitulars to have love for one another, love for the Church and love for the poor -just like Christ did. “So that your next leadership and plans may not be the fruit of a plot but of the Holy Spirit, which follows the supreme rule that is the Gospel,” he said.
Mariannhill priest, Fr. Stuart Vukayi, originally from Zimbabwe and now missioned in Germany, led the Day of Recollection. The facilitators of the Chapter are Fr. Yago Abeledo of the Society of the Missionaries of Africa and Fr. Gianfrancesco Sisto of the Order of the Franciscan Friar Minor. Bishop Thulani Victor Mbuyisa, Superior General of the Mariannhill till his appointment as Bishop of Kokstad Diocese in South Africa on 6 April 2022, is attending the Chapter as an observer. The Chapter is expected to end on 23 October 2022 with a sense of renewed hope for the future.