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GC27: Ringside Views & News - 20: A NEW CAPTAIN TAKES OVER! The Chapter Concludes

By Fr. Jose Parappully, SDB
The concluding Eucharist and the Aarati by the Indian reps
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Kolkata, Apr. 13. .    ROME: The 27th General Chapter concluded this morning (12 April)with  Ángel Fernández Artime taking over as Captain of the Congregation. An era has passed over into history and another is beginning!
The day began with the last common Eucharist, presided over by Fr.  Ángel flanked by Pascual Chavez and Francesco Cereda and surrounded by the members of new and old General Council.

The Indian Contribution to the Eucharist was a Bhajan - ''Saranam'' sung by Fr. LB Anthony, Fr. Nirmol Gomes and others  and an ''aarathi'' at the Doxology led by Fr. Thomas Koonan.

In his homily  Ángel emphasized the need for Salesians to be holy, the theme that Pascual Chavez had focused on in his very first letter after being elected Rector Major 12 years ago.

Our task, he said, is to make ''our local and provincial communities real 'sanctuaries' filled with His (God's) presence: the life of holiness shared with the educative and pastoral community...''

The concluding session at 10.00 am began with the recitation of the  Angelus (for the very first time during this Chapter!).

Fr.  Ángel then thanked all those who had contributed in some way to the running of the Chapter. The last person he thanked (because he wanted that to be special) was Francesco Cereda, now his Vicar, who as Moderator had successfully facilitated the Chapter.

Fr.  Ángel then gave the concluding talk of the Chapter that he entitled ''GC27: An Opportunity for Belonging to God, the Confreres, the Young'' and placed at its head Jn. 15, 5-8.

In this final talk Fr.  Ángel summarized the work of the Chapter and outlined the priorities for the next six years and the processed to be followed to realize the goals.

Primacy to God in our life: ''It is in this transcendent dimension, in ensuring that all of our life is caught up in God's storyline and that He has pre-eminence in our lives, that we find our strength...''

A fraternity that is irresistibly prophetic: ''we run a certain risk of sacrificing the community, our fellowship and at times even our communion, for the sake of work, activity, including sheer activism.''

Work and Temperance: ''May the poverty of Don Bosco and Mama Margaret inspire each Salesian and each community to an essential and austere life, one that is close to the poor, transparent, responsible in managing goods.'' (Pope Francis in his address to the GC Members)

Servants of the young: ''how can we remain at peace when in our suburb, area, city there are poverty-stricken young people, loneliness, family violence, aggression by those who have power over them...? We are called to give them a voice in circumstances where they have none, called to offer them friendship, help, acceptance, the presence of an adult who likes them,''

Future Directions

Knowledge, Study and assimilation of GC 27: Dedicate at least first three years to this.

Depth of Interior Life: Become witnesses to the God of Love: Each community to consider how it can give God the first place.

Care for individuals in the community: Each Province to carry out a study to consolidate communities, with the willingness to close down existing works if need be.

Priority in ministry to young who are poorest, the least, the most excluded: give the best confreres of the province for this ministry; each province to take another look at where we are, where we must remain, where we should go and where we can leave.

Lay participation in a shared mission: each Province in the first three years after GC27 makes the programme for shared mission between SDBs and lay people.

Fr.  Ángel concluded by expressing thanks on behalf of the entire Salesian Family to Fr. Pascual Chavez and Fr. Bregolin and the General Councillors who have completed their given terms.

Fr. Pascual, he said, has led our Congregation these past 12 years ''surely and certainly, like a good captain who knows how to navigate despite fog and nightfall each evening.'' He thanked him ''for being a Father for all the Salesian Family, an enthusiastic Successor of Don Bosco for young people all over the world... for your rich, solid magisterium, ... for bringing home the ship of the Congregation over this long twelve year journey.''

Now Fr Ángel is the Captain of the ship. He has clearly chartered the course. We have to wait and see how he navigates the choppy waters and how much the communities and provinces take to heart what he has so clearly delineated as priorities and challenges.

But one thing is clear: Fr. Ángel has the good will and support of the whole Salesian Family, giving him wind and power as he navigates the ship.

Fr. Jose Parappully, SDB

Editor's Note:
BIS and its readers wish to thank Fr. Jose Parappully, SDB for having given us ringside views and news of the GC27 in 20 installments during the past 50 days, alternating between being incisive, descriptive, synthetic, curious, celebrating and sometimes also punchy! Thank you, Fr. Jose!

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