Chapter 2014 in Emmaus

Following on from the Congregation Chapter in Nairobi in March 144 delegates gathered in Emmaus from 6th to 9th August to reflect on and discuss the eight calls of the Chapter as outlined in the document Drawn by Mystery Destined for Life. Among the delegates were 8 invited guests from the Edmund Rice Network.

The delegates represented the various communities of the European Province and the Edmund Rice Network. Accommodation was provided for the delegates in Emmaus and in the nearby Bewley’s Airport Hotel. The purpose of the gathering was to enable the Christian Brothers of the European Province to continue to unite to seek divine guidance in charting their future in light of the 31st Congregational Chapter.

The process involved the brothers in reflection,engaging with the calls of the Congregational Chapter and together to seek ways of charting their future personally, in community and as Province.

Chapter 2014 called all brothers to give their full energy and commitment to the 8 calls of the Chapter :

  • to engage with one another in personal and communal reflection on the Jesus and Edmund stories, in light of the evolving universe story
  • to build joyful communities characterised by intimacy, compassion and love
  • to live a simple and shared lifestyle with accountability, which calls us to a radical shift from our comfortable way of living.
  • to be in right relationship with each other, with people made poor and with the whole Earth community.
  • to engage in advocacy with the voiceless, the marginalised and all that are oppressed.
  • to work collaboratively with the church and with others, valuing cultural and religious diversity and interconnectedness.
  • to welcome as companions all inspired by the charism of Edmund.
  • to seek and welcome new members to the vowed life as Christian Brothers.

Each day began with a quiet time for prayer and personal reflection. The delegates staying in Bewleys joined us for breakfast. The work of the day started at 09.30 and continued until 18.00 when we had a delicious evening meal.  The delegates were divided into groups and during the formal sessions each of the Chapter calls was discussed and reflected on. Our reflections were based around how each pèrson could respond to the call as an individual, as a community and at province level.

While youth was not on the side of the delegates each of the calls was given serious thought and reflection and the brothers applied themselves seriously in responding to the Chapter calls. One could not help noticing a sense of battle weariness too. Sometimes it was a question of what more can I give or sacrifice….if only I was 30 years younger! Personally I was delighted at the recognition given to the Edmund Rice Network and to all those inspired by the charism of Edmund Rice who are now welcomed as companions. The Chapter document … Drawn by Mystery, Destined for Life also outlined the vision of the ERN representatives who attended the Chapter in Nairobi.

It was a privelege to be invited to this part of the Chapter and to be given the opportunity to share and reflect with the brothers. It was great to renew frienships and to meet former teachers and friends. For me it was great to re-connect with former teachers such as Con Hurley, Pat Madigan, Michael Kavanagh, John Ledwidge, John J. Linnane , Plunket Nolan and Pat Hegarty. There were a few contemporaries of my own such as Declan Power, Donal Healy, Greg Bowe, Denis Vaughan. Joe Tynan, Tom Costello and Dick Fields were there from Timiri as was I. It was great to meet brothers who are currently working abroad such as Noel Bradshaw, Tony Twomey, Paddy Payne and Ger O Connell.

The whole atmosphere was one of welcome and friendship with a good dose of hard work too. Thanks to the staff of Emmaus for their welcome, hospitality and the delicious and nourishing food.

What next?   This is the great question for the brothers themselves and for all those involved in the Edmund Rice Network including Timiri. How can we meet the challenges of the Chapter Calls in our own lives, culture and contexts? Who will continue these challenges into the future and what role will Timiri and the wider Edmund Rice Network play?