Dear Brothers and Sisters.
The moment of the process we have been preparing for has arrived. But the most wonderful is that we can be together as brothers and sisters, members of the Chevalier Family.
How good it is to see brothers and sisters gathered and even better to see brothers and sisters talking to each other, listening to each other, and listening to the Spirit so that together we can face the future as it emerges.
The first reading and today’s Gospel invite us to live in forgiveness and not to root our lives in resentment and revenge. Peter now approaches Jesus with a more practical and concrete approach that allows them, at least, to solve the problems that arise between them: suspicions, envy, confrontations, and conflicts.
Jesus’ answer requires us to be convinced that there are no limits to forgiveness: “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven“. There is no point in counting forgiveness. Whoever starts counting how many times he/she forgives his brother goes down an absurd path that ruins the Spirit that must reign among those who follow Jesus.
In the face of a culture of vengeance without limits, Jesus proposes forgiveness without limits. We urgently need witnesses of Jesus who proclaim His Gospel with firm words and spread His peace with humble hearts—believers who live by forgiving and healing this unhealthy obstinacy of rivalries and revenge that has penetrated His Church.
Based on this evangelical invitation, which is to love ALL without measure and from our Spirituality of the Heart, during these six years we have tried,
- To develop a shared leadership according to the Spirituality of the Heart.
- To update the structures of our Society to better respond to the needs of our mission in a changing world.
- Promote and accompany congregational solidarity and the equitable sharing of the means of our Congregation, thus supporting the first steps of what will become the MSC Foundation.
- To commit ourselves to the promotion of Safeguarding Culture and integrity in ministry.
- Renew our MSC Spirit, seeking to transform clericalist and mediocre mentalities and attitudes towards commitment to JPIC and solidarity with those excluded and marginalized, such as refugees, migrants, and other areas of exclusion.
In commending our Chapter to a Mayan indigenous leader from Guatemala, he wrote me the fruit of his contemplation and prayer, and I share it with you today because, through the reflection of this Mayan leader, I feel that the Spirit is inviting us to become aware:
The Mayan indigenous leader said to me:
- There are many unresolved problems and difficulties trampling on the congregational journey.
- The health of our communities, in terms of community and generational relationships, is suffering from imbalances.
- The spirituality that characterizes us as a community needs to revitalize its roots from its originality.
- The Chapter is a time to allow ourselves to be shaken up so that new air can enter.
- As the Pope said in Portugal, we must deepen our relationships with ALL.
- We are called to weave new strategies of fraternal dialogue, and the quality of community life depends on the quality of our conversations.
- We are called to discern and seek remedies to heal unhealthy situations and solutions to the problems that distance us from the kingdom of God.
Brothers and Sisters, the theme of this Chapter is “Did not our hearts burn within us, as we walked along together“. It reminds us that this journey started in 1854 when Fr Chevalier began to feel his heart burning for the mission. It has continued to burn for 168 years. In the last six years, this journey has flowed in synodality and interconnectedness through the General Conferences of 2019 and 2021, the accompaniments carried out, the provincial activities and meetings, as well as the international encounters undertook.
Let’s make this time an opportunity for deep listening, freedom, and courage to believe in the process, trust the guidance of our facilitators, and, thus, build together an actual MSC ecosystem.
May Our Lady of the Sacred Heart help us so that we may create participative processes and deep and empathetic conversations during these three weeks of the Chapter Assembly.
Welcome to all, and we, as a result of this, declare the opening of our 26th General Chapter.