World Assembly Reflections – Day #10
Greetings from the CLC World Assembly in Buenos Aires… on this 10th and concluding day.
I am a bit late in writing and sending this reflection (a bit of long one this time!) because of the busyness of the day… our St. Ignatius Feast Day celebrations went well into the evening under our big tent, local music and ABBA music to dance and clap to!). We also had a power outage during dinner until about 11:30. So we were celebrating by candlelight and under the light of the roll away propane heaters. But this in no way darkened our spirits… it actually made it extra special and memorable.
Today we further exercised our delegate responsibilities in voting for our World Exco for the next 5 years… one of the formal responsibilities as a delegate. Each National CLC community voted as one… so there was lots of preparation and deliberation – both in the days leading up to this day, and during the vote itself – between Michelle, Catherine, and myself. It was a long process, but we finished just in time for lunch at 1:00! But that meant 4 hours of voting! I will not get into the details of how each vote was processed for all of the Exco positions, but they did include runoffs if there was not a clear majority. Given our numbers, plus the vote of the present (now past) World Exco, and the number of candiates, each candidate for their positions needed 33 of our votes. It was quite dramatic actually as our votes rounds crept closer to this magic number. As a candidate approached the 33 vote mark on the hoped for final ballot there was a feeling of tension and excitement in the air within the tent amongst us… then upon hitting 33 votes everyone roared in applause. The tallies paused for our excitement to subside. Then the rest of the counting proceeded until all the votes were accounted for and the final results formally declared. It was like 10 New Year’s Eve’s countdown within 4 hours! As each new Exco member was elected, the rest of the new Exco members came to the front of the Assembly to greet and congratulate their new confrere, to the delight of us all. All in all, Michelle, Catherine and I for the Canadian delegation were very happy with the results. I don’t think we would have changed anything. This was the feeling of all the members I believe.
Now you are probably wondering who these new World Exco people are… so I will now tell:)
Our new President is: Dennis Dobbelstein, from Belgium. He won the vote from Ann-Marie Brennan by 44-20. Ann-Marie did not mind at all… she was actually hoping for that result. She desired to keep working more in the background. And Dennis feels so much more comfortable working in public, in a good way. He is a very capable and attentive CLC member, with a wonderful and quick sense of humour.
Our new Vice-President is: Ann-Marie Brennan, from the United States (New Jersey). It was automatic that the candidate for President who did not win that vote would automatically be considered for Vice-President. She won this vote with 45 votes, compared with 7, 5, and 7 votes for the other 3 candidates. Ann-Marie will be wonderful, warm, and capable support for the Exco, especially with considerable experience working on World Exco already. She possesses a very warm leadership style, and is very informed about many of the issues that are important for CLC. Many of you I’m sure would remember Anne-Marie from our last National Assembly in Saint John 4 years ago.
Our new Secretary is Catherine Kinuya Waiyaki, from Kenya. She won with 39 votes, compared with 25 for the other candidate. Catherine was in my small spiritual conversation group during this Assembly. I could see she will make a very capable, thoughtful, attentive and prayerful secretary, and by extension also a consultor for the Exco with all of these traits. She also has a wonderful, but quiet, sense of humour. She is also very much involved in the secondary school in Nairobi, Kenya, that is run by their CLC.
World Exco also has 4 Consultors, and so our new Consultors are: Fernando Vidal, from Spain, with 39 votes… Daphne Ho, from Hong Kong, with 36 votes… Diego Pereia, from Uruguay, with 34 votes… and Najat Sayegh, from Lebanon, with 37 votes. Each of these consultors had to be voted for amongst around 20 candidates from around the world. So these are considerable votes for almost 70 nations to vote for. Perhaps the biggest drama was Najat’s win. She was a candidate for Secretary, which she had been these last 5 years. She kept dropping down as others won the votes for the Secretary position, the 1st Consultor position, the 2nd, and the 3rd. She then won the vote for the 4th Consultor position on the 1st ballot, amongst over 15 candidates. It is not that Najat was the last choice among those who were voted on Exco. It had to do with the Assembly also taking into account where the members came from in the world and what language they represented. First came their personal qualities and gifts of course, all of whom our new Exco members possess in abundance, but also how are CLC World Exco represents all of the diversity of our community throughout the world.
After al of our voting and prolonged applause… we descended upon our dining room for a well deserved lunch.
In the afternoon we gathered in the centre court outside for formal Regional pictures… under a brilliant sun that had hidden itself from us for a few days. This time of picture taking turned out to become a party in itself with everyone taking the opportunity to take selfies with everyone around them. After this longer then expected, but wonderful delay, we assembled back in our big tent to listen to the final draft of our summary report of the Assembly, which we offered further feedback in a Round #2 style of spiritual conversation, and then all roundly affirmed. Everyone will receive this summary of our Assembly in the next days, and which Michelle, Catherine, and I will explore in more detail with our Canadian community in the coming months.
After a final appropriation of our Assembly in the big tent, we then processed to our chapel for our final, and also Ignatius Feast Day Mass… which our World Ecclesial Assistant, Herminio Rico, sj, from Portugal, presided at. It’s funny… of all our World Exco members, he is the one who is simply appointed… by Father General:) Our Feast Day eucharist celebration was moving and festive with wonderful South American music. In conclusion were the thank-you’s and blessings… to our departing World President, Mauricio Lopez, from Mexico, to our new World Exco,to our ESDAQ facilitators during our Assembly – who we prayerfully and discerningly revolved around for the significant part of our Assembly – and especially to our ARUPA hosts – our fellow CLC members from Argentina, Uruguay, and Paraguay – who worked tirelessly before and during the Assembly to prepare for our arrival and host our presence in Buenos Aires… 24 hours a day during the Assembly itself… many taking their personal annual vacation time to do so. Many claps, flowers and tears were showered upon them.
Then we gathered for a festive dinner – the second part of it by candlelight quickly found… then clapped and danced our way into our final night in our big tent… by the light of more candles, our propane heaters, and the light of our wine. The youth group and parishioners of San Miguel were the beat and rhythmic voices we clapped and danced with:) …with some ABBA thrown in the mix when the power came back on:)
A further will of God that we were also most grateful for in the conclusion of our Assembly was the continual returning news to us of our Australian CLC President, Jennifer Gardner. We later found out how fatal her health had been. But with a quick response from the doctors through surgery she was able to recover, and even start walking in her hospital room. Her family has joined and she will be able to join them in her return home. The ARUPA team showed even in this they never failed to be of help… always making sure someone was by her side during her hospitalization. During our final day we received a letter of gratitude from Jennifer, read to all of us, for our prayers and support.
Michelle, Catherine and I have planned to stay in Buenos Aires for a few more days, along with our french Canada CLC President, Andreé Richard. The other French Canadian delegate, the beautifully gentle and wise Vivianne Yaghmour, departed to France for a well deserved visit to a long time friend. I am staying with the Jesuit community downtown. Tomorrow evening we will all go to the ballet! It is such a beautiful city to visit and explore – the Paris of the southern hemisphere… who wouldn’t stay for some more days if they can?
But though we are now tourists for a few days, the gifts, memories and appropriation of our Assembly graces will remain and resonate within us to bring back and share with all of you over the coming months… the grace of the desire to deepen our relation with each other in our CLC communities through communal discernment with each other…. so as to share our gift of Christ-like community with those around us in our lives in more receptive ways, as Jesus’ Parable of the Sower teaches us to be prayerful mindful of in.
- The excitement captured of our new Exco, minus Diego Pereia, who had to depart the Assembly earlier because of work obligations.
- The members of the ESDAQ team who led us through the graces of our CLC Assembly…. in thanksgiving after our final Eucharist… with our departing President Mauricio Lopez in the background.
- Members of the ARUPA team waving to us goodbye as we depart… clutching Canadian flags like bouquets of flowers.
- CLC Australia President, Jennifer Gardner (on the right of the photo), with her fellow Australian delegate. (not taken by me)
- Andreé Richard and Michelle Mahoney, our 2 new CLC Canadian Presidents. (not taken by me)
- Our CLC World Community present to our 2018 World Assembly… symbolically captured by our presented flags. (not taken by me)
- Witnessing our Assembly graces… which we will strive to share and live out. (not taken by me)
Final 2018 CLC World Assembly blessings to each of you… from Buenos Aires, Argentina,
Trevor… your Canadian National Ecclesial Assistant
P.S. Please continue to pray for our new united Canadian Jesuit Province consisting of the former English and French Canadian Province… formally united on the Feast of Saint Ignatius.