World Assembly Reflections – Day #9

July 30th

On this second to last day of our Assembly – Day #9 – we have come to the administrative business that we are also assembled for. In many ways it was quite an exciting day, filled with drama, expectations, hopes, disappointments… as well as shear tedium. We were sitting all day deliberating in the big white tent… only allowed out for coffee breaks, lunch and Mass. But this being said it was actually one of the quickest days. From early morning to nightfall we sat deliberating, but it seemed like a few short hours… and Michelle, Catherine and I reacquainted ourselves with each other once again by sitting together as a National delegation because we vote as one delegation… and we continue to like each other’s company too:)

I will not go into the details of what we voted on today, but in general today was a day devoted to voting on an amendment to a General Norm, 3 revisions of our General Principles, and upon the World CLC budget for the next 5 years (until the next World Assembly). We also spent time on reading and providing input on the summary of our graces from our Assembly so far, as it was composed by the ‘writers’ of our Assembly. It doesn’t sound like much, but with over 70 Nationals voting amongst over 200 people, with some of the votes that require a 2/3 majority (GP’s), with input from the floor before voting, it makes for a full day.

With the World Executive Secretary, Alwin Macalalad facilitating this voting time (an often challenging task at times given all the input desired from the floor before the actual votes), the amendment to one of our General Norms passed by 2/3’s… a Norm pertaining to the makeup of the World Exco. It took a fair bit of clarification from Exco on what exactly we were voting upon, and the consequences of our vote, but the 2/3’s was attained. Then there were 3 proposed revisions to our General Principles, that also required the 2/3’s to pass. With surprise and disappointment… none or these 3 proposed revisions passed. While these proposals seemed so clear and obvious – including one on revising our General Principles to more explicitly reflect our ecological relationship with God’s Creation that was proposed by our own National – many concerns and lack of clarity arose amongst many of the National delegations. I feel perhaps that I am not in as prayerful of a space this evening as I need to be in sharing my thoughts on how the voting transpired in a reflective way. I certainly understand many of the concerns raised, and understand also how so many different cultures understand the proposals brought forward in a variety of ways. But one can’t help but still be a little disappointed of what could have been. But as Mauricio Lopez, the World CLC President (until tomorrow) from Mexico put it, can we move on in a spirit of community with decisions that many of us had not personally hoped for? From the community spirit so evident among the Assembly delegates this evening after our deliberations, we certainly can.

Part of our day was also spent on looking at and voting on the next World CLC delegate. Our choices were tricky, and so took a lot of explaining from the moderator of this part of our deliberations, Exco consultor, Denis Dobbelstein (from Belgium). We made it through and we have a budget! There will be a small change in our budget from how it has been in the past, based upon our clear Assembly vote. But that is a detail we will explain a little later.

We also spent part of our afternoon listening to a draft of the summary of the graces of our World Assembly. As you may be gathering by now, it was a hard Assembly figure out. What have we ‘achieved’ this Assembly? What do we take away? Andreé Richard, the President of CVX french Canada, summed it up very beautifully, saying that when she came here to this Assembly she was expecting to take home a baby. Where is the baby she asked today? The answer she has realized is that it is not yet delivered. We will leave this CLC Assembly pregnant with the mystery of God’s gift that has been bestowed upon us. This Assembly has not been our Bethlehem moment, but our Annunciation. Like Mary, we are left to ponder what has been given to us by God at this moment, and where it will lead us. But the gift for us to reflect upon more deeply does lie in the environment of a deepened sense of community that we need to be more intentional in sharing during the next 50 years… through a deepened sense and regard for how we listen and discern with one another in the guiding presence of the Spirit.

As always, we ended our day with Mass and dinner. Even at this late date in our Assembly different CLC Nationals still have gifts for us from their home countries… chocolates, prayer cards, rosaries, little gift bags, packets of Columbian coffee beans (Michelle loved those!). Each and every day we are presented with new gifts… in more ways than one:) Two of our interpreters who were hired also left today. On leaving they made the mistake of departing for the airport during our late afternoon break. They could not depart quietly. These people who’s voices were in our heads for these days, helping interpret God graces of our fellow delegates of different languages, were smothered with hugs, kisses, and affections from everyone, to their utter surprise. Looking at the emotion on their faces as they departed summed up quite powerfully the spirit of our Assembly and the family we have formed these last days. I would not be surprised at all if these two interpreters looked to reconnect with CLC’s when they return home.

We also had a short visit from Fr. Raffi, the Jesuit pastor of the local parish in this Buenos Aires community who hosted our day of immersion with the local community a few days ago. He came to tell us how much his parish community – which includes chapels throughout the community – truly treasured our presence with them, and to bestow upon his his blessings before our departure. Catherine Kelly then looked to me with tears in her eyes saying how hard it would be to depart.

But not for one more day. We still have one more full day in which we vote for the next World Exco… and to celebrate our Feast of St. Ignatius! Please also pray for all Canadian Jesuits as we form one Canadian Province tomorrow in a union of English and French Canadian Jesuits.

  • The photo is an image of voting day… with green cards:) Michelle and Catherine are on the right, along with Andreé Richard… with Michelle voting on our behalf. I am behind the camera:)

Blessings to each of you,