I am glad to share with you the General Chapter Report 2014-2020 of the Brothers CMM. It gives an account of the events and policies of the years 2008-2014 and describes the priorities in policy for the coming years 2014-2020. It gives a clear insight in the activities and the spirit of the congregation and reading it, you can imagine very well what it means to work for the Brothers as their study secretary.
We may look back upon a dynamic, inspiring, and well-structured general chapter. During a two week period, thirty chapter members from eight different countries have discussed topics, which are important to all of us. They have done so with passion and with a critical analytical approach, but also with humour and mutual understanding in a spirit of great solidarity. We welcomed many guests who made an important contribution to our discussions and liturgical celebrations. We could count on dedicated staff members, indefatigable secretaries and translators, expert advisors and a large group of fellow workers and friends. The chapter report is given the meaningful title Hopeful and Faithful on the Way of Brotherhood and Mercy.
Living a hopeful life as a community of brothers
It is not obvious to be hopeful as a religious congregation. In some countries we receive young people, we open new brother houses and start new projects. That hope is tangible, though there are sometimes big challenges. In other countries, the reality is different: as a congregation we have to close houses, terminate projects and even leave certain countries. We are dealing with numerous difficulties: here and there with opposition or internal divisions, almost everywhere with a shortage of resources, personnel and leadership capacity. And yét we must cherish hope, especially in these situations we must continue to focus on our hope.
Hope in the world of today
Neither is it evident to have hope in the world of today. When you seriously consider the news, there are many reasons to lose hope, perhaps even more than to cherish hope. That is the context in which we as brothers live and work. In that context, we are called to be merciful brothers: with our mercy we bring a sign of hope.
We can be hopefully present where there are people in need, we can express solidarity, help and present perspectives. Sometimes there is very little we can do concretely, but our mere presence can be hopeful. We can bear witness to the hope that drives us as religious, every time anew. We are invited to share and deepen our hope with our fellow brothers and sisters. Because hope is closely connected with the core values of our brother community: brotherhood and mercy.
Hope springs eternal
At the word hope we can think of our vocation: the choice to become a brother, was it not prompted by hope, was it not an expression of a deep hope that lives within us? Of what hope? Of which desire? It is important that we continue to pay attention to that desire and to that hope.
Hope is something personal. Whatever you really hope for says a lot about who you are. Hope is also something that we have in common. The hope that we as brothers have in common, touches the essence of our lives.