As you all know, I am in full General Canonical Visitation. Roughly halfway through the job. I have already visited Bethany, Austria, Italy, West Africa, United States-Puerto Rico, Californias, Brazil-Bolivia, Central America-Caribbean, Chile and Japan-Philippines. The visit of some of these demarcations is not finished yet, but we’re going little by little.

As you can imagine, the situations are very diverse, and that forces us to discern well on the best options to strengthen the Piarist life and mission in each of the demarcations.

Along with the tasks of the General Visit, there are other things that we are carrying forward. I highlight three of them: the meetings with the new demarcational congregations, the accompaniment of the chapter processes and the realization of the various training meetings envisaged.

There are some issues that I consider important and on which I would like to offer you some information. They all have a common denominator: What options would help us more in the task of growing in our capacity of life and mission? I would like to share with you some of those that are emerging in the whole of the visits, in so many dialogues, reflections and prayers.

A “Spiritual” option with very specific consequences: to understand well the central option of Calasanz. Calasanz worked for many years at school. He gave his life for the mission. But he didn’t just do that. He didn’t just “work”. He built the Order. That’s why I think we need to get into this spiritual dynamic. It is not enough to give our life for the mission; we must build the Order, to make possible the Pious Schools. And this in every place, in each demarcation, in each one of us. At the end, it is a spiritual option and a change of mindset.

This option is called to cause profound changes. It is very important to work with devotion and generosity in the place where we are, but we cannot lose perspective, and sometimes we lose it. And this has a lot to do with the availability, with the opening to the needs of the Province or of the Order, with the overcoming of the localisms, with the pastoral on vocations, etc.

There is a second option that is being reflected in the Canonical Visit: to increase the number of novitiates, with the horizon that each Province comes to have its own novitiate, always open to the needs of others. Right now, we have three novitiates in America, two in Africa, four in Europe and two in Asia. I share my conviction that, if each Province works to have its own novitiate, this would result in the growth of awareness of the importance of the Pastoral on Vocations and Initial Training, and in the co-responsibility of all for the growth of Province.

I also share my conviction that this option is not against the “mentality of Order”, but in favor of the construction of more stable, cohesive and dynamic provinces. There are many options that we can and must work to advance in “Order consciousness”. I invite the major superiors to reflect on this matter, which I consider very important. I think that the maturity of a Province is expressed privilegedly in some options, and among them I quote the ability to found in other places and the effort to have, complete, the whole formative itinerary.

I don’t want to stop insisting, however, In the obligation of mutual assistance among all the demarcations for the proper development of the initial training of all young Piarists. Nor do I want to stop remembering that, in order to make this possible, we must move much further on the training of trainers.

To decisively promote the Calasanz Movement. It is an option that is growing and consolidating little by little, but I think we should bet more strongly for it. The Calasanz Movement seeks to engender complete pastoral processes from childhood to adult youth; to strengthen the Piarist Christian Community; to make the Piarist Fraternity more consistent; provoking more vocational options, including Piarist religious life, etc. But above all, it seeks to accompany the integral process of faith of children and young people, so that they can carry forward their well-accompanied and shared options. All the demarcations are called to make decisions that will allow this Piarist pastoral process to be really a good reference for everyone.

To strengthen the Piarist Fraternity is another of the keys that are coming out with force in the Canonical Visit. The Fraternity of the Pious Schools is an option that is already many years old. It has ceased to be a “novelty” or “something typical of some provinces”. It is an option of Order, for all, clearly consolidated in our Common Rules. The mandate of the Order[1] is “to promote and consolidate the Piarists fraternities” and “to establish with them the appropriate institutional relations“. That is to say, it is not only a matter of promoting them, but of placing them properly in the whole of the demarcation and of each Piarist presence.

The commitment to the integral sustainability of our presences. The concept of “integral sustainability” is being more and more spoken of and understood. Sometimes when we talk about sustainability it seems that we are essentially referring to economic resources. And it’s not like that. Of course, economic resources are necessary, and their search, administration and management are a first-class challenge for the Pious Schools. But when we talk about sustainability we have to think of more things. Among them: presence of the Piarists; Piarists Christian Communities that are the reference of the work; mission projects; Calasanctian identity of educators, etc. The question is to ensure that our presences are always Piarist.

The “going forth” dynamic. As it is logical, in all the visits to the Provinces appears this challenge that we have posed as Pious Schools: to move forward in a “Going forth Culture“, to help us to grow in missionary capacity, interculturality, generation of new Piarists dynamisms, impulse of new presences, etc. The project “Pious Schools Going Forth” is called to consolidate little by little and to offer new possibilities for the Order. I repeat my invitation to welcome this proposal with boldness and generosity.

The accompaniment of people. It is a topic that comes out repeatedly in all the meetings of the visit. It is true that it comes out in a special way when we talk about young people in formation and religious in their early years of adult Piarist life, but it is clear that this is a challenge for all ages. How do we accompany our elderly and sick? How do we prepare community leaders in this dynamic? What kind of training mediations do we organize for young adults? What proposals do we establish for the various life cycles? How do we prepare young Piarists to learn to accompany? How far is the accompaniment one of the hallmarks of our training processes? We may be missing renewal opportunities by not going deeper into what this challenge represents. I find more theoretical than real sensibility to carry it forward or to look for it.

The community. As it is logical, the general visit brings with it a meeting with each Piarist community. It’s something that you can’t miss. And in all the meetings we talk about our community life, the challenges we have, how we can make things better. There are questions and advance tracks. I just quote a few: the challenge of welcoming new members into communities, which come with new sensitivities and sometimes meet the “always done so” wall; the importance of the community celebration of the faith, especially of the Eucharist, which in some communities is not guaranteed, with various excuses; our ability to have meetings and training dynamics in our communities; the capacity of our communities to welcome young people and to accompany them; the challenge of living the stewardship in the mission and not falling into which each one feels owning it without having to do with the others; the progressive advance in the model of Piarist presence, which relocates our communities in the whole of the local Piarist reality; the experience of Province and Order that is lived and recreated in each community; the experience of poverty and seriousness in our economic life, etc. Finally, I believe that the challenges are clear: how to live the centrality of the Lord; how to accompany each other and how our communities become soul of the mission.

The care of the Piarist Pastoral on vocations. In all places we have talked about it, because I see a growing sensibility towards its impulse and development. And I see it in two directions: its diversity, and its specificity. Vocational diversity must be cared for and promoted, and the specificity of the Piarist religious and priestly vocation must be protected and consolidated. And all this from the perspective of the Kingdom of God and the construction of the Pious Schools, always from the conviction expressed and sustained by Calasanz: “It also follows that the Institute needs to expand and propagate itself according to the needs, desires, and petitions of so many. This cannot be done without many laborers. Those cannot easily be secured if they lack great generosity and a call to this particular ministry”[2]

There are more topics that appear throughout the General visit. I don’t intend to exhaust them all. I just want to make you partakers of some of them, so that you can share the brothers’ worries and hopes.

Receive a fraternal hug.

Fr. Pedro Aguado Sch. P.

Father General

[1] Common Rules of the Pious Schools, n. 228.

[2] Saint Joseph CALASANZ. Memorial to Cardinal Tonti.

 

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