At fixed times all the abbots/abbesses come together. They discuss there the salvation of their own souls and of those committed to them. They take measures regarding the observance of the Holy Rule and of the Order where there is something that needs to be corrected or added. They foster anew among themselves the benefit of peace and charity. They devote themselves to maintaining the patrimony of the Order and safeguarding and increasing its unity. (C.77)

Wednesday, September 28, 2011


  • Transparency.

The abbot general, Dom Eamon Fitzgerald doesn’t need much time to think when I ask him to give me a key word for his impression of this first single General Chapter of abbots and abbesses, so I could share with the readers of the blog:
  • There has been a growing transparency from Chapter to Chapter. This year I find a great honesty in the sharing people have given. This was showed clearly in the Regional Reports, but also in the House Reports. People have been more prepared to admit where they are. The work in the commissions has been along the same line. It is the 8th General Chapter I experience, and I find that this year there is more openness to other cultures, and more acceptance of others being different. We are not afraid to admit our weakness and difficulties.
  • Is this special for the General Chapter or is it a change of climate in the Order in general?
  • Dom Mauro, the abbot general of the OCist, talked well about this is his experience of visiting the communities, and I have had the same experience. Many people used to look at the abbot general as somebody up there, but my experience now is that people are happy to receive the abbot general, they receive me with love and very warm and good relations. I like to meet with the individual monks and nuns.
  • Have you learned something new during this General Chapter?
  • I have become more conscious about observing how people relate to one another. There is so much to learn from the interactions even in coffee breaks. Unconsciously we pick up a lot from what others say and how they interact, and we assimilate without acknowledging. I have become more conscious about how I do this, how I learn from observing others, says Dom Eamon, looking forward to a time of rest in Ireland after some very full weeks in the service of the Order.

In the evaluation of the Chapter it was clear that everybody appreciated the openness and warmth and pastoral care that have been so palpable in the work, and the strong sense of communion, especially in the mixed commissions where we dealt with the situation of the particular communities. Cheerfulness and good humor has contributed to a light and warm atmosphere. We were enriched by the depth in the sharings and the good mutual listening.

Although we lived through the sadness of the decisions of closing two houses (Achel and Ubexy), and the pain of difficult situations, we have experienced that this Chapter will give new life to our Order. It is a help to experience that one is not alone in the difficulties experienced. Many said this was the best General Chapter they had experienced. This applied both the warm relationships, the content of the conferences, the exchanges and the pastoral care showed in the commissions and the aula, and it applied to the liturgy, although there were different views on the use of Latin. We have experienced how the Charter of Charity is alive among us. Many thanks were given to those who have carried special burdens of responsibility and practical work, not the least to the translators and interpreters.

There was great satisfaction with the place and accommodation of the General Chapter, and although there were suggestions of choosing Lourdes or Fatima for the next Chapter, Assisi seemed to be the choice for most of the capitulants also for 2014.
In his last word to the assembly, Dom Eamon especially mentioned how he appreciated the reports of the regions, and the surprise gift of the Prefect of the Congreation of Religious Life allowing us to become one single General Chapter. The quality of the working papers was also mentioned, and the honesty, simplicity and friendships in the good relationships.

Sr. Hanne-Maria of Tautra