The 25th General Chapter began with the celebration of Holy Mass in the beautiful Thai style chapel at Pattaya. Fr. General was the chief celebrant assisted by the Vicar General, Fr. Enrique Lopez and the Provincial of Thailand Fr. Joseph Apisit.
A votive Mass of the Holy Spirit was celebrated in Italian. The homily was based on the gospel from John, on the post-resurrectional appearance of Jesus and his message of peace. Fr General reminded the capitulars that Jesus can come even through closed or locked doors. Quoting the address of the Holy Father at the beginning of the last Synod, he reminded us that this is not a business meeting or a parliament style gathering, but a work of the Holy Spirit. He urged all present to enter into a mode of listening, fraternal sharing and openness to the Spirit of God.
At the conclusion of the Mass all the members processed to the Aula which has been specially constructed for this Chapter. On entering, Fr General officially blessed the building and all present.
After a short break, the 100 capitulators (one has yet to arrive) and 16 support staff consisting of notaries, translators and technical support personnel listened while Fr General outlined the programme of the morning. He introduced first of all the three moderators, and advice was given about the voting machines and other equipment.
Brother Jeffrey Rolle read the document from the Commission for ratifying the status of all present as voting members of the Chapter, after which Fr. General asked all to vote on the proposition that the 25th General Chapter be officially opened.
This was followed by a report from the Secretary General in which he outlined details of the preparation for the Chapter which have taken place, and also gave details of the various documents supplied to each Chapter member. An outline of the daily timetable was also given.
We were reminded by Fr. General that today is the birthday of both Blessed Maria Celeste Crostorosa and also Fr. Brendan Kelly, the Secretary General!!!
Fr. Michael from the local community then introduced the local support team who will work to ensure the smooth running of the Chapter. He also informed us of possibilities for seeing the locality and our various Redemptorist apostolates.
For the first time at a General Chapter, the confreres sat at 13 large round tables in language groups, and it is hoped that this will facilitate easier and more effective communication.
A break for lunch was taken and in the afternoon further information and opening formalities will take place.
Ronald J. McAinsh, C.SS.R.