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GER - The German Province comes together in Chapter

Group better

Neustadt an der Weinstrasse is in the midst of its annual Weinfest. The harvest in the vast vineyards of the Pfalz is so far advanced that its annual festival around the newly harvested grapes was in full swing as the German Province came together in Chapter.

Heiner Mass 2Altogether 15 members gathered in a circle in the conference room on Monday, October 6, together with Frau Marion Schwermer (moderator),  Fr. Krystof Cynal (representing the Austrian-Croatian District) and Fr. John van den Hengel (vicar general and liaison from the General Administration to the European provinces). Much of the group was quite young; the average age of chapter delegates was in the mid-40s.

The German Province now consists of 44
 members, half of whom are over 70 years of age. Of the 22 between 30 and 69, there are four Brazilians. The average age of the province is 65.47. The German Province has built a creative relationship with the Brazilian Provinces which has allowed the province to renew itself. Also, a greater cooperation between Germany and Poland has developed. This has given much vibrancy to the province.

The question which dominated the chapter was “Based on my experience and my insight, what directions shall we pursue in the German Province?”

ListeningThe process of the Chapter was inductive; most of the sessions were done in plenary assembly. Gradually, through open discussion, the issues of the chapter emerged. Unlike many other chapters, only after the issues of the province were on the table did the Provincial Superior, Fr. Heiner Wilmer, give his report of the province, and Fr. Gerd Hemken, his financial report.

Throughout the chapter the theme selected
 by the General Administration “Merciful, in community, with the poor” encouraged the members to reflect on what it means for them to be merciful, and even more strongly, with the poor. A historical reflection on this was given  by Fr. John van den Hengel, and a more experiential reflection was delivered by Mathilde Roentgen and Ulli  Kirchhoff, members of a community LaCroiz in Freiburg, who lived “with the poor” for almost a dozen years.

In the end, the chosen orientations given
 to the province for the next six years revolved around the life and future of the communities within the challenges of declining vocations, the aging of members and the ongoing process of secularity in Germany.  

Fr. Horst Steppkes was elected as a delegate to the General Chapter, Fr. Markus Moench was elected as the substitute. It is the first time in many years that the German Province was only allowed one elected delegate. The chapter ended on October 10.

A text about the chapter is also available in German as a sidebar story. Click here to read it. 

Tables in circle