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NLV – Chapter makes difficult decisions

NLV Chapter groupDelegates of the NLV chapter in Asten

On October 14 the two provinces of the NLV Confederation (Dutch and Flemish) met for the second half of their chapter in Asten. The first session of the chapter was in April. At that time the provinces met to discuss the major issues of the confederation and established a number of commissions to transcribe the discussions into resolutions and proposals. Those resolutions and proposals were put to a vote in the October 14 session.

DSC 0948There were 17 delegates at the chapter. They voted on resolutions from five commissions that dealing with various aspects of the life of the confederation. These touched on the principles governing the future of the provinces in their devolution, on mutual support (especially for confreres in need), on community life and leadership, finances, and the retreat centre “Ter Loo” in Loppem, Belgium.

The confederation is in the midst of a process of thinking and planning about how to come to a completion – which they call “Fulfillment” – of its mission as provinces. “We are an aging Confederation,” said Fr. Piet Schakenraad, superior of the confederation, in his opening remarks. “That brings with it some anxiety. We cannot do it all by ourselves anymore and we need help. We ask for God’s blessing and seek to remain ever connected with him.”

There are still seven communities in the confederation, five in the Netherlands and two in Flanders. One of the main questions at the chapter was how they might gradually let go of a number of houses in the Netherlands. In Flanders this has already been regulated. The  concern in the Netherlands has been to think of a last community where the members can live and receive medical care. That house would be Asten. However, in order to involve all the members, the province decided to hold a broad consultation among them. All will be consulted and asked to make a decision about where they want to live their last days. In other words, this is a time of decision for the provinces. On the basis of the consultation a more detailed plan will be made regarding future living possibilities of the members.

DSC 0940Also, the chapter decided to replace SCJ Contact, the quarterly opinion magazine of the NLV confederation, with an electronic newsletter giving information about the community to friends and benefactors.

The most difficult decision of the chapter was to discontinue the funding of “Ter Loo”, a retreat and reflection center in Loppem, Belgium. It was at one time the novitiate of the Flemish Province. Through a lay organization, an attempt was made to continue this ministry of the SCJs. However, the complex in Loppem needed too much structural work and the cost of maintaining the ministry was too high for the confederation to continue supporting. The lay organization will be urged to find alternative funding. With Loppem will end the final external ministry of the NLV.

Despite the overriding theme of “Fulfillment”, the chapter took place in a serene atmosphere. The next six years will bring about a dramatic change in this once most flourishing of the provinces. 

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