The chapter for the Southern Europe vicariate took place in a snowy Bucharest from 7-12th January.
It began, as is the tradition, with reports from the various priories. The priories are all doing well; they are seeing growth in both their apostolic life and their fraternal life. However, it was noted that each priory experiences certain difficulties due to not having enough brothers.
The reports from the Prior General and the Master of Studies helped the brothers understand the work that has taken place over the last three years. The brothers were grateful for the freedom with which the superiors expressed themselves, and which enabled them to receive their reports in a calm and constructive way.
Refreshment and enrichment were provided by excursions and visits enjoyed together. The brothers were particularly moved by a pilgrimage to Jilava Prison, where Blessed Vladimir Ghika died a martyr for the faith on 16th May 1954: a Romanian priest and an intellectual giant, he had a deep Johannine spirituality, and prepared the way for the work of the Brothers and Sisters of Saint John.
The rest of the chapter focussed on the particular issues faced in this vicariate. The closing of the priory in Nalchik was discussed, as well as the future of the priory in Bucharest and of the whole of the Southern Europe Vicariate. It seemed important that its current structure should be maintained, even though it may not be very robust.
During the chapter, the brothers benefited from a remarkable presentation by the Romanian Jesuit Fr Marius Talos on spiritual accompaniment. A Francophile and Francophone, Fr Talos delighted the brothers with his approach to the biblical figure of Samuel, who was both a master and someone who accompanied others. His talk was full of culture and humour, and generated a reflection together on the different ways we can accompany people spiritually.
The brothers elected to take part in the general chapter are brothers Dan, Gabriel-Mary and Johannes; the ‘subs’ are brothers Johann and Jean Bosco.
Everyone was united in giving thanks for how much life there is in the vicariate and in hoping that things will go from strength to strength in the future.