Five or six times a year, the Prior General calls together his “extended” Council, composed of twelve brothers (the Master of Studies, Vicar General, seven Vicariate counsellors, two non-Vicariate counsellors and a secretary), for a week of intensive work. Generally speaking, the “CPG” (Council of the Prior General) takes place in a French priory, but this time, following the General Chapter, it seemed fitting to hold the Council in Rome.
We were housed in the Pontifical French College, which is just a five minute walk from the brothers’ priory on the Piazza Navone and provides easy access to the Vatican, as well as making it easier to welcome external participants among the Council. Of course, the work of the CPG on its own would have been enough to fill the entire week. In addition to immediate matters that needed attending to, attention needed to be given to the six “areas of work” identified by our Prior General (Brother François Xavier) and his government to be undertaken over the coming years following the General Chapter. These six areas of work include the decentralisation of the community government, the restructuring of missions, work on our charism and our founder, qualification of our fraternal life, dealing with the issue of abuse, and formation. The division of labour and a schedule were drawn up and the first committees presented their reports.
In order to be able to better ask for and receive help from the Church, the brothers were able to organise a number of special meetings: they were able to spend a two hour visit with Mgr José Rodriguez Carballo, Secretary of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, as well as receive a presentation of how that Roman Congregation operates. Mgr Rino Fisichella, President of the Pontifical Council for the New Evangelization came to the French College to pray with the Brothers and speak with them, as did Sr Marie-des-Anges, who works at the Secretary of State, and Fr Gianfranco Ghirlanda, a canonist who used to be Rector of the Gregorian University. They were all able to share with us what they working on, answer questions from the brothers and offer valuable advice on the way in which we might move forward, hand in hand with the Church. The Council was also able to visit the Dominican Friars of Santa Sabina (the Mother House of the Order), meet for some time with the Prior and Procurator and even greet the Master of the Order, Brother Gerard Timoner, during the meal.
We met men and women from the Curia who are deeply devoted to serving the Church, often working behind the scenes and with humility, and with great awareness of the weaknesses of every human group. As Br Luc testifies,”We not only received many precious suggestions, but also many words of encouragement and assurance of the confidence the Roman authorities have in us. Let us confide the work and the path of the Community to Mary, Mother of the Church, and let us pray for one another.“