Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer,
popularly known as the Redemptorists, celebrated
its 275th anniversary on November 9, 2007.
During that long history there have been
only twenty-three General Chapters. The
assembly that begins in Rome in October,
2009 will be the twenty-fourth. That statistic
alone suggests that a General Chapter is
an extraordinary event in the life of a
religious order or congregation.
General Chapter is a visible expression of
a fundamental sense of democracy that lies
at the heart of religious life. This democracy
is based on the radical equality of all the
members by virtue of their baptism and their
religious consecration, hence their common
vocation to be prophets or spokespersons for
God. In this sense, a General Chapter resembles
more the gathering of Mary and the apostles
at Pentecost than a modern parliament or congress.
The participants in the General Chapter gather
in the name of Jesus Christ, confident that
his Spirit will help us to accomplish our
are those tasks?
The General Chapter must
first take an honest look at the state of
the Congregation, which carries out its mission
in seventy-seven countries across the globe.
This examination should then lead the Chapter
members to face honestly certain discomforting
questions: are we faithful to our mission
or have we slid into mediocrity? What is
the Lord asking of us today? How are we being
asked to change? The General Chapter will
offer specific directives for the whole Congregation
as it proposes a path to help Redemptorists
live more authentically their missionary vocation.
Finally, the delegates will elect the leadership
of the Congregation for the next six years:
the Superior General and his Consultors
who together form the General Council.
will do the work? The
Chapter begins with over 100 members from
the 37 provinces, 25 vice-provinces, 16 regions
and 11 missions of the Congregation. Most
are provincial, vice-provincial or regional
Superiors, though a province with more than
100 members is entitled to elect a second
representative. For example, the Province
of Warsaw, the largest single unit in the
Congregation, is entitled to two voting delegates
in addition to its superior. The Superior
General, his immediate predecessor and the
General are all voting members, as well as
the Secretary General, the Treasurer General
and the Procurator General. With this composition,
the General Chapter will count on representatives
from all the continents and practically each
of the seventy-seven countries where the Congregation
is present today.