Once again this year, I had the privilege of representing OEF at the Annual Chapter of the Province of the Americas, TSSF. This year, this meeting was held in Greater Boston with overnight accommodations at the Walker Center in Auburndale and most of the business sessions held at Grace Episcopal Church in Norwelll about a half hour drive from the Walker Center. This church is where John Brockman, Minister Provincial, serves as Rector.
Since the Province of the Americas includes all of North and Central America, the Caribbean and a large portion of South America, Chapter meetings tend to be very busy and this one was no exception. As is the custom of this body, Chapter began with a half day Quiet Day, led by Judith Gillette, TSSF. It was a time of reflection on our personal experience of our vocational charism, first, inwardly toward ourselves and, secondly, outwardly to another, to a situation or beyond.
Throughout the business sessions of Chapter, we paused every half hour for prayer. Bishop Gordon Scruton, Provincial Bishop Protector believes that the work of the order should “marinate” in prayer rather than being “bookended” by prayer. This is particularly helpful when dealing with contentious issues, of which there were a number at this particular Chapter.
The first real order of business was elections. The Minister Provincial’s first term was concluding, so there was an election for MP. John Brockman was not elected to a second term. Tom Johnson, the order’s longtime Bursar was elected MP. This created a vacancy for Bursar. David Lawson-Beck was elected Bursar. Liz Peacock was elected Director of Formation Counseling to replace the previous director who was stepping down from that position. Janine Schenone was elected to the Standing Committee. The newly elected individuals who were present were installed to their respective offices at Eucharist that evening.
Most of the second full day of Chapter was spent in small groups dealing with a variety of issues that required the attention of Chapter. Some were contentious, some were fairly routine. Many of the issues considered had been raised by the membership of the order as questions or complaints that they sought to have addressed by their leadership. The issues fell into the following categories that defined the small groups: 1) Brazil/Guyana/Caribbean, 2) Communications, 3) Financial, 4) General, 5) Pastoral/Chaplaincy, 6)Pastoral/Formation, 7) Statutes. Small groups dealt with multiple issues under their purview and returned to the large group with recommendations for action by Chapter. It was an exhausting and intense day in which some very important work was accomplished. There also was work identified that will require further study and work by task force groups in the year ahead.
It was necessary for me to leave on Friday night to return home for health reasons. The only remaining work
to be done at that point was presentation and approval of the budget on Saturday morning. As has been the case in the past, it was a rich experience to join our sisters and brothers from TSSF for their Chapter. I have developed deep respect and affection for these dedicated followers of our Father Francis.
Sr. Anjelika, OEF