I am composing this week’s log on Brexit day. At 11 o’clock tonight the United Kingdom will leave the European Union, although in our house we are more concerned that midnight tonight is the end of transfer deadline day. At this time, I am involved in a series of meetings as we Passionists prepare for our Provincial Chapter next June. The Chapter takes place every four years and its primary purpose is to examine the life of the Province in our present reality, (the Province being Ireland and Scotland, as well as our English-speaking parish in Paris); confront any significant challenges or problems, and plan for the future, or at least for the next four years. The work of preparing for the Chapter is entrusted to a team of four, under the title of the Pre-Chapter Preparatory Commission (PCPC). This team is elected by the Province members, and both myself and Father Antony were among those elected, along with two others. It will be our task to consult the Province members; listen to their concerns; liaise with the Provincial and his Council; prepare the Chapter programme and agenda; receive and distribute reports and proposals; appoint and instruct a liturgy team, and make arrangements for the election of the Provincial and his Council. We do all this with the help of a facilitator.
It hardly seems like four years since our last Chapter which took place in June 2016. In a report I delivered to the Chapter as Provincial Bursar on the financial state of the Province, in a time of economic uncertainty, I assured the Province members that there wouldn’t be a leave vote for Brexit, and that Donald Trump would not be elected President of the USA. On the penultimate day of the Chapter, June 23rd, a leave vote for Brexit was delivered; and a few months later President Trump was elected. Even so, for some inexplicable reason, I was duly re-appointed Provincial Bursar – well, who else would be daft enough to take the job?
After the Chapter, the newly elected Provincial and his Council will consult and then take on the task of making the various appointments throughout the Province that they believe can deliver on the pastoral priorities set by the Chapter. Four years ago, after the Chapter had made a new commitment to developing the Passionist mission in Scotland, Father Gareth and I were approached about coming to St. Mungo’s to become the new parish team, and the rest, you might say, is history. We joined Father Justinian and Father Lawrence in the new community residence in Bishopbriggs and then, a year later, we were joined by Brother Antony, now Father Antony. I know I am truly blessed to have such a team, and blessed too in the welcome, support, affirmation and encouragement we have received from so many people who offer their service, or who simply choose to come to St. Mungo’s as their place of prayer and worship. It’s not perfect, nothing is, and throughout the past four years there have been lots of difficulties, struggles, disappointments and tears, in ours and in others’ lives, but still we journey on together, the Lord with us, and the Spirit guiding us, if we listen.
What will happen during this Provincial Chapter and afterwards? Only the Holy Spirit knows, and even the Holy Spirit might not be so sure in these confusing and challenging times. All I can say is, that if the Province members renewed their commitment to our Passionist presence and mission in Scotland last time around, then I have no doubt that they will do so even more enthusiastically this time around. There may be interesting times ahead. I would ask that you pray for us over these next few months, and to be assured that we are praying for you too. As the saying goes; for all that has been we say thank you, and for all that is to come we say yes.
Faithful to the charism of St Paul of the Cross, the Mission of the Passionists is to keep alive in the world the love of Jesus Crucified as seen in His Sacred Passion. This mission is rooted in prayerful community life and is expressed in collaborative ministry to the people of God in all walks of life especially to the poor and suffering. We seek the unity of our lives and our Apostolate in the Passion of Jesus. (Mission Statement of the Congregation of the Passion)