Greetings from Rome. As you know, the Fifth Ordinary General Assembly of the Union took place from January 24th to 27th, 2018 in the Casa di Esercizi Spirituali Padri Passionisti, Piazza Ss. Giovanni e Paolo, 13, 00184 - Roma (RM), for which was chosen the General Theme “Communion and Co-responsibility” (cf. General Statutes, art. 1), with particular application to the areas of family, young people and mission.
As stated in the letter sent out before the Assembly to introduce the General Theme, “Communion is at the very heart of all that we are called to be and to do as a Pallottine Family, a deep communion with our Triune God incarnated in our relationships with one another, a communion in co-responsibility [which] is of its very nature directed towards mission. The UAC, bearer of the charism of St. Vincent Pallotti (cf. Pope Francis, Address to Participants in the General Assembly of the Society of the Catholic Apostolate, 10 October 2016), is constantly and dynamically urged to make the journey towards co-responsibility be more widely and deeply appreciated and given practical application in its life and mission in the Church and the world”.
Guided by this spirit and vision, the members of the General Assembly met and strove to discern some concrete priorities for the next three years for the General Coordination Council and its Commissions and for the entire Union.
Fr. David Kinnear Glenday, MCCJ, Rector General Emeritus of the Comboni Missionaries and General Secretary of the Union of Superiors General (USG), addressed the General Theme of ‘Communion and Corresponsibility’. He prayed that the Lord, through his word, would lead us to what is most essential and life-giving regarding the Union. In his talk, “Celebrating the Joy of Communion, of Collaboration, of Corresponsibility”, he proposed five verbs to explain what it means to celebrate such joy: to remember, in a way which rekindles our awe, the origins of our charism and our own very personal origins in discovering it, and also to remember the story of new beginnings in the history of the charism and in our own personal history in the Union; to discern, with increasing attention, the action of the Spirit in the present, what moves us, and gives us joy in the Union; to desire, nurturing the good desires through which the Spirit wishes to lead us forward as Union; to serve, putting our good desires into action to serve God’s people, to sow joy, going out to the peripheries, not remaining comfortable spectators, not seeking to solve everything now, but rather to put in place processes which will grow and bear fruit over time; to console, through increasingly becoming that Union of Catholic Apostolate which by its very name is called to be a consolation for so many people, developing that communion and corresponsibility of different vocations working together which has been there right from the beginning of the founding charism. He also encouraged us to experiment courageously, humbly and intelligently by beginning projects where communion and corresponsibility are to be expressed, while continuing our reflection as we go in the light of the lived experience which such projects will bring.
During the working sessions there were reports given by the President, the Ecclesiastical Assistant, the Superiors General of the CSAC and SAC Pallottine Sisters respectively, the General Secretary, the General Bursar and the Chairs, respectively, of the International Formation and the Juridical Commissions, and of the Mission and the Family Subgroups. There was a report from each NCC, given by the President, Vice-President or NCC representative, which highlighted the areas of growth in the Union in the territory and the joys and struggles encountered in the efforts to live and develop a communal apostolic life and mission. There were also reports from each of the three invited members of the General Assembly.
In various ways, all the reports made a precious contribution to recognising all that the Pallottine charism is doing in the world and to deepening our sense of identity as UAC.
Finally, the Juridical Commission presented a draft document regarding Guidelines for Professional Standards for Adult Pastoral Relationships. The Commission will continue preparing a document for GCC approval to be sent out for wider consultation and feedback within the Union and with competent professionals, with a view to eventual approval by the next General Assembly.
Since the General Assembly “is the highest body of consultation and decision making in the Union” (GS 91), it focused on some specific areas that are to be addressed by the UAC. On the final day, with regard to the specific areas of formation, evangelisation and finance, the General Assembly approved the following decisions and recommendations, which are now presented to you.
DECISIONS APPROVED BY THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY
The V General Assembly of the UAC mandates the GCC to promote and initiate an annual collection in all Pallottine parishes. This collection will contribute to the expenses of the UAC at the International level.
RECOMMENDATIONS APPROVED BY THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY
Furthermore, the Assembly suggests that the organisation of the Course be entrusted to the International Formation Commission.
Such resources could include liturgies, prayer, music, activities, reflection, contemplation and the support of a listening heart and ear, in the spirit of compassion and mercy as outlined in Amoris Laetitia.
It is our common challenge and mission to give shape and expression to this in and through the Union of Catholic Apostolate.
The V General Assembly of the UAC recommends that the results of these initiatives be reported to the next UAC General Assembly.
Some of these matters pertain to the structures of the Union at the General level and do not require any implementation on your part; others require further planning and development regarding their implementation and the General Secretariat will be in contact with you again as these come to fruition; still others are recommendations that the NCC, LCCs and Communities and groups of the Union in each country can already begin to think about and implement. You are asked to inform the members and collaborators of the Union in your country of this communication and seek to reflect together on and implement the issues which are pertinent to your situation.
We wish you every inspiration and guidance as you reflect on and implement these important matters for the life of the Union.
We also take this opportunity to express our gratitude and recognition to everyone in the Union, since you have accompanied the General Assembly with your thoughts, prayers, blessings, and also with your own suffering, and for the witness to the charism which you give in your daily lives in service of the Church and wider society as members of the Pallottine Family.
We are certain that Mary, Queen of Apostles and Mother of the Pallottine Family, will help us go forward together on the journey towards communion and co-responsibility in the life and mission of the Union of Catholic Apostolate worldwide in the spirit of our Founder, St. Vincent Pallotti.
Donatella Acerbi Frank Donio, SAC
President Vice President
Rory Hanly, SAC
Charity exercised as described by the Apostle forms all the substantial constituent of the Union; if this were to be lacking the Catholic Apostolate would no longer be in it; therefore [...] the more perfectly the Union will exercise the charity of Jesus Christ through the action of its members, the more luminous and fruitful will be its success in all of its evangelical undertakings (OOCC III, 137-138).