Montfort Brothers of St.Gabriel

6th Provincial Chapter

Dear Brothers,
Welcome to the 6th Provincial Chapter!

The evangelists Mathew, Mark & Luke have a clear 'message' for us through John the Baptist, who demonstrated the most courageous 'leadership' qualities in the New Testament! John the Baptist had stronger convictions than his critics. His message was decisive. He echoed "Repent, turn back and be baptized". The Catholic Church has declared this year (October 11, 2012 to November 24, 2013) as the 'Year of Faith' even as she is embarking on a path of renewal through her call for 'New Evangelization'. In order to understand what exactly the church is expecting of us by New Evangelization, we have to re-visit and listen to the thundering voice of the one crying in the wilderness.

So the people asked him, saying "What shall we do then?" The tax collectors said to him "Teacher, what shall we do?" Likewise the soldiers asked him "And what shall we do?" (Luke 3:10-14). He had only one answer - "Repent, prepare the way of the Lord, make His paths straight, fill the valleys, bring down the mountains and hills, make straight the crooked paths." Luke 3: 4-5.

Today, gathered here for the Chapter, we the Chapter members should ask the same question like those who came to be 'evangelized' by John the Baptist. "Teacher, what shall we do?" What shall we do at this juncture of rapid changes in society through science and technology, the loss of sense of sin, destabilization of God's creation, decline in faith and moral values and lack of accountability at all levels?

The 31st General Chapter has snatched the opportunity to address some of these issues through its message and reflections. It calls for in depth introspection of our 'lives' in the background and context of 'New Evangelization'. It has clearly invited every Brother to move forward from the theoretical realms of 'Leadership and Brotherhood' into the regions of 'action'. Everyone who heard John the Baptist realized the need for 'conversion' and 'baptism'. Even the most righteous ones among us need to go through this new process of evangelization and repair our crooked, rough and hilly ways. This can be done only by deepening our 'faith' and finding new expressions and meaning in the Gospels which will strengthen our relationship with Christ. This re-reading the Gospels for 'transformation' of ourselves will make us 'Authentic leaders' and our 'actions' will qualify us to be 'Authentic Brothers' beyond the ordinary sense and terminology of Leadership and Brotherhood.

The 'Year of Faith' announced by the Holy Father and the process of 'New Evangelization' beckons us to renew our Faith Life at the personal level and the community level. Our life of faith must be integrated with our commitment and mission. Our faith must lead us to give special attention to justice and ecological issues.

Our 'religious life' has no meaning or purpose unless we are rooted in Christ. "I am the true vine you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing". John 15/5. The purpose of our privileged way of life is not mere exclusiveness and personal sanctification. Today, Religious life is considered as an inclusive way of life to embrace the whole universe with the Good News of Christ. Preaching the 'Good News' and proclamation of the 'Kingdom' are the fine elements of Evangelization. As Christians, as Religious, as Montfort Brothers of St Gabriel, we are called to be Evangelists. "Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation". Mark 16/15. We cannot evangelize the world unless we are rooted in Him - We cannot transform the world, unless we 'lead like Him'. We cannot preach the good news unless we 'live like Him'.

It is said on the eve of announcing the convocation of the Second Vatican Council, Pope John XXIII told his secretary, "Christ has been there on the cross with his arms outstretched for two thousand years, where have we got to in preaching the Good News?" Vatican II opened the windows of the church to bring a 'gust of fresh air'. Today, 50 years later, the challenge is taken up afresh by the church through the process of 'New Evangelization' for the transmission of Christian faith. By this process the church invites us to open the windows of our inner-self, so that we may be refreshed in our commitment, mission and life of faith.

The 31st General Chapter unconsciously tries to define this process of 'new evangelization' and transmission of Christian faith through its call to be rooted in Jesus Christ, the incarnate wisdom. The Sixth Provincial Chapter gives us an opportunity to evaluate and measure out the depth of our rootedness in Christ. If our roots in Christ are shallow or are unable to penetrate deeper, it is time for us to question ourselves and take the remedial steps without being trampled by misguided men around us or picked up by the birds and wild boars of our ego and personal agendas.

While the Gospel standards of Evangelization is clear and loud, it measures low or very little when it comes to our daily lives as 'Brothers' living our commitment and carrying out our Mission. The Fifth Provincial Chapter enumerated a number of obstacles and difficulties that reduces the quality of our discipleship to lesser degrees. The Sixth Provincial Chapter should re-visit these difficulties and obstacles in all seriousness in the context of the message of the 31st General Chapter Viz. "Starting afresh from Christ". All the laws, rules and regulations are 'man-made' in order to discipline ourselves and to streamline our lives. We always get what we want. We are also the products of our own thoughts and actions. If we put 'junk in' - We get 'junk out'. The question is, what do we want out of this Chapter? Are we going to get away from here succumbing to what we like to do, instead of questioning ourselves on what we ought to do as Brothers of Jesus rooted in Him? This Chapter is the appropriate forum for us to take the right decisions for our own growth and the effectiveness of our mission - 'the proclamation of the good News'.

Rootedness in Christ means:
We cannot serve two masters - mammon and God.
We have to be in constant touch with Him in 'Prayer'
We have to gather laborers and nurture them for His harvest.
We need to act more aggressively for preserving God's creation without distortion and pollution.
We have to be true and must be filled with a passion for Justice like Him.
We have to live like Him without negative passion -disciplined messengers walking with Him.
We should have the passion to see things as 'black and white'.
We should capture the 'fire' of John the Baptist for 'action'. Even "Faith without 'action' is dead" James: 2/26
You can't start a 'fire' in our Province unless it first burns in us - in each of the Chapter members. That is what the Provincial Chapter is all about!
Our rootedness in Christ should impell us to take our temperature:
Jesus asked his disciples "Who do people say I am?"... Mark: 8:27. We, as a Province should have the same courage to question ourselves "What do the people around us say that we are?" In the past those Religious Orders and Units which failed to introspect and ask this question 'in time' are battling for survival. Most of them have already disappeared with the passage of time -
How far are we relevant in the Church and in the Society today?
Do the people need us or do we need them for our vegetative survival?
Our rootedness in Christ will also lead us to reflect on the following:
The New Links, the Secular Montfortians, the Associates and Collaborators to be nurtured and built up for greater thrust and effectiveness in our mission with the spirit of collaboration, dependence and humility.
In the multi religious context of India, we need to preach the good News differently - It is time to open our doors to 'Inter Religious dialogue'.
It is now time to think of new models in our 'Education mission' and creating fresh innovative opportunities for the learner and the taught, particularly for our 'young Brothers'.
The older ones among us must discover in extended prayer, new paths and meaning in their retired lives with their illness, ageing and not so agreeable changes around them.
It is the right time to identify 'practical leadership plans' for our education mission, our prayer life and spirituality, practice of the 3 vows, governance and ecology related issues.
Though the priest is entitled to live by the altar, is it not time for us to think of devising techniques to make 'clean money' rather than the present modalities that are already being questioned and challenged by the Govt and the public?
All these reflections will lead us back to where we began - 'Repent, turn back and be baptized anew in spirit' - 'the new evangelization' - Mark 10/38. We need to look at Jesus with new eyes and hear his words with new ears. We need to be His messengers with new strategies. We need to be evangelized before we can trigger it in others. We need conversion from our labyrinthine ways. We need to step into the 'River Jordan' of faith and queue behind Jesus to be baptized in Spirit and start afresh with Him to carry on His mission, along with Mary, our mother in faith and model of 'Evangelization' .

The list of Chapter Members:

Ex - Officio Members: Elected Brothers with Perpetual Vows:
1. Bro. George Kalangod - Provincial Superior 1. Bro. Thomas K K
2. Bro. George Padikara 2. Bro. Lawrence Joseph
3. Bro. Ignatius M 3. Bro. Sabu Joseph
4. Bro. Jenny Kuriakose 4. Bro. Jacob Ezhanikatt
5. Bro. Prabhu M 5. Bro. Augustine Novello
6. Bro. Varghese Koonammavu 6. Bro. Abraham A M
7. Bro. Lourdusamy - Provincial Bursar 7. Bro. Thomas K V
8. Bro. Francis Abraham - District Superior (SPD) 8. Bro. Susai Alangaram
9. Bro. Gerard Patrick
10. Bro. Joseph Louis
11. Bro. Paul Kachappilly
12. Bro. Thomas K M
13. Bro. Jose Kannampuzha
14. Bro. Sebastian Joseph
15. Bro. Antony M P
16. Bro. Niju Thomas

Co-Opted Member:
1. Bro. Paul Kaiprambat

Elected Brothers with Temporary Vows:
1. Bro. Packianathan
2. Bro. Peter Rajan
3. Bro. Mervin Louis
4. Bro. Christuraja

The Secretaries of the Chapter:
1. Bro. John David
2. Bro. Louis Alex

* Bro. Mathew Panathanath has been replaced by the first substitute, Bro. Niju Thomas.
The Theme: "Message and Reflections of the 31st General Chapter, the message of the 5th Provincial Chapter and the Province Concerns".
The Chapter discussions and deliberations will be around 'starting afresh from Christ" and the 'New Evangelization for the transmission of faith'.
An Invitation: The chapter invites its members as well as the Brothers of the Province to "Lead like Jesus" and to "Live like Jesus".
MGA and the New Links: The Chapter will have a fresh look at the 'Montfortian Gabrielite Associates' (MGA) activities in the Province. The Provincial Administration intents to regularize and sustain the 'MGA' in all our institutions so that they will become an effective and collaborative body in our mission.

Sixth Provincial Chapter October 2012