Monday, 5 September 2011

Provincial Chapter: the Beginning

Last night almost all the Capuchins of the British Province gathered at Pantasaph Friary, the oldest and largest of our houses on this isle, for the Provincial Chapter. Other Provinces send delegates from each house to the Chapter; but we're so small that everyone can participate, with only a couple of infirm brothers unable to attend. The Chapter, I should explain, is a meeting which takes place every three years, at which the friars discuss issues facing them and discern together the way God is leading them forward. Among the decisions to be made, often the most significant is the election of the Provincial Minister and his council (oddly called, 'the Definitory').

The Chapter is also a fraternal occasion, however, so after last night's initial business there was a time to socialise, to enjoy each other's company. Indeed, a lot of 'business' gets done at the dinner tables or over a drink; because our life and our work are always intermingled.

We had an opening liturgy this morning, in which our minds were focussed by some readings from writings by and about St. Francis, and from Scripture. The Provincial Minister then washed the feet of the oldest and youngest brothers, as a reminder that authority exists to serve.

The next two sessions of the day involved 'appreciative inquiry' exercises, led by Ronnie McEwan, a Marist Brother, to get us into the right frame of mind for the deliberations to follow. Thus far, however, the only 'business session' was the presentation of the Provincial's Report, and questions concerning it. I, as the minute-taker, was kept rather busy trying to keep up with the various contributions. Alas, an enthusiastic description of the beautiful view of Greyfriars garden was not done justice in my notes. The list of flowers to be seen out the window of the new chapel passed by too fast to be recorded.

It won't be flowers on the agenda tomorrow, however. Tomorrow we have the elections. Come, Holy Spirit!