Today the Indian Chapter came to a close! One of the obligatory acts of all chapters is the official photo. There are 30 delegates in the photo plus Fr. Paul Suginio from the General Council and myself as moderator.
The present rules for their district state that anyone in final vows may participate in the chapter. This group (30) represents the bulk of those in final vows, the majority of those not present are Indian SCJs overseas for study. There are a few Indians who are now members of other provinces or regions and as such they are not counted as members of the district.
Our whole morning was spent going over the proposed SCJ District Directory. This is an important document that basically outlines how the community is to live, function and work in India. Every province, region or district is mandated to write a directory; and from time to time to update its content, usually following a General Chapter where certain changes are made in our general law (Our Rule of Life) that must then be reflected in the local directories. This is not an easy document to produce and a lot of credit goes to Fr. Jesu Manuel and his team for their excellent work.
Fr. Jesu gave credit to the work done in Angola and Vietnam on their district directories which provided models that made it easier to formulate the proposed Indian directory. It took all morning to go through the document — not always an easy task, but everyone stuck with it and by the noon break we were about ready to approve it.
Returning in the afternoon the first order of business was to make two modifications in the document; one in its introduction and the other regarding what to do with an appendix on vocations. Dispatching both in short order the directory was unanimously approved. It will now go to the general administration which must give its final approval before it has the force of law in the district.
That left one small but important matter to take care of: the election of two delegates and two alternates to next May’s XXIII General Chapter to be held at our Generalate in Rome. Since Fr. Thomas Vinod is not considered a major superior (because India is a district dependent upon the Generalate) he does not go to Rome automatically. I’m happy to report that he was elected as the first delegate on the first ballot. It didn’t take long to elect Fr. Vimala (Vimal) Thiyagarajan as the second delegate. The alternates elected are Fr. McQueen Mascarenhas and Fr. Marianand Gargarapu.
I might point out that Frs. Vimal and Marianand both studied in Rome. Fr. Vimal taking the SCJ formation course while I believe Fr. Marianand studied youth ministry at the Salisianum.
Since the voting went rather quickly we had time to bring the chapter to a close by giving the delegates a chance to bring anything up that had not been discussed during the chapter and since nothing was suggested we began an evaluation. Trusting the sentiment of those who spoke represented the opinions of all, the chapter was a success and was well received by each delegate. Keep in mind that for all but seven of the 30 delegates this was their first experience of a chapter. This gives district something more to build on for the future.
While the work of the delegates is done the work of the district council is not. It will meet at 6:00 pm and if necessary, after supper as well. Tomorrow is a day-long outing to the tourist sites of Mysore and then at 6:30 pm the 14 of us from Kerala will catch the bus to make the long journey home. If all goes well we’ll be back in Kochi around 4:30 a.m.