2014 Provincial Chapter


In the week leading up to the AFL Grand Final, nineteen religious of the Blessed Sacrament Congregation met for the four-yearly Chapter of the Australian Province of the Holy Spirit. Two of these came from Rome - Brazilian-born Superior General, Eugenio Barbosa Martins SSS, and his Vicar, Fr Bong Luistro SSS, from the Philippines. The meeting, skilfully facilitated by Patricia Bergin, took place at a congenial conference centre located an hour or so north of Melbourne.

After the initial address by the Superior General, the group considered several reports focussed on the life and mission of the Province. In the course of the five days, sessions were devoted to:

• the challenges ahead, summed up by outgoing Province Leader Graeme Duro SSS
• health and well-being issues, presented by professional consultant Bruce Houghton
• mission perspectives and possibilities, led by Tony McSweeney SSS
• finance and administration matters, outlined by Provincial Treasurer Pat Negri SSS and Business Manager Mark O’Brien
• the outcome of ministry reviews at St Francis’ and St Peter Julian’s
• feedback on the Eymardian pilgrimages of 2012 and 2013
• the demands of pastoral ministry for Vietnamese priest, Fr Tan SSS, as parish priest of North Melbourne and chaplain to the Vincent Liem Centre
• the agenda for next January’s Amplified General Council meeting in Senegal.

Along the way a new team was elected to lead the Province for the next four years. Jo Dirks SSS takes up the role of Province Leader, with the assistance of Philip Watkins and Ken Boland as Consultors, and Pat Negri as Treasurer.

The newly elected Provincial Leadership Team
Frs Pat Negri, Jo Dirks, Philip Watkins, Ken Boland

Two visiting speakers gave thought-provoking addresses. The first was Good Samaritan Sister, Michelle Reid SGS, who manages a refuge for women and children in suburban Melbourne. The second was by lawyer Richard Leder on the Victorian Parliamentary Enquiry and the Royal Commission into child sexual abuse.

The weather may have gone from sunny to windy and wet and back again, but what never changed was the great spirit of fraternity, prayer and openness that persisted throughout the Chapter. As long as this continues the Province will be well placed to face the challenges that lie ahead.