Redemptorists logo
Our Mother of Perpetual Help Icon
Since 1732, the Redemptorists — a congregation of missionary priests and brothers — have followed in Jesus’ footsteps, preaching the Word and serving the poor and most abandoned.
Redemptorists logo


Chapter Chat: Charting the future

Redemptorist Worldwide Chapter | Rome, Italy
October 30, 2009

When I told my family and friends that I was going to Rome for a month, they told me how lucky I was. When I explained that it was not for a vacation but a meeting, they asked, “What could you talk about for a month?” Good question.

Since there is only a General Chapter every six years, there are a great many issues to be addressed. This is only the 24th General Chapter since the Redemptorists were founded in 1732.

Simply put, the first week of the Chapter is spent studying the progress and work of the Congregation over the last six years. The second week is spent seeing how we might better live our apostolic mission. During the third week, we elect the new Superior General and his Council to guide us over the next six years and in the fourth week we implement our decisions and decide what we want to say to our confreres back home.

A reality that is both a great blessing and a challenge is the great international make-up of the Redemptorists. We have 107 delegates here from 77 countries. There is a great richness to that, and the Congregation takes great joy in its missionary spirit.

However, the challenge of discussing complex topics in a variety of languages is very real. Every effort is made to allow confreres to speak and listen in a language in which they are comfortable. The official languages of the Chapter, for documents and so forth, are English, Spanish, and French.

At the same time, there are simultaneous translations in Polish, Portuguese, and Italian. It is amazing to me how many confreres speak more than one language. I envy them. This process of translation for clarity’s sake does slow the process down a bit, but is very important for the full participation of all confreres at the General Chapter.

The main topic we have been discussing this week is a form for reorganization of some of the structures of our Congregation. In addition to the present realities of our General Government, Provinces, Vice-Provinces, and Regions, a new reality of conferences would be added to our way of life.

A conference would be a level of governance that would exist between the General Government and the units of the Congregation. The conference would be based on geographic areas of the Redemptorists (i.e. North America, South America, and so on). The conference would have authority in some very limited areas, and would work primarily to help units of the Congregation focus on the mission, especially to the most abandoned.

Each conference would have a Coordinator who would have some limited authority in particular areas. Over the past 20 years or so in our Congregation, there has been a growing cohesion among the units of various continents. The conference model, while it does not change the provinces, does enable the Redemptorists to focus personnel and resources in particular areas that need the mission of the Congregation.

I now really appreciate the words “TGIF” since it means a free weekend.

Thank you for the prayers.


Father Pat Woods
Provincial Superior
Baltimore Province