The General Chapter is the highest governing body of a congregation –in our case, the Institute of the Brothers of the Sacred Heart. Its function is to elect the Superior General and his Councilors, as well to make decisions and give orientations for the whole institute. Generally the General Chapters are held every six years. The next Chapter of the Brothers of the Sacred Heart will be next May in Rome.
49 Brothers from all over the world will participate, plus the auxiliary personnel such as translators. Of these 49 Brothers, 23 are considered members ex officio (13 provincial superiors, 3 superior of delegations and 7 members of the general administration) and 26 are elected members (elected specially for the chapter by their Provinces of Delegations). The number of elected members of each province depends on the number of Brothers it has.
For this Chapter, a motivating biblical phrase has been chosen: “I have come to bring fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled!” (Luke 12:49). THis is one of the phrases from the Word of God that we most identify with our Founder, Father André Coindre.
In addition, a logo has been specially drawn for this General Chapter, designed by Brother Anicet Paulin (Province of Oceania). This is how he explains it to us: “In the foreground there are figures of young people of different colours, full of life, in movement. The colours, the silhouettes, and the cross allow us to see the distinctive sign of the Brothers of the Sacred Heart. It is a cross with an open heart, symbol of a religious life. Our presence among the youth is meaningful because of a heart pedagogy. The golden cross shows us the inestimable treasure of the love of Christ and the richness of the call we have received. All this stands out against a green background that spreads in all directions. It is the colour of hope, the fruit of a shared life-giving charism.”
Before every General Chapter, a committee chooses some basic guidelines and arranges a series of preparatory works so that the whole Institute can participate in it. On this occasion, there are four central topics:
- An interpellant religious life.
- An adapted initial and permanent formation.
- A significant presence among the youth.
- A shared, life-giving charism.
Let us ask the Holy Spirit to enlighten especially the Brothers that will participate in this chapter, so that they know how to listen to His motions and help us to follow the steps of Jesus and the desires of His heart.