It is good to be back in Austin. For 12 days I was in Washington DC at the Paulist seminary, St. Paul’s College, participating in the Paulist General Council. This “general chapter” of the Paulist order, which happens once every four years, deliberates on the state of the community and sets priorities and directions for the next four years. It was a good meeting.
First of all it was good to re-connect with many of the Paulists. Thirty-one delegates to the General Assembly were there, as well as several Paulists stationed in DC, plus the four Paulist novices. It was good to see and chat with novice Evan Cummings who you may remember was with us during this past Lent.
We had a presentation from our community treasurer, a sobering and challenging morning. We passed statements on the topics of Conversion and Mission. The document titled “Radical Paulist Conversion” states: “As Paulists we are called to the Roman Catholic priesthood within the Missionary Society of St. Paul the Apostle. This call comes from the Spirit of God and not from ourselves. To answer the Spirit’s call requires every Paulist to experience an ongoing, inner conversion: a deepening of faith that grows throughout our life and ministry.”
We also passed a statement on mission. Both of these documents are short, less than two pages. If you would like to read them and see how the Paulists see themselves at this particular juncture in history, you can find them on our parish website at www.staustin.org.
The Paulists are in the process of selling St. Paul’s College in Washington, DC. Designed for 40 or more students, the building is killing us financially. It costs over $400,000 a year in salaries and utilities to operate the building. While we were gathered there, several prospective buyers came through to view the building. This will be a big change for our community, but I believe a better one as we “right-size” our formation program.
We also did some more practical items such as re-arranging our election procedures, provide a clearer path for retired Fathers to remain involved and active, moved forward on issues of “branding” (i.e., giving ourselves a more consistent and clearer public image) and enacted measures to revive and promote the Paulist Associates.
Given the time, effort and expense, the resulting product of the General Assembly may seem small. It does to me. But the results of this meeting will be played out over the next four years, and we won’t know the real success or failure of this gathering until we see how this all proceeds.
I ask you to please keep the Paulists in your prayers. Continue to pray for vocations to the Paulists and to the religious life. On a more personal note I ask for your prayers as I have cataract surgery on my left eye on Tuesday, June 24. Thanks.