27th April 2003
W E L C O M E
Welcome to Avila, the birthplace of our holy Mother, Teresa of Jesus.
Welcome, as you come to take part in our 89th ordinary General
General Chapters happen repeatedly in the life of religious Institutes and
can be looked at from various points of vies.
There is an historical perspective that looks at General Chapters
as part of the life and makeup of a religious Institute in order to give
continuity in a history which continues needing to confront challenges
that come with the passage of time.
Another viewpoint is a juridical one: The General Chapter is a
meeting prescribed by the Constitutions for electing new General
Superiors and their Councils and for taking decisions at an Order-wide
We can also find a human aspect to the General Chapter: every
human group needs to pause every so often, to weigh-up what has been done,
and to see what remains to be done.
All these viewpoints are important and necessary, but in my opening
greetings I wish to present you with a viewpoint that unites all these and
gives them a new dimension more in accord with our status as believers and
religious. I am referring to the perspective of faith.
From this faith perspective, the General Chapter appears as the Lord
passing through our history in order to invite us to conversion and to a
renewing of the experience of his presence and companionship. Setting out
from this angle, the Chapter can and ought to be an experience:
of God as Truth: in sincere fraternal and open dialogue
searching for his ways for our Order at the present time;
of God as Light: in prayerful discernment, for taking decisions
and for widening the horizons of the life of the Teresian Carmel at the
beginning of the Third Millennium;
of God as Peace, who makes our identity possible in variety and
of God as Human, who sought to be incarnated in our nature, to
help us discover his presence also in human mediation.
Welcome brothers, to this General Chapter. Let us try to live it from
this faith perspective in its five stages: spiritual preparation,
reports, elections, discussions and decision making. May it be for
all of us an opportunity for growth in dialogue and communion, so that the
charism of Teresa of Jesus and John of the Cross becomes alive and present
at this beginning of a new millennium which we wish to face, setting out
from this eminently Teresian place, Avila.
P. Camilo Maccise OCD
May Mary, our Mother, who accompanied the disciples in prayer in
preparation for receiving the Holy Spirit, stay close to us in these three
weeks and help us to perceive the presence of the Holy Spirit in this, our
89th General Chapter.