Our third day of Chapter continued with proposals, some of which gave birth to some very lively discussions among the friars. Discussions like these can be very intense and challenging to moderate, but Jim Kent, our Minister Provincial, has a gift for making sure that everyone is heard. Some proposals needed to be re-worked and re-submitted to the delegates; one was withdrawn so that more information could be gathered with the intention of a similar proposal being made at an extra-ordinary chapter.
The afternoon brought us to the election of Guardians (local superiors) of the Friaries of the province and the chairmen of the various province commissions. Guardians are nominated by the Minister Provincial, but they must be approved by the Chapter. When a person is elected, the Secretary of the Province, Friar Nicholas Wolfla, asks the person if he is willing to serve as Guardian or
Commission Chairman for the next four years. If the Friar consents, then Jim Kent announces that the friar is duly elected and may take full possession of his office. When a Friar is elected, but is not present, he must be contacted by phone; this can make for some interesting scenarios. In one case, a Friar returned the call to Nick and Nick asked him to be Chairman of the wrong commission; something that the Chapter delegates quickly corrected him. (All this is taking place on speakerphone, so if the NSA was listening, they probably thought, “Who are these crazy people?”)
Friends have asked me if I would ever like to serve in an elected office, such as Definitor, Guardian, Commission Chair, and my standard answer is, “I couldn’t be elected dog catcher [my apologies to those dedicated men and women in animal control].” Well, on Wednesday, my premise was blown to bits as I was proposed to serve as Chairman of the Continuing Formation and Education Commission. Not only was I proposed, but I was elected! This Commission plans province retreats, reviews requests for funding for continuing education or sabbatical opportunities for the Friars, and works with the Minister Provincial and Definitiory to provide opportunities for continuing education and formation among the friars. After my election, the Friar sitting next to me said, “You know, I was wondering who Jim was going to ask to take this Commission over, and when I saw your name, Bob, I thought ‘He’s a good choice.'” Thanks to my brothers for the vote of confidence.
After Dinner, Friar Wayne Hellmann gave Friar Paul Clark and myself a tour of the Chapel that is under construction. I asked Wayne if I could video it and he graciously agreed. The video should be appearing on our province website. I have to admit, it was a little dicey folllowing Wayne around the construction site; I had to keep my eyes on the LCD screen AND be conscious of any spots where i might trip — I came close to a couple of times, but managed to stay upright.
At Evening Prayer, the Guardians of the province were formally installed. Because of the nature of their office, they are required to make a public Profession of Faith, which they did as a group after the reading at Evening Prayer.
We meet tomorrow morning to review and hopefully endorse the changes to our Strategic Plan and then all of us will depart home. Fr. Steve and I have a 220 mile drive to the Albuquerque airport awaiting us. Please pray that we arrive in time to make our flights. I wonder if the road construction on CTY 44 will have started?