Secular Institutes : A Frontier Vocation

From August 24th to 28th, the General Assembly of the World Conference of Secular Institutes (CMIS) took place in Rome. This one had been postponed for two years because of the pandemic. But this year, nearly a hundred participants from 22 countries gathered at the Passionist Fathers' retreat house to experience this important event.

On August 25, the participants of the assembly went to the consistory hall in the Vatican where a meeting with the Holy Father took place. After words of greeting from the president, Ms. Jolanta Szpilarewicz, Pope Francis reminded the members of the secular institutes, “Your vocation is a frontier vocation (…) And yet your vocation opens up new ways.”

He continued by telling them, “I encourage you to make secularity present in the Church with affability, without demands, but rather with determination and with that authority that comes from service. Let your service be that of the seed, the service of leaven, the hidden and at the same time obvious service that knows how to die in events – even ecclesial ones – so that they change from within and bear good fruit. Listen to the Holy Spirit with docility to understand how to make your works more and more effective, even taking new paths that make visible the richness you have.”

The next day, Daniela Leggio of the Dicastery for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life presented a magisterial conference entitled “On Synodality, the Authority of Service”. This experience of service invites us to develop synodality, welcoming diversity and freedom as paths that lead to freedom. “This is what is given to you so that you may walk together with everyone in the good and for the good. To follow in the footsteps of the Master, we need this willingness to accept his Word, we need to ask in prayer to break down our resistance and those filters that we activate to continue on our path instead of walking on his. To listen to Jesus, who brings the truth, we must have the courage of the truth.”

This was followed by a time of exchange in linguistic groups during which the participants were able to share, based on the interpellation received, the implications that this could have for the formation and organization of our secular institutes. This time of exchange allowed us to share our experiences and the different calls of adaptation to which the new realities invite us in this time of change.

Following the different reports of activities of the last years, the members of the general assembly of the CMIS proceeded to the election of the members of the new executive council for the mandate 2022-2026. Ms. Elba Catalina Fleita, from Argentina living in Brazil, will preside over CMIS for the next few years. She will be accompanied by 8 other people – including Father Marcel Caron of the Pius X Secular Institute – from Italy, Spain, France, Burundi, Slovakia, the Dominican Republic and Canada. We wish this new Executive Council a good mission!

The General Assembly concluded with the approval of a statement marking the desire of members of secular institutes to have the courage to prophesy in the midst of the realities of our world. The text of the statement is available at the following link:

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