THE SUPERIORS (No. 2)
Here we are on the second encounter, even if quickly, to speak about the role of the Superiors. As we are convinced that to reach the proposed goal, together with the brothers, it should be necessary to allow ourselves to be guided by the precise norms (Rule and Constitutions, etc . . .), equally we believe that the figure of a ‘responsible’ should be indispensable that as presented in the Rule: “It will be the special task of the Superior to have all these norms observed ( . . . ). He should offer himself to all as an example of good works; moderate the turbulent; encourage the timid; sustain the weak; be patient to all. He should, with love, maintain the discipline, and impose respect towards it . . .” (45 e 46).
In the tradition of the old religious Orders - of which we take part - without taking anything from the authority that the Superiors have received from God through the ministry of the Church (cfr can. 618), the service of legislating and administering is exercised, above all by the Chapters to which they should participate, accordingly to the norms of the Constitutions, some chosen religious (deputies) elected by the brothers.
To safeguard the unity of an institute and to make the communion among its components grow, there is the Prior General, called in the Code of Canon Law – Supreme Moderator – and of which the Constitutions nos. 206-214 deal with, who is helped by the Definitory and the Council with the duties and the faculties of which are dealt with in nos. 206-213.
For the Institute to be able to be governed with facility, it is then divided into districts called “Provinces” that are guided by Superiors and their proper Chapters which are always in strict contact and collaboration with the general government. A Province comes erected by the General Chapter (cfr Const. no. 126).
Either the Prior General or the Provincial, they are called major superiors and enjoy some faculties given to the Ordinaries by the Code of Canon Law. They, for example, can permit admissions to the Holy Orders.
To be able to constitute more houses and communities in a Province, it is necessary to have a congruous number of religious of which they should be in a position of adequately providing for the needs required for the initial and permanent formation of aspirants, novices, professed, adult religious; for their maintenance; for the conduction of pastoral and ministerial works and activities.
Historically, the Order of the Discalced Augustinians had been divided in various Provinces in Italy and Germany. Today, the Provinces are three: the Province of Italy (as of May 2011: 14 houses, 42 religious) that reunites the three preexistent Provinces, as decided by the General Chapter of 1999; the Province of Brazil (as of May 2011: 11 houses, 69 religious, 43 priests) constituted during the General Chapter of 1999; and the Province of the Philippines, constituted during the General chapter of 2005 (as of May 2011: 5 houses, 100 religious, 50 priests).
When a Province, for various motives, is no longer in a position of fully satisfying the various obligations and tasks, loses part of its autonomy and is ruled as a “commissariat regime”. This was the situation before the various old Provinces of Italia had been unified. There is also the opposite proceeding: before an erected Province could operate according to the norm of the Constitutions, a gradual journey that leads to the provincial government through the commissariat regime is expected as delimited by the Constitutions nos. 254-265. It has been so for Brazil and of which the communities in the Philippines are being prepared.
For us, it seems to be useful to reaffirm that the major autonomy enjoyed first with the Commissariat regime then with that of the provincial should not bring to independence and much less to the separation with regard to the other communities of the Order but should rather increment the communication, the collaboration and the communion.
Thank you for your attention and have a fruitful work!
In behalf of the Definitory General,
Fr. Angelo Grande
1st Definitor and Vicar General