Tuesday, May 22, 2007

May 22 - Reports of Theme Groups

Today was one of those all-work days at the Chapter. From 9 AM until 6:15 PM the group met in the Aula Magna to listen to the reports from the Theme Groups and to respond with questions of clarification or to provide comments, insights, questions, and objections so that the groups could work on their second drafts. It could have been deadly for anyone who wasn't interested in the topics. Speaker after speaker made an intervention or a comment or asked a question. I brought in my laptop and did some multi-tasking, working on some documents for the district while the discussion was going on. I found that I could turn my ear phones down to minimal and concentrate on both the conversation and the other things that I was trying to do. If some interesting topic came up, I would just pause for a bit and concentrate on the discussion. Otherwise, I got a good amount of work done.

This morning, when I came into the communications office, I found Sr. Margaret and Br. Lorenzo doing their morning devotions in front of the secretariat copier. (Actually, they were changing the toner cartridge, but it was a great picture anyway.) Many is the day when I've similarly knelt at the gods of technology to fix some computer or copier problem. It's rather striking how dependent we've become on these innovations which, as helpful as they are, do demand the occasional sacrifice of time and energy just for themselves.

At lunch we celebrate the birthday of Br. Jose Bialon Gallego from South America. His middle name sounds as if it should come from Middle Earth and Lord of the Rings. We sang Happy Birthday in English and had cake and champagne. I must say that the cake here is very good - very light, with some sort of pudding filling. (By the way, I'm still working on the four cookies that Roch bought at a bakery in Assisi, stretching them out over the various coffee breaks. They were quite pricey, but to me they're worth every Euro.)

The afternoon sessions went on as planned. I arrived a bit late because the siesta I took went about 20 minutes longer than planned (Siestas are increasingly becoming good things). But I plugged right into the conversation. The "Government" theme group was presenting, and their report was very organized, clear, and straight-forward. There were questions, of course, but Br. Jacque D'Huiteau did an excellent job of answering the questions and presenting the group's conclusions. No big surprises but some significant considerations for the future government at the Motherhouse level.

Today, we had a morning prayer and Mass in the evening. This was in response to a request from Br. Alvaro that we have a couple of days when we could have prayer in the morning and Mass in the evening. It was okay to make the change, but of course there were a couple of folks who didn't agree with it. Change is always difficult...

After dinner we had our Central Commission meeting, but it was kept relatively short. It looks as if we will have to work into tomorrow afternoon. However, the option is there for groups to take a break on Thurday afternoon, if they have finished their work.

Translations continue to be a bit of an obstacle. People in various languages pick up nuances from the translations that are either inaccurate, unacceptable, or problematic. Lots of clarification questions address these nuances. I hadn't realized before what differences in interpretation are introduced with changes in translations. There's no easy answer to this; just vigilance.

After the meeting, I spent a little while with the English language group evening social and then came to the office to do the blog and turn in.
More picture from today at http://picasaweb.google.com/gvangrie/ItalyMay22