The Commission of Studies on the Founder and his Works (CEFO) because of the pandemic was not able to meet. Thanks to the modern means of communication it carried out a meeting via zoom on Saturday 26 February. All members participated.
Father José-Antonio, on behalf of the General Council, addressed a message to the CEFO, underlining the importance of this Commission. Its work is appreciated by the General Council, though perhaps not yet at the level of our Congregations.
The agenda had two main points: an assessment of the work carried out by the CEFO during the years 2017–2022; and a reflection on the perspectives about the CEFO’s work in the coming years.
- Assessment of the work carried out by the CEFO during the years 2017–2022
In response to the requests of the General Council, the CEFO had drawn up a formation path in order to get to know Father Eymard better.
- The Superior General of the Servants, Sister Fe, designated two religious to begin this task, which recently began by the means available of distance communication. Father Manuel accompanies this formation.
- Fathers Manuel and Thaddée had prepared a formation session on the writings of Father Eymard and the use of the website for the scholastics of the Kinshasa scholasticate (DRC). Unfortunately, due to covid, this session did not take place. On the other hand, there were three days of specific SSS formation before Christmas 2021, by means of zoom.
- The Centre of Spirituality “Eymard” in La Mure is at present carrying out a work of sensitising and dissemination related to Father Eymard’s feasts or important dates. This work is done in collaboration with the shrines of Laus, La Salette, Fourvière, with the parishes and with radio stations.
The CEFO had also responded to the request to provide information and proposals about living the time devoted to Adoration, especially for First Formation.
Father Josè-Antonio reported that Father Agostinho, who is responsible for the Formation Commission, had collected the work done by Father Fiorenzo and with the Formation Commission was in the course of trying to find the best way to send it to our young people in formation.
During these years the CEFO has continued the work of publishing selected texts of Father Eymard, in French, Italian and English.
Father Fiorenzo drew attention to the seven titles that have been published in the “Bread for the journey” collection. These books are available in print and also on the website of the Centro Eucaristico (Italy), in e-book form .
Apropos this, several aspects were emphasised..
- There is a weakness in the communication and distribution of these volumes.
- A positive aspect was that the English translation opened a window of opportunity. In the Philippines the books were given to lay people who began to discover an interest in Father Eymard, especially thanks to the book “Counsels of Spiritual Life” which presented a more human image of Father Eymard as closer to people.
- In France the distribution is very limited, since the groups of Eucharistic fraternities are not numerous. Insofar as the books were printed in Italy without being partnered by a French publishing house, this does not facilitate distribution.
- Certain texts by Father Eymard cannot be presented today.
- The Centre of Spirituality “Eymard” in La Mure has received all the volumes which were distributed in communities and in bookstores.
Father Fiorenzo explained that it was the General Curia which requested the Centro Eucaristico in Italy to print the books, all approaches to several publishing houses having failed. The General House is the depot where all the books are kept and sees to the distribution.
The CEFO has responded to the Eymard family’s request to have Father Eymard’s texts made available in order to learn about his spirituality. It has endeavoured to adapt and present Father Eymard’s thought for today with all the limits that we know. The basic source that should always be consulted is the edition of the Complete Works.
It pertains to all the members of the Eymard family to make known and spread the thought of Father Eymard. The role of the CEFO is at the level of carrying out a work of study.
- Reflection on the perspectives about the CEFO’s work in the coming years (work sites), considering the needs of the Eymardian family and the eucharistic mission
The CEFO has wished to provide the General Councils and the next General Chapters some paths to foster reflection. Several suggestions were made:
- In 2024 we celebrate the fortieth anniversary of the Rule of Life (1984). Texts of Father Eymard could be sought, where possible, as related to the content of numbers of the Rule.
- A sound method must be found in approaching the writings of Father Eymard so as to interest young people. For example, regarding God’s love, adoration, etc. The book “Counsels for Spiritual Life” is an example of a successful approach.
- What is needed is to find topical themes, for example, synodality, the Eucharist and the social dimension, ecology. Some texts by Father Eymard can nourish humankind, the human comprising spirit, soul and body; the Eucharist understood in its totality; the issue concerning the dignity of women and their role in the Church.
Among the Varia, Father Guitton proposed a work regarding the contribution of Marist editions as a complement to the edition of the Complete Works of Father Eymard. Correspondence received, particularly that from Father Colin, Father Favre, and Father Poupinel, can help to get to know Father Eymard as a Marist better.
On 22 May 2022 Pauline Jaricot will be beatified, Father Guitton has offered to do a piece of research on the relationship of the new Blessed with Father Eymard.
We ended the meeting aware of the work accomplished, some new perspectives opening up.
There is a mission that will have to be entrusted to the new CEFO after the celebration of the General Chapters.
On behalf of the CEFO,
Father Manuel Barbiero, sss