Fittingly, on Gaudete Sunday, or the third Sunday in Advent when the theme is one of rejoicing, Fr. Mark Francis, CSV, was installed as Provincial Superior of the Province of Chicago.
In laying out the many reasons for rejoicing, Fr. Francis started with the “servant leadership” for the last four years of Fr. Daniel Hall, CSV, from whom he is taking over.
“In many ways he practiced the steady, calm leadership that characterizes what could be called a Viatorian approach to ministry,” Fr. Francis said. “Far from blowing his own horn, he quietly went about serving the members of the province.”
Fr. Francis also compared the Viatorian style of ministry with that of John the Baptist, who was the subject of one of the readings. who came to prepare the way of the Lord.
“He never claimed to be more than a precursor—a kind of advance man,” Fr. Francis said, “facilitating the ability of people to recognize the Messiah, whose sandals he was not worthy to untie.”
In that same spirit of servant leadership, Fr. Francis drew back on the Venerable Fr. Louis Querbes, founder of the Viatorians.
“I have always been inspired by Querbes’ constant and persevering approach that, at a crucial moment in his life, he turned down ecclesiastical promotion in favor of a more humble service,” Fr. Francis said. “He opted to take a very un-prestigious assignment as pastor of an out of the way, rural parish in Vourles—a town that had supported the revolution and was not very kindly disposed toward the Church.
“He chose the path of humble service in unimpressive Vourles,” Fr. Francis added, “and the rest is history.”
Along with Fr. Francis, the newly elected Provincial Council was acknowledged. They include Fr. Edgar Suarez, CSV, of Bogotá, Fr. Thomas von Behren, CSV, of Las Vegas and Br. Michael Gosch, CSV, of Arlington Heights. Fr. Richard Rinn, CSV, of Las Vegas was unable to attend the service. He will serve as the new Assistant Provincial.
“As this new Provincial Council assumes its mandate on this rejoicing Sunday of Advent, we on the council pledge to help the province—professed and associates—to always focus on this mission given to us,” Fr. Francis said in conclusion, “to proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ and raise up communities where the faith is lived, deepened and celebrated.”