There are only two elected positions at the Viatorians’ General Chapter going on this month in Rome: the Director of the Program and Director of Community Life. For the second time, Fr. Thomas von Behren, CSV, has been elected as the Chapter’s Director of Community Life, while Br. Jean-Marc St. Jacques, CSV, Provincial Superior of Canada, was elected to serve as Director of the Program.

Br. Jean-Marc St. Jacques and Fr. Tom von Behren

The 40 delegates have come from all over the world and speak multiple languages — English, French and Spanish — but they found common ground in electing these two leaders.

“It’s basically a ministry of service to the community,” Fr. von Behren says. “It is an honor to be of service to this international group.”

Actually, this is the second time Fr. von Behren has served in this capacity — during his five successive times attending the Chapter. He was elected as the Director of Community Life at the last Chapter, in 2018, when it took place on the grounds of Chicago’s major seminary, University of St. Mary of the Lake in Mundelein, IL.

As Director of Community Life, Fr. von Behren’s duties are to facilitate community life during the chapter. Those run the gamut, from attending to individual needs — diet, personal items and health concerns — and organizing social celebrations for Chapter members and support staff; to serving as the spokesperson between the Chapter delegates and the retreat center in Ariccia, where they are staying.

Fr. Thomas von Behren, first row, right, in 2018, has attended every General Chapter since 2000.

The General Chapter is mid-way through the three-week meeting. So far, delegates have spent time in prayer, listening and dialogue, in a communal discernment process designed to hear the promptings of the Holy Spirit.

The second two weeks are designed to allow delegates to respond to the 26 questions that constitute the agenda of the 31st General Chapter, as submitted by Viatorian Provinces and Foundations around the world. Ultimately, they will vote to elect a new Superior General.

“We come from across the globe to bring our experience of Viatorian life and mission together,” Fr. Robert M. Egan, CSV, Superior General said in his opening liturgy, “and to share the hope that the founding vision of Fr. Querbes will continue to grow and flourish in those places that the Lord calls us to minister and witness.”