The 31st General Chapter opened Wednesday at Casa Divin Maestro in Ariccia, Italy. The scenic retreat center is located just outside Rome and overlooking Lake Albano and Castel Gandolfo, the summer home of Pope Francis. In all, 40 delegates are assembled there for the next three weeks, as well as 20 support personnel.

Fr. Ron Hochman, left, and Fr. John Peeters, serving as translators

Among the support staff is Fr. John Peeters, CSV, who has served as a translator 13 times at the General Chapter. He first served as a translator at this important international gathering back in 1967.

His translation skills are vital as delegates spend this first week in prayer, listening and dialogue, in a communal discernment process designed to hear the promptings of the Holy Spirit. During the second two weeks delegates will respond to the 26 questions that constitute the agenda of the 31st General Chapter, before ultimately electing a new Superior General.

“We Viatorians announce that we are sent to proclaim Jesus Christ and to raise up communities where faith is lived, deepened and celebrated,” said Fr. Robert M. Egan, CSV, Superior General in his homily at Wednesday’s opening Mass. “We will reflect in the days ahead how we might deepen that mission and perhaps discover new ways to live out that charism in a world so in need of the Gospel message.”

Br. Jhobany Orduz proclaims the word of God.

Fr. Peeters shared his fluency in different languages soon after professing his first vows, in 1960. As a result, his years as a Viatorian have taken him literally around the world. He served as secretary to the Superior General in Rome from 1972-79, and later as Novice Master at Colegio San Viator in Bogotá, Colombia.

But the bulk of Fr. Peeter’s ministry has been in Viatorian parishes, from Kankakee and Springfield, to St. Viator Catholic Community in Las Vegas and even to St. Francis Xavier Parish in Corozal Town, Belize. He continues to serve as pastor of St. Patrick Church in Kankakee, which he has led since 2007, while also accompanying Fr. Egan on many international trips, as his translator.

Fr. Dan Hall and Br. Peter Lamick listen to the opening session through the translation of Fr. John Peeters.

In concluding his homily, Fr. Egan prayed for the intercession of the Holy Spirit to infuse delegates with the courage and energy to look to the future with a deep hope and trust in the collective discernment process over the next three weeks.

“We come from across the globe to bring our experience of Viatorian life and mission together,” Fr. Egan said, “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.”