A sense of joy and reunion permeated the opening of the annual Provincial Assembly Tuesday, held this year at Saint Viator High School. Associates, brothers and priests came from  Arlington Heights, Bourbonnais, Chicago, Houston, Kankakee, Las Vegas, McHenry, as well as from Bogotá and Tunja, in Colombia — and all as one Viatorian Community.

Associate David Surprenant and Br. Jhobany Orduz greet one another.

“The assembly is an important part of Viatorian life,” said Fr. Mark Francis, CSV, Provincial, in welcoming the more than 70 people. “Coming together fortifies our relationships and friendships, but we also come together in a prayerful way to move forward in the mission of the community.”

The annual Provincial Assembly also offers a time to examine issues important to current religious communities. In particular this year, the community will explore synodality, in response to Pope Francis’ request that all Catholics participate in this two year synod process.

“The word ‘synod’ means to walk together, or to journey together,” says Dr. Amanda Osheim, Associate Professor of Practical Theology at Loras College, and the assembly’s featured speaker. “Synodality is more of a way of being church together. It is a way of reflecting prayerfully with one another on our faith and how we are living out that faith in the world around us.”

(L-R) Fr. Gustavo Lopez, Br. Carlos Florez and Fr. Fredy Contreras

Each day opens with a prayer service — aimed at opening everyone up to new ideas and hearing the word of God. A full day of meetings follows, with Mass at the end of both days.

Tuesday’s opening Mass included the recommitments of several associates, including Christine Gucwa, and Ann and Christopher Perez, who all recommitted themselves to the Viatorian mission for another five years. Another five associates made definitive commitments as Viatorians. They included: Julie Baker, Faith Dussman, Hector Obregon-Luna and Jim and Joan Thomas.

Front row, (L-R) Chris Gucwa and Ann Perez; Back row: Julie Baker, Fr. Mark Francis, Joan and Jim Thomas, Hector Obregon-Luna and Christopher Perez

During Mass, Fr. Francis compared being associates to Christian discipleship and evangelization, adding that, “Today our associates are pledging to engage in learning about Jesus in the context of the Viatorian Community. We welcome them with great joy.”