After a three-year hiatus due to the pandemic, the Provincial Assembly opened Wednesday in the Bourbonnais/Kankakee region and the more than 60 Viatorians who attended were thrilled.

Br. John Eustice and Associate Ken Barrie look over details of the strategic planning.

“It’s so good to be together,” said Associate Ken Barrie, who works in youth ministry at St. Patrick Church in Kankakee. “Sometimes we feel we’re alone in our ministry, so it’s good to see others of like mind and who want to go forward and serve.”

One of the newest associates, Jason Kuffel, who attended Saint Viator High School and now serves as athletic director, described his feelings this way: “I feel the spirit of the Viatorians alive in all our conversations.”

Typically, the annual Provincial Assembly takes place each summer and draws associates, brothers and priests together as one family. But it also offers a time to examine issues important to the Viatorian Community. This year, the gathering looked inward as members reflected on racism during the opening day, before continuing the process of strategic planning on the second day.

Associate Hector Obregon-Luna, left, helps translate for Fr. Gustavo Lopez.

As they heard from speakers and broke out into small groups, they kept these pillars of the Viatorian Community at the center of their discussions: faith, inclusion, collaboration, community and justice.

“There have been a lot of good conversations,” said Associate Hector Obregon-Luna of Chicago, “and good topics.”

Members came from Arlington Heights, Bourbonnais, Chicago, Kankakee, Las Vegas, and even Bogotá and Tunja, Colombia for the assembly. Each day opened with a prayer service, aimed at opening everyone up to new ideas and hearing the word of God. A full day of meetings followed, with Mass at the end of both days.

“It’s wonderful to see many of the Viatorians that I haven’t been able to see for several years — and to listen to all of these ideas. It’s motivating,” said Fr. Pedro Herrera, CSV, who came from Tunja, Colombia.

The assembly brought together Viatorians of all ages, including Associate Jason Wilhite, left, and Fr. Donald Wehnert.

Associate Rosy Hartz, of Las Vegas, summed it up this way: “It enhances our faith to see all of the similarities we have with each other, just knowing that we’re all Viatorian.”

Br. Rob Robertson, CSV, a member of the Provincial Council, added: “Coming together strengthens us as a community.”