It happens only once every six years.

Fr. Pat Render, foreground, and members of the Viatorian Community Council meet with Fr. Alain Ambeault, Superior General, second from right

That’s how often Fr. Alain Ambeault, CSV, Viatorian Superior General and his General Council members are mandated by the community’s bylaws to make a pastoral visit to each province.

They opened their visit to the Chicago Province on Monday by meeting with Fr. Mick Egan, CSV, provincial superior and members of the Provincial Council. Next, they headed to Saint Viator High School and that night met with associate and professed members of the Arlington Heights region.

Accompanying Fr. Ambeault were Fr. Harry Célestin, Vicar General and a native of Haiti, and Br. Carlos Ernesto Flórez, General Councilor and a native of Colombia now living in Las Vegas.

(L-R) Fr. Alain Ambeault, Superior General, meet with Mr. Brian Liedlich, president of Saint Viator High School, along with Fr. Harry Célestin, Vicar Genera, Br. Carlos Flórez, General Councilor and Fr. Dan Hall, Vice President of SVHS

“It’s a pastoral visit, where we get to know the province better and understand what the challenges are,” Fr. Ambeault said. “It’s our chance to re-discover and confirm how the charism and mission of the congregation is being carried out.”

Fr. Ambeault recalled that six years ago, he shadowed Fr. Mark Francis, CSV, the former Superior General during his pastoral visit. Fr. Francis now is president of Catholic Theological Union, while Fr. Ambeault has overseen the move of the General Direction offices to Vourles, France, from Rome.

“Things change,” Fr. Ambeault said. “With a new council in place, there’s a whole new leadership team. We come in with an open mind and are eager to hear what people want to share.”

The entire visit will take two weeks. Next up, Fr. Ambeault and the council members will visit St. Viator Parish in Chicago as well as the Viatorian parishes in Bourbonnais and Kankakee, before heading west to Henderson and Las Vegas to see Viatorians in action there.

“It’s a long process,” Fr. Ambeault says, “but it gives us time to reflect. Ultimately, we come up with a pastoral letter which focuses on what we have observed and perhaps some small suggestions for the future.”