By Matters India Reporter
Rome: An Indian has been reelected the superior general of the Montfort Brothers of St Gabriel, a 303-year-old Catholic religious congregation for men spread over all five continents.
Brother John Kallarackal was elected for another six-year term during the 32nd general chapter of the congregation now underway in Rome. Two other Indians too were elected to the five-member general team.
Vice general Brother Dionigi Tafferello is an Italian, while the first assistant general is Brother Jean Paul Mbengue from Senegal. The other two assistant generals are Indians — Brothers Pratap Reddy and T K James.
The general chapter that began on April 8 will end on April 28. The new general team and chapter delegates are scheduled to meet Pope Francis on April 27.
Around 50 delegates from 14 countries, representing the 1,127 Brothers and 123 Novices, are attending the chapter. The oldest delegate is 79-year-old, while the youngest 42. One delegate is attending the general chapter for the eighth time, while 18 are for the first time.
Dominican Father Jean Claude Lavigne is the facilitator for the chapter.
The chapter deliberated on challenges to education mission in the second decade of the second millennium. It decided to take the UN Sustainable Development Goals as a focal point in mission. The chapter also deliberated on the requirements of authentic religious life in the contemporary world.
In his opening address on April 9, Brother Kallarackal said the chapter’s principal mission was to protect the patrimony of the Institute while fostering appropriate renewal and adaptation. He reminded the delegate the need for fostering the congregation’s spiritual patrimony along with its material patrimony.
Bro Kallarackal was born on March 3, 1949, at Elavoor in Ernakulam archdiocese of Kerala. He joined the Apostolic School of the Montfort Brothers of St Gabriel at the age of 12 and finished high school from St Antony’s, Coonoor.
After his initial formation and university studies, he was engaged in the field of education in different institutions as teacher, principal, administrator and counselor. He is specialized in educational pedagogy and counseling.
He was elected an assistant general of the congregation in 2005. He was elected superior general on April 13, 2012, the first non-European to hold the post.
The Brothers of St Gabriel are present in mission in 33 countries all over the world, especially in the field of education. They are among the pioneers in the education of the hearing impaired. In India, the congregation has more than 200 schools, colleges, institutions for the hearing and visually impaired, institutes for human rights and sustainable development.
The superior general called for fostering renewal and adaptation by reading the signs of the times and facilitating growth with creative fidelity to the Montfortian charism.
He also noted increasing difficulties in maintain funds of the congregation because of stringent laws being enforced by various countries. More than 73 percent of the funds now come from what he termed were “aging western provinces.” He urged the provinces in Asia to assume greater responsibilities in raising funds and pooling resources to help their African counterparts.
Brother Kallarackal also stressed the need for rekindling the missionary dynamism of the congregation to recapture the heroic services of missionaries from France, Canada, Spain, Belgium and Italy who went as pioneers to Asia, Africa and South America. He also called for setting up international and intercultural communities to preserve the congregation in the west.