European meeting of Scholastics in Vienna
The scholastics of the Austrian, Bavarian, Poland, Portuguese and Spanish Provinces met in Vienna on 26 August - 2 September, 2018.
Scholastics Meetings form part of a long-standing tradition in the Provinces of Central Europe. The first was held in 1981 attended by the Provinces of Austria and Bavaria. and the Rhineland Province (which no longer exists). In 1988 the Polish Province joined them, and in 2013 the Provinces of Portugal and Spain attended. In addition to the Scholastics, their Formators were also present at these meetings.
“The Scholastics Meeting has a twofold purpose,” explained Brother Seraphim Schorer, the Scholastics Master at the Austrian and Bavarian Interprovincial Scholasticate in Regensburg. “The first purpose is to foster mutual acquaintanceship and exchanges between the participants, and the second is to provide formation, namely, to enable them to concentrate on a number of specific matters”.
At this year’s meeting, for the first time, there were no external speakers because the scholastics animated and moderated the meeting themselves. “We had decided at the last meeting to let the scholastics themselves choose and animate the issues that interested them,” explained Brother Seraphi.” Each language group therefore animated part of the meeting.
The first day was devoted to becoming acquainted with one another, and to a visit to the community of the Brothers of St John of God Hospital in Vienna. This was followed by a city tour.
The second day was animated by the German-speaking group on the theme “Tension-Relaxation”. The purpose was to analyse the way in which a Brother of St John of God can manage to balance his day joyfully by regenerating himself without burning up his energy. “This is an important issue for scholastics,” said Brother Seraphim. “Because after the novitiate, in which everything is laid down and planned quite easily for everyone, the scholastics have to learn how to manage their time and to organise their life autonomously.” In the morning the scholastics also had the opportunity to reflect personally on this aspect of their lives and in the afternoon they pooled their experiences in common. The conclusions of the day’s work were then summarised and acted out in dramatic performances.
On the third day, with the Polish group animated the work, concentrating on the relationship between the young Brothers and God. They spoke of the positive aspects and the difficulties that scholastics encounter. “It was very interesting to see how this issue is so similar throughout Europe,” said Brother Seraphim.
This fourth day was entirely focused on Saint John of God, animated by the Portuguese group. Each group wrote a letter to the Founder of the Order and them replied to another group, trying to imagine how our Father might have replied.
On Friday, 31 August, the group went on an excursion to the Wachau Valley run through by the River Danube and one of the most beautiful places in Europe. On the final day, Saturday, 1 September, the first General Councillor, Brother Rudolf Knopp spoke to the young Brothers about the preparations for the forthcoming General Chapter of the Order which will be held early next year.
The meeting adjourned on on Sunday, 2 September.