brotherguy (brotherguy) wrote,

Province Congregation

I've spent the last few days in the US, attending my province congregation. On the thought that the nuts-and-bolts working of a religious order might be of general interest (perhaps to fantasy writers who want to have a realistic inside look into a medieval governance structure), let me explain a bit of what this involved.

Every few years, each province holds a Province Congregation. From my province, about 50 delegates were elected, or appointed, or attend ex-officio, to represent the 500 men in the province; I was one of those elected. So on Sunday, I flew from Rome to Baltimore. (Meanwhile, one of our astronomers who lives in Tucson was flying to Prague for his province's congregation.)

The next day I arrived at a retreat house in the southern counties of Maryland, not far from where the first Jesuits arrived into the British colonies on the Ark and the Dove in 1634 (back when it was illegal for a Jesuit to be in Britain). As we had come from all over the province, and the world, this was definitely "old home week"; there were a number of my old novice classmates in the group, some of whom I hadn't seen for 20 years. Boy, they all sure look older... unlike me, of course.

We had three orders of business: to elect delegates to a gathering of representatives from all the provinces, which will be held in Africa this summer; to vote if it was the sense of the province that we need to call a General Congregation (usually only held to elect a new General, or handle urgent world-wide business; we did not see such a need at this time); and to discuss among ourselves the state of the province. 

In fact we got through our business ahead of schedule, so I have been able to spend a few days in Washington DC, as well, running errands (I sent off a meteorite to a colleague, for instance) and seeing movies. (Thumbs up for Hugo, which was the first use of 3D that seemed worth it, had great performances, and a story with a heart; thumbs down for Tintin, which I found well-made but soulless... one of those pointless adventures where there's no reason at the end of the day to say that the "good guys" were any more worthy than the bad guys...)

Sunday night I fly back to Rome.

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