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General Assembly Resolutions

Fr Rich AndreRich Andre, CSP
July 8, 2022

General Assembly Resolutions

The new administration of the Paulist Fathers was installed on June 7 in Washington, DC. For a week and a half after that, 31 Paulists met for the General Assembly – the highest deliberative body of our community, which determines the direction of the newly-elected administration for the next 4 years. You may recall that in late 2021, the Paulists held “pre-assembly” meetings, in which some Paulist collaborators and associates (including the Paulist Center’s own Patty Simpson and Barbara Lapinskas), and almost every living Paulist gave input to the upcoming General Assembly.

This week, we received the official documents produced by the General Assembly. It’s a lot to digest! Also, because so many of the issues intersect with one another, it’s easy to jump from topic to topic without plumbing the full depth of what the delegates debated for 10 days. Nevertheless, from my initial skimming of the documents, plus some insights from Charlie Martin, who was one of the 31 delegates, here are what I believe the Paulists identified as priorities for the next four years.

Synodality and Laity. The Assembly mandated that outside lay experts be consulted in determining the future of 6 national ministries: Paulist Press, Paulist Productions, Busted Halo, Paulist Evangelization Ministries, Paulist Reconciliation Ministries, and the Paulist Office of Ecumenical and Interfaith Relations. It recommended that a board of five lay people be consulted before each and every quarterly General Council meeting. The Assembly affirmed that “we are committed to encountering, accompanying, and entering into dialogue with the other —personified in our present times as those who are distant from the Catholic Church and its practice, and also those who have been relegated to the peripheries, including women, members of the LGBTQ+ community, those in their 20s and 30s, and people of color.”

Confronting Polarization. The toxicity of the polarization in our nation at this current time is contributing to a number of crises, including dissensions within families and friend groups, increasing acts of violence, and the illusion that our problems are intractable. The Assembly resolved to try to address polarization, while acknowledging that many calls for peace are in reality attempts to ignore injustices. The Assembly still found reasons to hope. “We remember that the namesake of our community, Saint Paul, originated as… a militant ideologue who believed he was doing God’s will through violence. Yet when Saul encountered and was transformed by Christ, he embraced a larger view of God’s world and God’s people.” In addition, many studies indicate that only 10-20% of people in the United States are ideologues, with the rest of the population holding positions of greater nuance, increasingly motivated to advocate for systemic change.

Good Governance. A number of resolutions regarded greater transparency and better financial mechanisms, including a mandate that the personnel manual for lay employees of the Paulist Fathers be “reviewed, updated, and promulgated.”

Nurturing Vocations and Caring for Our Older Paulist Brothers. In light of the success of the recent Hope for the Future campaign to raise financial capital, the Assembly resolved to conduct a similar campaign that raises vocational capital – asking our many friends to take a more active role in promoting vocations to the Paulist Fathers. The Assembly also called for clearer policies so that our elderly brothers can continue living in Paulist communities even as their health declines.

Spirituality. The Assembly made a number of recommendations to better promote the spirituality of Paulist founder Isaac Thomas Hecker in this time and place. It also added two more people to the list of our patron saints: Kateri Tekakwitha and Oscar Romero. While not mentioned explicitly in the document, both Tekakwitha and Romero are saints of color from the Western Hemisphere.

Granted, anyone can write resolutions; it is another venture entirely to get an entire community – especially one operating in a very decentralized manner – to act upon them. Nevertheless, I find hope in this paragraph that comes from the report written by the committee addressing toxic polarization:

We start this journey recognizing our own need for continued transformation, so we collectively ask the Holy Spirit for:

  • Wisdom – So that we may navigate the complexities and contradictions that can come with this effort;
  • Courage – So that we go to the places of hurt and danger in order to bring about the peace and justice that God desires;
  • Humility – So that we seek to do God’s work and not our own;
  • Understanding – So that our guide is always a fuller truth that goes beyond our preconceived notions;
  • Perseverance – So that we continue the race.

Almighty God, send out your Spirit, and renew the face of the earth!


Rev. Richard R. Andre, C. S. P.