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Dear Brothers and Sisters,
The Plenary General Council, gathered in Arusha (Tanzania), was pleased to validate the statutes of the future vice-province of East Africa. Three countries — Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania— will benefit from this new structure 30 years after the first community was established in Nairobi (Kenya), spearheaded by the Provinces of England and North America. The Assumption is developing in this part of the world and is assuming its part of the mission to hasten the coming of the Kingdom.
During this meeting, we also reflected on our older foundations, especially our fragile presence in the Near East (‘Mission d ‘Orient’) and, in particular, in Istanbul, Turkey. Will the long history of the Assumption on Turkish soil have a future? After departing from Ankara in 2000— with the transfer of our house to the Jesuits— the community of Istanbul is the last witness of our presence in Turkey. But the community is very fragile and beginning this coming autumn it risks being reduced to one active religious.
What is to be done? Are we willing and able to pursue our mission in this land of Islam? Are we interested in cultivating our relations with the Ecumenical Patriarchate? Are we ready to respond to the appeals of the men and women of Turkey who seek in Christianity the meaning of their existence?
The PGC is launching an appeal to all religious and lay-people in the Assumption so that each of us may listen to that to which the Spirit is calling us and to discern the possibility of responding to this request.
In the short-term, is it possible to free someone, a religious or a member of the Lay Alliance, to support our presence there for a year?
That would give us a little more time to study new avenues for the future, at the Assumption or with other Congregations or Church movements.
In the long-term, is there a brother or several who would accept to be prepared to work over the long haul in this Turkish world at the service of interreligious dialogue and of a modest Christian population?
We would ask you to reflect on these requests and to share your reflections with those in authority in your province. The Council will take your remarks, proposals, and suggestions under consideration to help it make progress on its discernment, which will be a major agenda item at its meeting in December of this year.
Today the eyes of the Assumption are clear regarding its capacity to maintain its presence in this or that part of the world. We are aware of the changes in the world and we know that we must adapt to new times. However, Fr. d’Alzon demanded boldness on our part. Together let us discern where it is that God wishes us to work for his Kingdom.
The members of the Plenary General Council
Arusha, June 11, 2018