SAN FELICE CIRCEO, ITALY –– The 30th Provincial Chapter of the Roman Province of the Order of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mercy has entered its final phase after seven days of prayer, fraternity, discussing the state of the Mercedarian Order in the Roman Province, setting priorities for the next three years, and encouraging one another in the renewal of consecrated life as lived according to our redemptive charism.
On the morning of Sunday, June 14, 2009, the assembly of capitulars began the initial phase of the election of the Provincial superior and counselors. Provincial elections proceed in the following manner:
1. NOMINATION –– The friars of each local community, before the Provincial chapter, filled out their ballots during an official meeting of their local community. Each had the opportunity to nominate three priests for Provincial superior, and four friars for counselors. The completed ballots were folded to protect privacy and sealed in an envelope signed over the seal by each friar. The envelope with the ballots is then placed in another envelope with the verbale (an official letter from the local superior stating that the friars met on a particular day and voted according to proper law).
2. OPENING OF THE BALLOTS –– The envelopes with the verbale and ballots from each local community, transported by the local superior, are then presented to the chapter, one-by-one. The president of the chapter—in this case the Master General—with the witness of one of two scrutinizers, opens each envelope, verifying the verbale, and counting the number of ballots from each community to make sure that the number of ballots does not exceed the number of members of each community. Once all the envelopes are opened, they are then counted to verify that the number of ballots do not exceed the number of friars who, by law, have the right and privilege to vote.
3. COUNTING OF THE VOTES –– The president of the chapter then opens each ballot and hands it to the scrutinizer, who reads the nominees written on each ballot. This process in done once for the nominees for provincial superior, and then repeated for the nominees for provincial counselors. The five priests who are eligible by law and receive the most votes for provincial superior become the nominees. The eight friars (brothers or priests) who receive the most votes for counselors become the nominees for provincial counselors.
The capitulars celebrated the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and noon. Following the Mass and lunch, the afternoon was spent resting, meditating, praying, and spontaneously discussing thoughts about the up coming election. At 4:00pm, the friars reunited in the chapter hall where Fr. Eugene Costa, O. de M., Novice Master for the United States Vicariate, gave a guided meditation to the friars to prepare them for the coming task of electing a provincial superior.
At 7:30pm, the friars gathered in the chapel for Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament with Vespers, mediation, and, for those who desired, the Sacrament of Penance. The Holy Hour ended with Eucharistic Benediction. The friars then enjoyed a relaxing supper together before retiring for the evening.