Provincial Treasurers of the Congregation of the Mission gathered to hear Fr. Gregory Gay offer his thoughts on “Vincent as the first Provincial Treasurer (Econome)”. It does not require much imagination to transpose his thoughts to those who have responsibilities for stewardship in local houses and even to our own personal use of material goods.
Here are some important ideas from this address .
- The job (as ‘Econome’) is often a thankless and difficult one- but it is one of the most important and most needed ones for this time- and one we need to equip confreres to do.
- Econome is a steward of the resources of the province, he is not the source!
- Those with true claim on our resurces are the poor: it is their “patrimony” for our use.
- Although being an Econome is a thankless job, it is one that SVDP felt was important enough t0 guide and train men for this responsibility.
Themes important to note:
- The task of the Econome is to help the Visitor manage well the temporal goods of the province for the full benefit of the mission. To truly benefit the mission, goods must be properly cared for.
- The Econome must insure that the basic needs of the confreres are met. If this is not done, confreres will seek other sources of income to meet their needs and eventually manifest a mode of independent behavior that could deprive the CM of resources.
- Managing resources well, means being able to manage goods for the benefit of confreres so that they are ‘healthy and able’ to do the mission and be enriched spiritually.
- We live today in a widespread culture of corruption in society, and this can affect how we view the acquisition and use of resources.
- We must see the goods of the community not as our own personal (or even provincial) property, but as part of the ‘patrimony of the poor’. Goods must not be defined by sentimental attachments to geographical, parochial, or local boundaries.
- This is a difficult but necessary part of ‘reconfiguration’- sharing all of what we have for the good of the mission wherever it will take us.
- We must avoid the ‘amassing’ of wealth, property, etc. We have to be conscious to avoid ‘empire-building’. Donations and bequests coming to us for the poor (or made with specific requirements) must be honored, as the intention of the donor takes precedence.
- We have I our Constitutions the “Fundamental Statute on Poverty”, which is the only explicitly developed statute on any of the four vows. That assigns it a great prominence.
- To avoid the “culture of entitlement” which affects people today and can at times filter down to confreres.
- To be helpful, generous, and concerned for the welfare of others, while also maintaining proper boundaries of professional behavior needed to do the work of the Econome.
- To be just and even-handed in dealings with confreres and lay colleagues, and not to allow personal feelings or friendship or favoritism to get in the way.
- There should be no distinction among confreres income-wise (who brings in funds and who doesn’t.) All confreres are equal as full members and co-sharers in the Mission.
- Today donors & funders demand transparency, and that is akin to our virtue of simplicity.
CHARACTERISTICS OF A ‘GOOD’ ECONOME:
- One who is a ‘team player’ works with Visitor, his Council, and local communities.
- Realizes this is not a ‘power position’ but a call to service for the mission and confreres.
- One who is trained for the position, and is willing to learn and grow in it.
- One who sees his authority as coming from the perspective of service for the mission.
- One who takes an active interest in the well-being of individual confreres as well as their living and working environments.
- One who seeks to see his work as a ministry, albeit a ‘hidden’ and often laborious one.