April 25, 2019
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DR#: 8 Cooperation and Mutual Support


Leadership devoid of perspective is doomed to failure. Yet, maintaining that precious perspective in the midst of daily demands is a daunting task. Did Vatican II unleash a flood of discontent masked as development or did the Council invite an inspired renewal of commitment? Did religious communities, in reestablishing the initial charism of their founders give way to individualism, or did they re-ignite their thirst of serving? Perspective is essential as a leader responds to these issues.

For most active religious communities, the focus of the new iteration of the Rules shifted from the law to the spirit (“the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life” 2 Cor 3:6). Consequently, the revised Constitutions moved from a juridical view to a pastoral stance. Out went the rules and regulations the leader of the past was called to safeguard. Law and order were supplanted by existentialist understanding. Leaders were meant to “understand,” literally to “stand under” looking up at, and thereby avoiding a judgmental stance.

Vatican II, and General Chapters in the 70’s and 80’s recognized the leader as a Servant Leader. Servant leadership beckoned to collegiality, co-responsibility, dialogue, accountability and subsidiarity. “Authority” was being challenged not to lose perspective. The attitude of leadership, the balance of authority, and the perspective to manage an institution find support in the principle of mutuality.

Through this experience, the participant will:

  • reflect on the call to Servant Leadership;
  • consider the interaction of authority and leadership; and
  • discover ways to foster healthy perspectives.
  • Abundant Treasures (Melannie Svoboda, SND) pp. 60-61
  • Rule of Life, #209-228
  • Letters of Andre Coindre pp. 76, 80, 128-129
Options for Additional Readings
  • Learning by Heart (Roland Barth)
  • Leading with Soul (Bolman and Deal)
Suggestions for Journal Reflection
  1. “What for me has been a model for servant leadership? What are some of the ways I exercise leadership in my life?” (Svoboda, p. 61)
  2. Letters (p 80) speak of the attitude of leadership as positive, forgiving, encouraging. How do I enable those whom I am called to lead?
  3. How does my leadership role within a school setting mirror that of the director within a local community? (Rules #209-228)

 Give to me, O Lord, a steadfast heart,
which no unworthy affection may drag downwards;
give me an unconquered heart, which no tribulation can wear out;
give me an upright heart, which no unworthy purpose may tempt aside.

Bestow upon me also, O Lord my God, 
understanding to know Thee,
diligence to seek Thee,
wisdom to find Thee, 
and a faithfulness that may finally embrace Thee. 


(St. Thomas Aquinas)


Abundant Treasures (Melanie Svoboda, SND) pp. 60-61


"If I, therefore, the master and teacher, have washed your feet,
you ought to wash one another's feet."   - Jesus

One of the great leaders of the church in our day was Cardinal Joseph Bernardin of Chicago. As Bernardin lay in a hospital recuperating from cancer surgery, his friend Eugene Kennedy delivered an eloquent testimony to him at the annual meeting of the U.S. bishops. What Kennedy said about Bernardin can be applied to any good leader: he "has never been afraid of the dark and, in his company, neither are we." People like Cardinal Bernardin teach us a lot about leadership. In this chapter, I would like to share eight lessons I have learned about the gift of leadership from people such as Bernardin.

1. Leadership is the capacity to influence others for the better. Good leadership is always directed toward liberation.

2. There are various forms of leadership—charismatic, administrative, executive, to name a few. Each type has both positive and negative aspects. The type that is best for a particular group will vary according to time, place, and circumstances.

3. Exercising leadership is not the same as exercising authority. As Richard McCormick, SJ, from Notre Dame has said, "One can command all day without being a leader for a minute."

4. We can be a leader without wearing a badge, carrying a crosier, banging a gavel, or sitting behind a big desk. Parents and teachers, for example, are leaders. In fact, all Christians, by virtue of their baptism, are called to some form of leadership.

5. Jesus had some revolutionary ideas about leadership. One day, an argument broke out among his apostles as to which of them was the greatest. This happened toward the end of Jesus' life. We can only begin to imagine what Jesus must have felt when he heard his closest followers bickering over rank. He probably wanted to scream, "Haven't you guys heard anything I've said?" But instead he said to them. "The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those in authority over them are addressed as 'Benefactors'; but among you it shall not be so. Rather, let the greatest among you be as the youngest, and the leader as the servant" (Luke 22:25-26).

6. At the Last Supper, Jesus gave his apostles (and us!) a memorable picture of the type of leadership he was calling for. Wrapping a towel around his waist and kneeling down, he began to wash the feet of his disciples. Leadership for Jesus, then, was never about privilege; it was always about service.

7. The poet William Butler Yeats wrote, "The real leader serves truth, not people." In other words, good leaders resist the temptation to merely please people. When a Howard University president was asked to name the fundamental quality of leadership, he replied, "The capacity to inflict pain." That was his blunt way of saying that leadership requires the courage to speak the truth (to serve Truth) no matter how unpopular it might be.

8. Good leaders do not make tensions go away. James Bacik, a theologian and diocesan priest, says that what we need is a "dialectical spirituality," that is, one that understands the tensions of our age and allows them to bring forth good fruit. Some of those dialectical tensions include the following: the individual and community, spirituality and human development, the traditional and the new, the Gospel and culture, life and death, the eternal and the ever changing. Good leaders, like Jesus, befriend paradox.

In her book, The Thread of Blue Denim, Patricia Leimbach describes seeing a flock of migrating geese one fall afternoon. The sight evokes in her a reflection on leadership. She asks herself, "How would I choose a head goose if I were a goose and obliged to choose?" She answers, "I should certainly want to follow the wisest goose, the one with a sense of goose history...! should want a compassionate goose.,.1 would want a leader who saw that we didn't eat so richly and so long that we could no longer fly." Leimbach then concludes with these words: "The most important question to consider in choosing a head goose? Is he headed in the right direction?"

Who for me has been a model of servant leadership? What are some of the ways I exercise leadership in my life?

Jesus, help me to believe in leadership as compassionate service.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Rule of Life, #209-228

Chapter XII


209. Service

   Authority draws its inspiration
   from the Spirit of Christ,
   who came not to be served but to serve.
   It serves the common good,
   the growth of brotherhood,
   and the pursuit of the religious
   and apostolic aims of the Institute.

210. Fraternal Authority

   Authority is exercised in such a way
   as to help the brothers
   become attentive to the Spirit
   and be co-responsible for the formation
   of a true community of life and apostolate.

211. Role of Authority

   After reasonable consultation,
   authority sets common objectives,
   encourages and coordinates initiatives,
   makes necessary decisions,
   and promptly intervenes to prevent abuses
   and to correct errors.

212. Animation and Administration

   The service of authority is expressed
   through animation and administration.
   It affects every brother, each local community,
   and all levels of government.

213. Superiors

   The brothers chosen to serve as superiors,
   will be those who are promoters of unity,
   who show respect and trust,
   and who have a capacity
   for attentive listening.

214. Councils

   Superiors must have a council
   marked by a spirit of communion,
   which manifests the presence of the Lord,
   who enlightens and guides.
   The councilors,
   in a spirit of teamwork with the superior,
   contribute to making those decisions
   for which their consent or their counsel
   is required for validity according to the laws
   of the Church and of the Institute.

215. Source of Authority

   In the Gospels, authority is a gift from God
   who desires obedience to his Word.
   Whether it is exercised in chapter
   or by the superior acting alone or in council,
   authority comes from God
   through the mediation of the Church.

1. Local Government

The Local Community

216. The local community, the basic unit in the Institute, is a group of brothers living out their religious and apostolic life together according to the Rule of Life. It must have at least three members.

217. The local community is led by a director, assisted by a council and a treasurer.

218. Under the authority of the provincial acting alone or in council, the community is responsible for its own internal organization and for local application of provincial legislation.

The Local Director

219. The local director, under the authority of the provincial, is the one primarily responsible for the animation and administration of the community. He must be lay and perpetually professed. His term is annual and renewable, but not beyond nine consecutive years in the same community.

220. The local director is either appointed by the provincial in council or elected by the community provided it is made up of at least five brothers. The manner of choosing directors, removing them from office, and accepting their resignation is specified in the directory.

221. In cases of appointment, the consultation process is described in the directory.

222. If the local community elects its director, it follows the procedure described in the directory. The election must be confirmed by the provincial in council.

223. As animator, the director:

a. fosters conditions for genuine religious life;

b. sustains the brothers’ prayer life;

c. strives to make the community a home imbued with love;

d. encourages each brother’s initiatives and directs them toward the common good;

e. alerts the brothers to the needs around them;

f. considers the interview as a privileged means of communication.

224. The local director gives special attention to temporary professed brothers in collaboration with the brother appointed by the provincial to guide their formation.

225. The director willingly shares his responsibilities with the brothers while assuring necessary coordination and supervision. He is the president of the local council.

226. When absent, the director is replaced by the first councilor and then by the second, and so on.

The Local Council

227. The local council comprises a director and councilors who help him in the animation and administration of the community.

228. The directory defines the authority of local councils and specifies the decisions for which the councilors have deliberative vote. It sets the number of councilors and determines the duration of their term as well as the procedures for their selection, removal, and resignation.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

André Coindre: Writings and Documents, Vol. 1, Letters 1821-1826


St-Arcons near Pradelles, Haute-Loire, April 29 [1823]

My very dear Brother Director,

I received with the greatest satisfaction your latest letter. I was indeed sorry not to be able to speak with you at length as I would have liked before leaving. The problems and worries which you have had to endure had been much the object of my trip to Lyon; and yet I left without having listened to the anguish in your heart. In my mind I linked up your earlier concerns about your secular garb41 with your delay in arriving and, being extremely tired, I left without being able to talk to you. Well then! As you are still the good and steadfast Brother Director, please accept my grateful thanks. You can rely on me as your closest friend, a father most zealous for your holiness and happiness. I have left you [free] to dress in frock coat and breeches. I leave all that to your discretion, both for yourself and the others. As for you, be sure to have a clean coat for Sundays. When you are sure you can rely on the obedience and sound prayer life of the other brothers, then you can get them a habit. As for the breeches, you can have them made to any cut you consider appropriate.

Please do not allow our dear brothers to wear socks with holes in them, or muddy shoes, or dirty shirts, or grimy hats. Their faces, their hands, in a word their whole persons must be clean. That is what the administrative board expressly recommended. Everything ought to sparkle with cleanliness: the children, the workshops, the kitchen, the refectory, and especially the dormitories. If it has not yet been possible to raise the height of the wall on the side of the property belonging to Mr. Jouve,42 you must at least have had the beds from the attic taken down to the first floor. See to it that the bed sheets are changed regularly, that dirty linen not be left around, that any fleas are destroyed, etc. The world, which only takes account of the exterior, will have little regard for the interior if all of these things were to be neglected.

See to it that those responsible for the workshops, that is to say Brother Xavier and the young man from Tarare and Sethiny [?], do not do anything else but their work, the books and the store room. There is a definite need for improvement in that regard. Work and love of work, for pupils and working brothers alike, must be considered a duty of state. Piety and regularity on the part of those who have been assigned these various responsibilities would be useless were they to neglect their duty of state.

As for Brother Niel [Brother Ignace] and Mr. Delon [Brother Eugène] whom you were to admit, and the young Marcellin and Mr. Fregier [?] who are responsible for the cleaning, be sure that they follow their handwriting lessons regularly. I had spoken to you about that but you probably misunderstood, because you seem to have taken it badly. I had said or I meant to say, that the training of those who are destined to be teachers must be hurried along; that I could only manage to allocate to the providence on La Butte, for non-essential personnel, a set amount of about two or three hundred francs for example, for one year of novitiate; and that when these two or three hundred francs were exhausted, not being able to give anything further to the providence on La Butte for their upkeep, I shall be forced to withdraw them and appoint them to a house where they will have to manage with the limited knowledge they have acquired. I also tried to say that if they have neither learned how to write well, nor how to teach reading by our method, nor how to teach catechism well, they will be considered a liability and our first houses will not take them on, and I will be left with them on my hands; and that consequently it was extremely urgent [that those] who, for example, are to start teaching on All Saints Day not waste their time. If you had understood my explanation this way, you would have found no difficulty in explaining it to them.

As for you, you must always be of that blend of firmness and kindness, which assures that the rule is observed and your authority esteemed. Always share with me your little sorrows. That way I can to write you and dispel them and give you advice. Mother Saint-Ignace is far more often at my door than you are. She always has some questions for me, and I always find an answer. I will do the same for you when you open to me your heart and that of our brothers. When I do not receive anything, I assume that all is well, but sometimes I have been quite mistaken. I really prefer to be made aware of your woes day by day.

I trust that my mother is well. I have no time to write to ask about her little radishes or her lettuces or her flowers or hens, nor am I able to tell her how much I love her. She is often in my thoughts; I am sure she knows it very well. As for Mrs. Pallière43, she is foolish for not replying a single word to my brother after his two letters to her. Are her fingers frozen? Are there no more pens or paper or ink left in Lyon?

I am going to entrust to you a very important errand: one of the canons of Le Puy has shown a great deal of interest in us. Buy for him four pounds of tobacco, genuine Torins44; that particular quality is absolutely essential for medicinal purposes, without blending in even a grade that might be considered superior. Go to the shop of Mr. Georget and insist that you get exactly what you request. Send the tobacco via the parcel post delivery service of Messrs. Dubois and Robert in Le Puy addressed to the Reverend Pastor of Pradelles, Haute-Loire.

We are getting on well. All my love to my mother, my sister, and all the dear brothers.

Your most devoted father,


Above all, don’t forget to go straight away to Mr. Monteillet, the sculptor in Saint-Jean square, for a carved wooden statue of Christ; it is five and a half feet tall, and costs forty francs.45 It must be sent from Lyon by Trinity Sunday at the very latest. Be sure to tell the coachman or the delivery service agent that we must have it in Le Puy no later than the following Wednesday, to have the ceremony of planting the cross the next day. Let me know by return mail whether this delivery is possible so that, if not, we can take alternate measures.

The Honorable Brother Borgia
director of the brothers of Pieux-Secours,
3 Montée de la Butte, Lyon, Rhone


41 Brother Borgia seemed to be particularly concerned with having an attire, as a visible sign that the community had taken charge of Pieux-Secours. He will on several occasions bring up the subject, which seemed to be of far less of a concern for the founder, who pragmatically emphasized rather the importance of hygiene and cleanliness, linking the matter of the habit with that of the approbation of the congregation by the bishop of Le Puy.

In the beginning, the brothers had no distinctive habit; little by little, they began wearing a kind of uniform, made up of breeches and a black frock-coat; this kind of overcoat was knee-length and even sometimes disappeared under the folds of an ample cloak. It is worth noting that the articles of clothing were of the type worn by people of average means.

42 A neighbor whose property bordered Pieux-Secours to the east.

43 Marthe-Marie Coindre, born in Lyon on January 5, 1793. On October 15, 1818 she was first married to François Palliere, born on October 18, 1795 and died on October 5, 1820. On September 22, 1832, she married again, this time to Antoine Malligand, born in September 1801 in Ain, and died in Lyon on November 28, 1882. She died in 1864.

44 No reference to a town of this name has been found. There is however a commune of Rhone, Thurins, which lies 15 kilometers west of Lyon. This initial contact with the pastor of Pradelles seems to have paved the way for the opening of a school which the brothers would establish in December 1824.

45 Two sheets from one of André Coindre’s accounts books (General archives AO1.007) reproduced by Brother Jean Roure on page 82 of the Chronology, allow us to establish a comparison between this wooden corpus of Christ, measuring five and a half feet (roughly 1 m 70) at a cost of 40 francs, with the one from Le Monastier which cost 160 francs, the one from Rosières 150 francs, and the one from Saint-Pierre-Eynac, 140 francs.

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