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What we need to leave behind

News 22nd General Chapter

24/09/2017: Colombia - Photo gallery

On the 16th day of the General Chapter, the participants continued to try and identify what the whole Institute needs to “let go of” or stop doing for it to be the Institute envisioned for the future.


Beginning of work

After the morning contemplative prayer and breakfast, Eucharist opened the day at 8:45 am. At the beginning of the first session, Brother Juan Carlos read a brief message from Brother José Sánchez, Provincial of Central México, who is absent from the Chapter until Monday. The message referred to the suffering of the Mexican people and the Province's activities on behalf of those affected by the earthquake.

Letting go

Yesterday’s program concluded with groups looking at two questions:

  • For our Body (Institute) to give of its best to the emerging world, what cannot continue into the future?
  • From what do we need free ourselves?

Each table group feedback to the plenary group their responses to these questions. This took about an hour. The elements identified by participants varied. Many groups stressed the need for members of the Institute to abandon attitudes that do not allow the Institute to be transformed into a global body. These attitudes include: focusing on great differences, acting as a federation, self-reference, self-reliance, unsuitable structures, fragmentation, narrow vision, individualistic mentality, power and control.

There is evidently a strong desire among Chapter participants for the Institute to be seen and to function as a global body. There is also a recognition that for this desire to become a reality, the Institute as a global body needs to more than just a beautiful idea. A determined effort is needed by everyone in or associated with the Institute. There is also a price to pay.


Future ideas in the refrigerator

In general, Marists tend to be pragmatic by nature and want to resolve complex issues by coming up with solutions and reaching quick decisions rather than staying with the longer process of seeing the deeper reality of the world and the Institute. This means some themes emerge that are in fact potential solutions. While these proposals cannot be ignored, now is not the time to address them. An image that is now in common usage at the Chapter for dealing with these solution type items is by putting them in the refrigerator. Thanks to the work of the animation team, a model refrigerator now stands on the podium of the Chapter Hall as a physical reminder. Now, whenever a suggestion for future action is raised, it is metaphorically "placed in the refrigerator", where it waits to be treated at the due time in the process.


Going Deeper Into Reflection

Matthieu Daum, the Facilitator, mentioned to participants that the process they are undertaking is likened to the experience of a process of death. While dealing with death is a deep and painful crisis, it is alos necessary if new life is to occur. It is never easy to decide what to allow to die.

To go deeper into this process, Matthieu posed the following questions for reflection at table groups:

  • Personally, what do I need to let die in me?
  • At the Administrative Unit level, what do we need to let go?
  • As a global body, what do we have to let die?

The table groupings for these questions was changed to include: The young Brother invitees; The General Council; Each Administrative Unit of the Institute.


Second session

After the break, sharing continued in each of the table groups addressing the questions posed: What needs to die or be let go of personally, as an administrative unit and as a global body.

Among the many elements identified were the following:

the fear of change, mediocrity of acting as religious, differences between the Provinces, local focus, sector federation, self-protection, power of the will, individualism, community life that does not generate life, power over mission, comfortable lifestyle, disembodied spirituality, mission that does not care for people, paradigms that impede communion with the laity, rivalry, pursuit of security, certain cultural attitudes, immobility on the part of some Brothers, incoherence of life, centralization...

All the many elements that were identified in the groups were listed on sheets of paper and posted on the back wall of the Chapter Hall for the participants to read and reflect on at their leisure.



On Saturday afternoon, there were no working sessions so as to give Chapter participants a welcome break from proceedings. At dinner, participants from Province Cruz del Sur hosted an 'asado', with Brazilian caipirinha.


On Sunday morning, the whole General Chapter community, along with local Marists from Medellin, and members of the Marist Novitiate community, gathered at the Major Seminary at 10 am to celebrate Eucharist with the Archbishop of Medellin, Ricardo Tobón. The objective of this Eucharistic celebration was for the Marist Institute to pray in communion with local church in Colombia, and the wider church of Latin America that this year celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Latin American Bishop’s Medellin declaration. The meeting of Latin American Bishops in 1968, at this same Major Seminary, took up the calls for renewal made by the Second Vatican Council, and more specifically where they committed the Latin American church to a preferential option for the poor (Photos - Video).

The rest of Sunday was free.

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