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The PUCRS works on its Reflection Plan

13/06/2008: Brazil


From May 30 to June 1, a total of 148 persons, professors and administrative staff of the Pontifical Catholic University of Rio Grande do Sul (PUCRS), met in Bento Gonçalves in order to reflect together on the important values - religious, spiritual, formative - which are part of the heritage of St. Marcellin Champagnat. As has been the case over the past eight years, PUCRS set up the meeting in order to keep up to date on its Reflection Plan. The goal of the plan is to take a good look at the internal operations of the institution and to get a better grasp of its “vocation” as a Marist Brothers’ institution. This most recent reflection will be followed up by two other meetings.

When the meeting opened, Brother Joaquim Clotet, Rector, explained the aims of the Reflection Plan: viz., to keep the University staff up to date; to have better interaction among the staff, so as to promote the idea of what really makes the Pontifical University tick; and to take on the collective commitments entailed. The Rector remarked, “Here we all have an active role, taking one another’s tasks seriously, and all working for the good of PUCRS.” The Vice-rector, Evilázio Teixeira, the present coordinator of the Plan, reminded the participants that the initiative requires a listening attitude and much reflection and dialogue about the Marist mission being carried out by the university.

Comments – Father Érico Hammes and Brothers Armando Bortolini and Manoel Alves (the last named coming from Catholic University Brasilia and president of the Marist Union Brazil) touched upon various topics over the three-day meeting. Two topics were: (1) the mission and challenges faced by Catholic universities, and (2) Marist education in today’s world. The latter point was developed along historical and religious lines. Historically, there is the role played by Champagnat as the one who initiated Marist teaching in the world. Religiously, there is the service rendered by the Marist Brothers’ Institute in spreading Jesus’ word, always doing so with Mary as model. Nil-son José Machado, of São Paulo University, and José Roberto Gomes da Silva, of the Pontifical University of Río de Janeiro, offered their reflections on higher education in the XXI century.

Dialogue - The Reflection Plan includes a forum for dialogue with the top Administrative level of PUCRS. Under the rubric, “Relationship to the Rector’s Office,” the Rector, the Vice-rectors and the Pro-rectors made themselves available to handle a range of questions coming from the participants. On the present occasion topics included: establishing the curriculum, relations with student officers, academic advancement, approaches to professional recruitment. The Rector took the lead in speaking too about the legislation on with philanthropies, since the issue is presently being debated in Brazil, with the possibility of introducing a change in present legislation.


What is the Reflection Plan?

The Reflection Plan unfolds in three stages over a given academic year. Each stage focuses upon a distinct content, but all three meetings deal with the same under-lying topic: integrating religion into university life. The first meeting held at Bento Gonçalves was entitled “See.” It aimed at helping the participants reflect upon a guiding vision, one that is personal as well as institutional.

The second meeting, held in Porto Alegre, was called “Identity.” Its goal was to place the group reflection in a context both theoretical and practical. Within such a con-text the participants are helped to understand and share the mission and vision of PUCRS.

The third meeting, held at Porto Alegre, was called “Commitment.” It joined another feature to what had transpired at the first two meetings. Contracts were signed amongst the Board of Directors, Professors and Administrators, so that PUCRS may be able to fulfill its role in Brazilian society as a university which is Pontifical, Catholic and Marist. The Reflection Project which got started in the year 2000 has now had eleven meetings, in which 1451 participants have taken part.

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