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The Increased General Council with the Marist Regions of Brazil and the “Southern Cone” (4)

07/11/2008: Argentina

The brothers of the General Council, with the Provincial Councillors of Brazil and the “Southern Cone”, focused today (October 30th) on animation and the general government of the Institute, in particular on regional animation. The Increased General Councils are an excellent opportunity for the leaders of the Institute and the leaders of each region to meet. The General Council has already started to provide the main lines of its report to the 21st General Chapter. The results of the reflection of these days will serve as an introduction and support the request of the preparatory Commission to each general Councillor to reflect on the animation and government of the Institute. In this perspective the analysis of the structures and services created by the General Council to respond to the mandates of the Chapter took place.

References
In order to promote communion within the Institute, the General Council referred to the circular letters, letters and writings of Br. Sean and to the contacts of the Councillors that are in touch with the Regions with the Administrational units, regions and their leaders. During their mandate the Councillors animated retreats in all the Administrational units, they made two visits followed by a report to each Administrational unit, they took part in two Increased General Councils in each Region and two General Conferences (2005 and 2007), they drew up orientation programmes for the new Provincials and District Superiors, they held meetings with the youth of each region and took part in the Provincial Chapters and regional provincial meetings. Furthermore, they created networks of brothers and laypeople, such as, for instance, the International Network of Marist Universities, the regional networks of mission and spirituality and the regional gatherings of provincial secretaries.

By promoting international meetings, the General Council also stirred reflection and action on some fundamental themes: vocation, formation of Marist brothers and laypeople, the Scholasticate and management of the educational mission. The animation of the Institute was revealed in specific events, such as the Year of Vocations, the International Assembly on Mission, the Year of Spirituality, the discernment plan on the evangelical use of goods and the summoning of the General Chapter. Furthermore, the mission of the Institute spread with the Mission ad Gentes project and the defence and promotion of the rights of children and youth. Solidarity developed in the Institute thanks to the creation of the 20th General Chapter Fund, the Formation Fund of the Institute, and with the creation of the FMSI Fund Onlus. The internationality of the Institute was strengthened thanks to the publication of FMS Message, the Marist News and the information found on the website old.champagnat.org.

Three moments of reflection
First of all we reflected on how the structures created by the General Administration and the methods and activities employed by the General Council are perceived in the regions of Brazil and the “Southern Cone”; we studied their impact on the Provinces and Districts in order to determine whether they worked well or they were not accomplishing the desired effects.

Later we observed the results of the regionalisation of Brazil and the “Southern Cone”, as well as those of the Inter-American Congress of Provincials (CIAP).

The General Chapter of 1993 defined regionalisation as a process by which the Administrational units of the Institute are gathered together in order to facilitate cooperation and collaboration. The fundamental goal of regionalisation, following the Chapter, was to harmonise the aid that comes from in the Institute to update the international fraternity. In this regard we consulted with the various realities and structures involved in animation in the Region.

The creation of new structures generated a degree of overlapping that, instead of furthering government and animation, led to some malfunctions. CIAP is a sound instrument of formation for the Provincial brothers, but there is a lack of other animation structures to implement the decisions made in collaboration with the General Council.

The third moment of the meeting focused on stressing the value of what worked well and overcoming the shortcomings of the current operation of the Region of America and CIAP, in its role of animation of the Region and its potential contribution to the entire Institute.

The afternoon ended with an open forum, to reflect, above all, on the Network of Marist Apostolic Spirituality, which is already 12 years old. There were questions concerning the Ad Gentes Project. Brother Luis Garcia Sobrado gave an overall vision of the current reality of the Project. He apologised for not being able to give more detailed information due to the confidentiality necessary for activities carried out in some Asian countries. Brother Luis G. Sobrado took advantage of the meeting to provide an historical and statistical briefing on what was done up to now. Other questions concerned the mixed communities of brothers and laypeople. It is a very diverse reality and it is hard to evaluate the various existing situations. However, Br. Angel Medina did provide detailed information on the activities of CLAR. The brothers also asked about the revision of the Constitutions published in 1985; and finally they were interested in the participation of laypeople in the next General Chapter. The answer was that nothing was yet decided in this regard. We shall hope that the Preparatory Commission of the Chapter will make a proposal and the General Council or the Brother Superior General will choose for the best.

Mass with the Bishop of Mar del Plata

The day ended around the altar with the Mass presided over by Mgr Juan Alberto Puiggari, the fifth Bishop of the young diocese of Mar del Plata. In his contribution, he addressed the brothers to thank them for their presence in the diocese and for their effective educational activity. The College bears the name of the person considered the founder of the city, Patricio Peralta Ramos, who called for the presence of the Marists to take care of the children of the new city.

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