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Enlarged General Council with the Provinces of Arco Norte (1)

10/11/2008: Mexico - Photo gallery

Brother Superior General and his Council invited the Provincial Council of Arco Norte, to meet in Guadalajara, Mexico 5- 9 November 2008. The meeting took place at La Quinta San José, a house of spirituality situated in the barrio of Las Pintas de Arriba in the municipality of El Salto (Jalisco).

This meeting had been arranged previously at the General Conference held in Sri Lanka in 2005, and was convoked at the conclusion of the second visit of the General Council to the region of Arco Norte. Also taking part were the Provincial Councils of the Provinces of Canada, United States of America, Central Mexico, Western Mexico, Central America and Norandina which constitute the region called Arco Norte.


Words of inauguration by Brother Seán

Following greetings by the Brother Provincials of Western and Central Mexico, Victor and Fernando respectively, Brother Seán Sammon, Superior General, welcomed the participants at the beginning of the session. He referred to the historical fact that for fifty years, intense work has been put into renewing the Institute. With the passing of time a new generation of brothers have emerged, who were born after Vatican Council II, and who must now, at this present time, act as spiritual guides for those who will build the future. Brother Seán described this meeting as an opportunity for the continuous formation of the leaders. It is a forum”, he said, “for sharing local leadership priorities with the General Administration. And he concluded with the wish that Mary and Marcellin would be partners in their journey and a source of creativity for the new leaders. Next, Brother Pedro Herreros, as he outlined the objectives of the meeting, affirmed that the efforts of this meeting should be focussed on establishing the region of Arco Norte. The specific objectives are as follow: 1.To evaluate the course of action generally agreed in the Enlarged General Council of Maryknoll (2004) and of Guatemala (2005), providing continuity to the visits of the General Council. 2. To discover together the region of Arco Norte starting from the 6 Provinces which form it. 3. To discern the calls of God to build together the future of the Arco Norte region in order to contribute to the vitality of the region. 4. To reflect together, in light of the experience of the current General Administration, on possible structures of animation and government at general and regional level in view of the next General Chapter.

Once the objectives had been set out, a general evaluation took place concerning the road travelled as a region, and the history of this Marist region was recorded to facilitate this evaluation. The first steps were taken with the Latin American Conference of Provincials (CLAP) established as an example of permanent formation for the Provincials of Latin America. CLAP was established in three regions: Arco Norte, with 6 Provinces, Brazil, with 6 Provinces and Cono Sur, with 4 Provinces and 2 Districts. Each region assumed its own structures. In the 10th meeting, held in Los Teques (Venezuela) in 2004, the decision was taken to form the Interamerican Conference of Provincials (CIAP). In their first meeting, which took place in Sri Lanka in 2005, at the General Conference, the new Arco Norte was created which included Canada and the United States.

Reasons for regionalisation

The main topic for this meeting was regionalisation, that is to say, cooperation among the Provinces. The hymn with which this morning started repeated the refrain: Here I am Lord. This allowed Brother Peter Rodney, at the start of the meeting to reflect: Here I am also as a member of the region. Where do I fit in? What is my place within the region? “The efforts in the course of these days led to clarifying together the meaning and implications of the dynamics of regionalisation. Arco Norte is a region that in some ways is just beginning. This was the first time that the Provincial Councils of the 6 Provinces came together. It was important to remember the road travelled to arrive at the current situation. The General Chapter of 1993 defined regionalisation as the process by which the administrative units of the Institute are grouped together, to facilitate cooperation and ample cooperation. The fundamental purpose of regionalisation, according to the Chapter, consists in articulating the participation process and it is helpful that it has emerged within the Institute to bring about the notion of international brotherhood.

The 20th General Chapter made some recommendations to groups of Provinces: 1. that the Provinces of a particular area should unite to initiate or to continue some missionary ad gentes project. 2. that groups of Provinces, in consultation with the General Council, could initiate projects of Marist mission with their own structures. 3. that the mobility of the brothers be facilitated from one province to another with a view to promoting projects of solidarity, evangelism and education.

Brother Luís Sobrado Garcia, who facilitated this session, shared a series of approaches emerging from the reflections of the General Council: 1. fraternity and family spirit which has been translated at some point into the colloquial language of the Institute, as internal solidarity. 2. The sharing of both people and resources. As has been the customary practice of the Institute material resources have been easily shared, but the sharing of people is more difficult. 3. Internationality. It is a question, said Brother Luis, of increasingly placing ourselves in a more international world. We cannot grow in a world which is becoming more and more international simply with local structures, whether they are economic structures or formation structures. This implies mobility in the brothers and soon mobility in the lay people. 4. An urgent need to utilise the network within our own Province and with the other Provinces. We need a network that combines the animation of the General Council with that of the Provinces. And he concluded by saying that the region of Arco Norte is the fruit of history, but the answers to the needs of the region must be now.

With this in mind, preliminary work began in groups to respond to these two concerns: In what way are these four values significant for our province or region and what other values are considered important for the Provinces or for the region. Among the reactions shared in the plenary session it was affirmed that: The dream itself is very beautiful; but if it is so beautiful, why have the two Provinces of Mexico not come together?” Another great concern was that of energizing so many older brothers of the Provinces with regard to regionalisation.

Another area of concern was shared: Why regionalisation? And two answers were given: The first affirmed that regionalisation must serve to follow Jesus Christ and the mission. The second explained that in the Provinces of Arco Norte wealth has been distributed in very diverse ways. For example, some have a good educational organization and others not; some have young people and vocations and others not; some have money and others not. How can we share wealth and offer mutual support? That would be the central part of regionalisation. Difficulties arise from the strong autonomy held by the Provinces. Equally, it was pointed out that there are provincial regional or institute projects, that have not been coordinated, but rather are imposed and can create conflicts.

Review of the Maryknoll and Guatemala agreements

The afternoon began with the review of the courses of action defined at the meetings of the General Council with the Provincial Council of Arco Norte in Maryknoll (2004) and in Guatemala (2005). The work was carried out in groups in which brothers coming from different Provinces of the region took part. Two questions served to guide the work. First: What do you think of the progress so far? Second: What can we learn for the future when we revise our function as a region?

In the answers from the groups it was noted that everyone valued as positive the small steps that have already been taken, such as the creation of a new international Marist community in Canada, CIR, the meetings of young brothers, the meetings of young people and vocational pastoral, and those of formators which illuminate and widen horizons; also some measures that have been taken for both initial and ongoing formation, awareness of internationality and the dynamism provided by the international meetings.

For the future, there is a need to generate structures which will coordinate regionalisation and accompany the processes to learn how to synchronise initiatives and to prepare a schedule for the international meetings. It is suggested that someone be appointed as coordinator of the meetings organized in the region to keep the historical record and to carry out the execution of the agreements.

In this way ended a first significant moment in this assembly which looked at the past. The rest of the afternoon was devoted to a study of the situation of the Provinces, using a document in which the statistical data was gathered from each of the administrative units of the region.

Participants in the meeting - Photos

USA:
John Klein, John McDonnell, Michael Sheerin, Robert Clark, Hank Hammer, Patrick McNamara, Ben Consigli.

Central Mexico: Fernando Mejía Pérez, Ricardo Reynoso Ramírez, Ignacio Sánchez Guillén, Miguel Ángel Espinosa Barrera, Javier Francisco Salcedo Camarena, Marco Antonio Soto Sánchez.

Western Mexico: Victor Manuel Preciado Ramírez, Manuel Franco Jáuregui, Oscar Domínguez Rodríguez, Enrique Escobar Zúñiga, Luis Enrique Rodríguez Santana, Oscar Becerra García, Javier López Godina Barajas,

Canada: Bernard Beaudin, Gaston Robert, Yvon Bédard, Jean-Denis Couture, Marius Fournier, Roger Guertin, Réal Sauvageau.

Norandina: Laurentino Albalá Medina, César Augusto Rojas Carvajal, Crescenciano González Alonso, Mariano Morante Montes, José Luis Sebastian Martínez, José Ignacio Rodríguez García.

Central America: Hipólito Pérez Gómez, Luis Carlos Gutiérez Blanco, Fernando Rodríguez Gómez, Marco Antonio Vargas Berganza, Carlos Rafael Vélez Cacho, José Roberto Linares Contreras.

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