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Marist Calendar - December

Enlarged General Council with the Provinces of Arco Norte (2)



Getting to know the region

11/11/2008: Mexico - Photo gallery

The method which the Brothers continued to employ during the meeting of the Enlarged General Council with the Provinces of Arco Norte revolved around three actions: Seeing, judging and acting. The work of this session involved “seeing the specific situation of the region. During the first morning session work was carried out in interprovincial groups to accomplish a shared vision of how the Provinces making up Arco Norte are constituted. To help with this reflection a folder was used in which certain data had been gathered pertaining to each Province: number of Brothers pyramid of ages, number of communities, number of works and the presence of Brothers in them, first professions and perpetual professions in the last ten years, etc.

In the plenary session it was ascertained that Arco Norte is a region with a high age index and aging Brothers, especially in the north, but at the same time it is both young and complex; young because it is taking its first steps towards regionalisation and at this time needs to define its identity; complex because of its three different situations. It is a region with vitality, with possibilities and with a future because it has 868 Brothers of whom 200 are less than 50 years old, but there is also a need for urgent action.

The Marist mission in Arco Norte, however, is alive and highly effective. There is a great attraction to the Marist charism among the lay people and the young people. The participation and formation of lay people in the mission becomes greater every day. In the region signs of fidelity, of dedicated life and of apostolic zeal are very clear.

On the other hand, there is to be found a great wealth of diverse languages, apostolates, fraternities and people involved. Diversity in age, mission, community life, vocation, history, cultural situation, economy and number of Brothers. The cultural wealth of the region issues a great challenge to open up and to create the region, but we are quite clear in the knowledge that we are part of a whole. We are also clear about the lack of vocations and the need for a vocational pastoral.

The second morning session was devoted to looking at how the Provinces are animating this region in order to have a global knowledge of themselves. The basic document used was a synthesis of the provincial priorities of animation of each Province defined in different provincial situations. Finally, the interprovincial groups shared ideas on how the animation should be carried out in each of the administrative Units.

Reflection by Brother Seán Sammon, Superior General

The second word defining the method of work used at the meeting was judging. In order to stimulate this activity, Bro. Seán Sammon, Superior General, addressed the assembly. He began by reminding everyone that the current situation is similar to that of 1903, when the Brothers had to make the decision to abandon France. On that occasion, the Bro.Superior General gathered the scholastics together to tell them that they could return to their homes or request permission of their parents to travel to distant countries. Many of the scholastics decided to go and live outside France. That situation meant that those young Brothers participated in a genuine restructuring.
Regarding the new situation facing Arco Norte, one of the questions that we should ask ourselves, Bro. Seán said, is what questions and what answers would Champagnat give. In the early days of the Institute, Marcellin had neither money, nor vocations, but he had a dream. Today, in the Marist world, with about 40.000 lay people and almost 4.000 Brothers, the Institute reaches the heart of about 500.000 children and young people. Where will we be in 20 years time? Where should we be? Do we have a heart that is willing to change a future which we ourselves will not see? To respond to these questions we need a change of heart, Bro. Seán observed. And he then turned his attention to the restructuring progress which has already been made. Restructuring, in one way or another, has always existed in our Institute. The process has helped many. There have been Provinces which found vitality and viability for their projects. There were also errors which must be acknowledged. Not every Brother was happy with what was done; to this day there are still discussions. Change can lead to uncomfortable situations; which is why, before making decisions it is necessary to seek, by means of serene discernment, what God wants for the Institute today. And Bro. Seán added: Champagnat was a man in love with God who listened to the Holy Spirit, like Mary, and he gave a courageous response. Today we are heirs of his charism, and the decision that we take now is just as important as the one that Marcellin took in 1817”.

After a brief pause, Bro. Seán continued with his talk in which he alluded to some necessary attitudes in people so that they can carry regionalisation forward. In the first place, to secure our institutional identity. When they ask us for our identity, we speak of what we do. But we have to testify to our being and not only our doing. While we speak of our mission, we must also speak of our way of living.

In the second place, regionalisation demands sacrifice and a life of prayer. Sacred indifference and sacrifice are indispensable in confronting the challenges presented by the work of restructuring.

Personal response

The second afternoon work session was devoted to personal discernment in an atmosphere of prayer. The proposal made was directed towards discovering the personal contribution which each one of us must make to the region. Two achieve this, two questions were directed to the participants: What is God asking of you, you personally, at this time, for the Arco Norte region? What do you think is the call that God is directing to this Marist region at this moment?

The day ended with mass presided over by Cardinal of Guadalajara Juan Sandoval. In his homily he recognized the Brothers while at the same time reminding us of his years of service as chaplain to the Marists. He then shared a meal with the Brothers.

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