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Message of Brother Superior General to the Chapter

09/09/2009: General House - Photo gallery

This day began with great expectations of the speech that the Superior General, Br. Sean Sammon, was going to give to the Chapter. Brother Graham Neist, who was co-ordinating the session as a member of the Provisional Committee, told a story presenting those who tell stories as men who build an undying culture which nourishes hope. Applying this metaphor, he introduced Br. Sean as a “good storyteller”.

The words of Br. Sean

Br. Sean’s address covered five major areas. In the first, he described the general context in which the eight years since the previous Chapter had been lived. The second part, without doubt the longest and most substantial, was dedicated to the consecrated life and formation. The third referred to the international character of the Institute. The fourth was a reflection on government and animation during the past eight years. And finally, there was a special focus on lay Marists. Before finishing, Br. Sean gave thanks to those who had worked with him. “If there have been successes in our government and animation, it is to them that we owe it. If there have been failures, I take the responsibility”. His words were received with great applause. The full text will be available on this page when it has been translated into the four official texts.

Afterwards, one heard comments such as these: “He reminded us that we ought to stamp our proper place in the Church as consecrated persons”. Sean has emphasized very clearly that “now is the time for us, laity and brothers, to take our place at the centre of Marist life and mission”. “We have an urgent mission, and now is the moment”. “He fills me with hope in calling us to dream and build the future we wish to live as Marists”. “It was a courageous and realistic speech. He indicated the positive aspects but placed particular emphasis on the challenges the Institute faces for the future”. “He made it clear that the presence of lay Marists does not depend on the brothers; they are themselves the ones who must take the responsibility”. “We must have a better formation programme”. “Sean moved me and impressed me deeply by the clarity with which he presented the road covered, the current reality, and his profound discernment of both the limitations and the creative potential of the Institute”.

General Plan of the Chapter

The second part of the morning and all the afternoon was dedicated to setting on track the General Plan of the Chapter, which will be made concrete in its aims and dynamic. Four general criteria guided the initial reflection of the Chapter: the search for consensus rather than a majority decision; to favor shared work in the assembly rather than in specialist commissions, sponsoring dialogue in the hall; to create a climate of prayer and discernment which calls for daily listening to the Word or a whole day of retreat; and to promote common life more than work in the chapter through times and spaces of celebration, outings, and living together.
With these criteria the Chapter has to provide itself with the method to follow for discovering the central call of God to the brothers and lay Marists of today and the consequences flowing from that.
Once this is achieved, it will proceed to appointing the persons who will direct the work of the Chapter. These persons will make up the Central Commission.

The second phase of the Chapter will be marked by studying God’s call to the Institute to determine the consequences and priorities for drawing out ways of government, and the election of the Superior General and the Vicar General who are to direct the carrying out of this call in the life of the Institute.

To discover what God wishes for the Marists of today, two resources, involving the whole Institute, have been used: the regional letters and the report of the General Council. Now we have to add the Superior General’s address to the Chapter.

Another task which has to be defined within the Plan of the Chapter is the transmission of its decisions to the Institute. For this, it needs to define what type of transmission it wishes to carry out, and to work out what resources it needs to do this.

The Chapter has begun work in a climate of serenity, joy, and fraternal unity. The first steps are of a technical and organizational nature, but they are the foundations for the dynamic of the Chapter working efficiently.

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