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Election of the Central Commission / Meeting of the Marist Family

12/09/2009: General House - Photo gallery

The name of the Virgin was Mary. Thus the Gospel of Luke identifies the central character of that historic moment, who changed history with her yes to God. Twenty-one centuries later, the Church celebrates the name-day of this woman because of her trust in God. As Christians and as Little Brothers of Mary, we form part of the family of the children of God, and we rejoice to have a sister in the faith called Mary, who became the mother of Jesus, our God and Lord. To dedicate a day to celebrating her name is to celebrate a feast for all God has done through her.

The Institute has celebrated the name of Mary from the beginning with joy and gratitude, because it bears her name. The union of M and A, written in a single figure, is the origin of the monogram of Mary, one of the expressions of the names Mary and Marist, which has been most widely spread in its various forms. This graphic expression of our mother’s name has its origin in Greek icons, which abbreviate it with the initial letters of the Greek words Ἁγία Μαρία (Holy Mary).

The cult of the name of Jesus spread through Europe by means of the monogram of his name devised by Saint Bernardine of Siena (1380-1444). During the XVI and XVII centuries, the veneration of the name of Mary went together with that of Jesus. The miraculous medal (1830) includes on its reverse side the M of Mary.

The monogram of Mary came to be known by the Marists for the first time, according to the researches of Br. Pierre Zind, at the major seminary of Lyon. At the end of the XVII century, the Superior, François Rigoley, obtained the Marial monogram for the Coat of Arms of the Seminary of Saint Ireneus, and it was later adopted by the Society of Mary and the Little Brothers of Mary. Since then, the monogram has been widely disseminated in the Institute and by means of the Institute. Documents, stationery, shields, seals, books, pictures, etc. provide a way for studying its evolution.

The celebration of Mary’s name was what drew together the four branches of the Society of Mary at the general house of the Brothers on the day of the 12th of September.

During the morning, the capitulants were meeting to adapt the Chapter Regulations to the new methodology they are using in their work. The Preparatory Commission had anticipated that they would be able to hold the elections to the Central Commission also at this time, but they ran out of time and had to leave this until the evening.

Mass and meal

The Mass brought together the Marist Fathers, also holding a Chapter, the Marist Sisters, and the Marist Missionary Sisters.

The intentions of the Mass reveal the feelings of the participants. It prayed “for the Congregations born from the Society of Mary, gathered here, and for all who bear the Holy Name of Mary: may they be animated by the zeal to make Jesus known and loved, and may they extend the cult of Mary in the missions where they work. We pray that our fidelity in following Jesus as Mary did will gain for us an increase of vitality and progress”.
A particular intention for those meeting in a General Chapter was mentioned: thanks for “the election of Fr. John Hannan as Superior General of the Marist Fathers”. They also asked the Lord “that the sharing of mission and spirituality with lay people would strengthen and promote the witness of an authentic, simple, and evangelical life among our brothers and sisters”. And the final petition to Mary “that she be for us, once again, a source of faith and hope, as she was for those who founded us, that she be the model and inspiration of a new life in Christ. That she continue to intercede for our communities, our parishes, and our works, so that our wine may not fail, and because all that we have she has given us”. The intercessions were read out in the four languages of the Institute.

The gathering in prayer continued with a meal in the gardens of the house in an atmosphere of good cheer and brotherhood.

Election of the members of the Central Commission

In the evening, the capitulants continued their work and elected the Central Commission of the Chapter. Eight were elected and the Chapter left it to them to choose the offices of Commissioner, Vice Commissioner, and Secretary of the Chapter. The Commission is made up of Brothers: Maurice Berquet (L’Hermitage) Commissioner, Graham Neist (Sydney) Vice Commissioner, Josep Maria Soteras (L’Hermitage) Secretary, Ben Consigli (United States of America), Ernesto Sánchez (México Occidental), João Carlos do Prado (Brasil Centro-Sul), Manuel de León (East Asia), Yao Kouassi Kan Sylvain (West Africa).

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