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Fifth week of sessions in sight

05/10/2009: General House

The elections to the General Council took place on the 2nd and 3rd of October. One of the specific tasks of the Chapter is to elect the Superior General, his Vicar, and the Councillors. This concluded, a new page is turned in the chapter agenda. This break signals a change of theme in the activities of the Chapter.

Feelings and appraisals

The first meeting after the constitution of the team, which will govern the Institute for the next eight years, served as an opportunity for each of the capitulants to share at the tables his state of mind about the stretch of road remaining to be travelled. The contributions from the tables indicate a double direction as far as feelings and experiences are concerned. A glance backwards sees the past lived together in Rome for the space of a month. Feelings demonstrate that there is great general satisfaction at having shared life lived together in brotherhood. Brothers experience feelings of peace, optimism faced with the future, and hope. The find themselves happy with the good spirit that has reigned. All indicate that there has been a very good atmosphere and a formidable spirit of brotherhood and collaboration. They also say that the method of work has been excellent. The Central Commission has done a fine job. Life has been lived with emphasis on internationality and brotherhood. The style of work has been a revelation for many Brothers. They have come to value the importance of dialogue and methodology for arriving at agreement for consensus.

The second line of reflection, however, indicates apprehension and fears. There is great concern about how to communicate their experiences to the Marist world. One table uses the metaphor of travelling in a plane. “We have had a good flight, but now we have to make a safe landing”. The allusion is to the formulas of the past, which have been good for the time, but now need new ways of expressing the life, feelings and thinking of the Chapter. How to carry all this in meaningful form when we return home? How to give expression to this beautiful experience? There are many experiences very personal, and also collective, which cannot be put down in writing, which are carried in the soul. But the necessity is also seen of having something to refer to which expresses the feeling of all. One capitulant says: “When I return to my province, I can explain what I have experienced personally, but I need something which sums up what we have lived as a Chapter and which carries the signatures of all”. This underlines, perhaps, the necessity of drafting something, that expresses in a significant way the experience of all, which each can take away. This is the task requiring to be done. Some lines of methodology have already appeared for moving towards a synthesis of the work achieved up to today.

Personal interventions in the assembly

Once the tables had made their contributions, another of the methodologies used by the Central Commission was put into practice: making the microphone available to anyone who wished to express himself in person to the assembly.

A first intervention alluded to how to realize the transmission of the chapter to the Marist world, completing what had been said at the tables. The Chapter has made efficacious use of the method of consensus for reaching agreement. Applying this methodology successfully has been an historic contribution to our capitular praxis in the way topics are treated. One way of disseminating what has been lived at the Chapter may be to disseminate and use this methodology. It would be to desire that the Marist world start using the consensus method instead of the parliamentary method as the usual way of treating topics.

Other interventions mentioned vocations ministry. This ministry had not up to now been raised in the assembly. Faced with the final stretch of work, one had a more global vision of what needed to be reflected on. Vocations ministry had not stopped being a concern in the heart of many Brothers. They insisted that in our time the cry of Champagnat: “We need Brothers” was also relevant.
All the concerns expressed were noted by the Central Commission, which is responsible for organizing the daily work of the assembly.

The General Council holds its first work meeting

The Brother Councillors have scarcely had time to receive congratulations on their election. Brother Emili called them together for their first session of council work on the afternoon of Saturday, 3 October. Three Provincials still in office form part of the new General Council, as well as the Vicar General. The Council has to appoint the Brother Provincials. The task of initiating the sondage process in the Province and finding the names of the Brothers who will succeed them in this post will be among the other items on the agenda of the new General Council.

The work session began in the chapel of the Superiors, before the statue of our Good Mother and the reliquary of Saint Marcellin, with a prayer asking the Holy Spirit for light.

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