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30 November

Saint Andrew
1857:foundation of the Missionary Sisters of the Society of Mary (SMSM)
1871: the first Marist Brothers set out for Australia
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Monday, October 5th

 

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Plan for the week remaining

05/10/2009: General House - Photo gallery

At the beginning of the week, the Central Commission explained the plan proposed for the days remaining before the close of the Chapter. It acknowledged the climate of brotherhood reigning, as well as the apprehensions expressed by the capitulants, but hoped that the urgency of the final days would not obstruct the maintenance of fraternal dialogue and the attitude of discernment. Among the initiatives announced by the Commission for this week is that the prayer for each day will centre on one of the themes still to be treated, so that the prayer continues to be integrated into the rhythm of daily work.

To bring together the themes discussed this morning, the work groups were restructured by joining some together. The one studying the finances of the Institute fused with that analyzing the management of the General House. In the same fashion, the group responsible for the theme of government came together with the one studying the Constitutions.

The group preparing the Chapter’s communication to the Marist world is working in three directions. In the first place, it is talking of drafting a “Letter from the Chapter” as a reply to the letters written by the regions. To this letter will be added guidelines for setting the animation of each region on course in the coming years, but with sufficient flexibility to allow for adaptations to local needs. And finally, it is planned to have the Acts of the 21st General Chapter sent to every house. The Central Commission has nominated a group of four responsible for drawing up a summary of what the Chapter is going to communicate to the whole Marist world.

An action under the prophetic sign of the Spirit

The second session of the morning was a brief one, devoted to the official handing over of authority to the new Superior General and his Council. All the personnel of the General House were invited to gather in the chapter hall, together with representatives from the other Marist branches. A ceremony full of symbolism marked the official beginning of the new mandate in the Institute. The ceremony commenced with the reading of the text in which the prophet Elias passes on the power of the Spirit to the prophet Eliseus. Alluding to this text, Brother Sean commented that, just as the prophet disappeared in a chariot of fire, so were they disappearing from the scene, leaving a wake of burning problems for the new General Council. He prayed that the power of the Spirit would help Brother Emili and his Council to find solutions to them.

The new Superior General presented Brother Sean with a beautiful icon of Mary from Mount Athos, painted on a piece of the wood from a kneeler on which the faithful knelt to pray. The gift was meant to show the gratitude of the whole Institute for his service as Vicar and as Superior General. Loud and sustained applause greeted the gesture and words of Brother Emili.

Then Brother Joseph McKee called attention to the activities of the retiring Council in warm and brotherly words. Brother Emili presented each of them with an icon of the “little madonna” of Divine Love together with the one the Marist Family celebrated the beatification of the Spanish martyrs.

The former Superior General, Brother Sean Sammon, and his Vicar, Brother Luis García Sobrado, then approached a little altar presided over by Saint Marcellin Champagnat and Venerable Father Colin. On the table was a “didgeridoo”, a musical instrument used in a spiritual context by the aboriginals of Australia. Among aboriginals, it denotes distinction in rank according to the musical abilities of the one handling it. This was the sign used to express the transmission of authority from the old Council to the new. Brothers Emili Turú and Joseph McKee accepted this sign in front of all present in the chapter hall.

The Brothers of the old council, in their turn, passed on a sign to each of the new Councillors. Brother Eugene received the Constitutions as a compass for finding direction on the voyage; Brothers John Klein and Michael De Was, a statue of the Good Mother; Brother Josep Maria Soteras, a Bible and Brothers Antonio and Ernesto, the cross which Champagnat had on his work table. Brother Emili gave a brief introduction of the new Councillors to those present, and the ceremony concluded with the singing of the Salve. All present were invited to the festive table.

The work of the afternoon

In the afternoon, the group working on the fundamental call reported on progress. In the water of the chapter reflections, salts capable of forming stalactites had already been detected. By means of this metaphor, they indicated that the means for realizing their work were already at hand. They shared with the assembly the phrasing which had been worked out and in which they tried to collect and sythesize the feeling of all the tables. In the same way, they shared a prayer drafted by the group, which invited all Marists to journey towards a new land. Finally, they referred to the image of Mary of the Visitation painted by Brother Tony Leon. All these elements were impregnated with the ideas that had risen in the assembly. The work of this group has thus reached a very interesting stage, although some things still have to receive the finishing touch.

The first session of the afternoon was devoted to studying the report on the finances and management of the General House. The study provided abundant information on the economy, the juridical status, and contractual relationships. The complexities of this house aroused very different reactions among the capitulants. Economic solutions point to a better administration of the resources or to other more drastic alternatives. But it appears that this is not the time for taking decisions by consensus.

The second session was dedicated to approving some minor modifications to various articles of the Constitutions. This was a fast process, thanks to the ease of voting using electronic means. The working group then proposed the study of some modifications which involve changes of greater weight than those previously approved. These modifications will be presented for approval at the next working session.

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