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Together for vitality



Extended General Council with Arco Norte (1)

02/03/2012: Guatemala - Photo gallery

The meeting of the General Council and the Councils of the Provinces of Arco Norte (Canada, United States, Mexico Central, Mexico Occidental, America Central and Norandina) began on 29 February around 9 am with a welcome from the pupils of the « Liceo Guatemala », to the tune of « One heart, one mission », and the dance of the many coloured flags of the countries represented.

Br Emili Turú, Superior General, first of all thanked the Province of America Central for the preparation of the meeting and the work behind the scenes, including that of the translators.

He explained the meeting’s logo: the spheres representing the Provinces and the Institute, through the General Council, the yellow arch referring to the meeting in course, and the green jade representing a face.

This is a Mayan symbol of a « nahual », symbol of the sun god, the Mayan god of the vital powers of fertility, and harmonizing wonderfully with the motto: « Together for vitality ».

Br Emili then thanked each for his presence and explained the meaning of an « Extended Council » from the chapter documents.

He referred to the General Council and its function of animation and government of the Institute, and explained that the principal work of the General Administration is the accompaniment of the leaders of the Provinces and Districts. This is the first time a General Chapter used the term « Extended Council », an expression which has thus become official. Its objective is to « accompany the Provincial and District Councils and to keep up to date with the situation of the Region ».

It is also an opportunity to express the diversity and exercise co-responsibility in the government of the Institute. Br Emili also referred to a « hatstand » where « we hang up our hat » of the Province to put on the one of the Region, not always easy.

There were three objectives. The first was to get to know, share, analyse the situations of the  Provinces of the Region. The second was to move towards a common Regional approach, to try to dream our way together. And the third was to try to find possible orientations for the future in fraternal dialogue, to listen to what the Lord would say to us.

Each of the Provinces then gave a presentation in response to three questions: 1) What does the data tell us? 2) What are we devoting our best efforts to? 3) What do we want to insist on for the future of the Region?

The data presented by the Provinces related to: number of Brothers,  provenance, median age, lay presence, distribution of communities and works, number of pupils and their social class, modalities of organisation of the Provincial Council, courses and aims, expectations and hopes.

The superior general intervened in the afternoon to « broaden » the dialogue and reflection. Be aware, above all, of the phenomenon prevailing on the international level: a globalised world. An ambivalent phenomenon, with spectacular successes and brutal inequalities. What does this mean for us?  

What is it that the Holy Spirit is in train of saying to us through this immensely complex reality? It is not something to take or leave because we are plunged in it.

The report to the General Chapter said it already: the Institute is more strongly multinational and multicultural, this being understood in a «prophetic sense» aimed at promoting an alternative and not simply economic  globalisation.

But there also exist in the Institute « tribal » mentalities; in some Provinces and among many Brothers, a local vision, and not an international one, is dominant. « We need a new mentality, a new approach to what it means to be members of an international Institute.

And also the consequences which follow for the development of our mission at the present time »... Interaction and interdependence are required of us.

Br Superior General referred to the social context of violence which keeps on growing. Nelson Mandela signed the introduction of the report to the United Nations:

« The 20th century will be recalled as a century marked by violence... Less visible but even more widespread is the heritage of individual and daily suffering, the pain of children mistreated by those who should protect them,  women harmed or humiliated by violent partners, elderly people mistreated by their carers, young people intimidated by other young people, and persons of all ages who act violently against themselves.

The new generations learn from the violence of previous generations, victims learn from their aggressors and the continuation of social conditions which foster violence is allowed.

No country, no city, no community is spared from violence, but neither are we defenceless in the face of it. » It is a matter of a « culture of violence »; it is what seems to have the last word.

One way of regulating conflict is to put up barriers, borders – the syndrome of apartheid. What else to do?

A third period of Br Emili’s reflection dealt with the need to look at things in a little more systematic way. « The trees prevent us from seeing the forest ».

Concerned with my own situation, I sometimes do not see the whole clearly enough. We are more and more aware of the complexity of reality.

Each  aspect affects all. This is how nature fonctions in the cycles of water, air, animals and plants, among them, as well as the different systems operating in a person: skin, glands, urinary system, muscles...

Each interacts with the others. Saint Paul reminds us: we are a body, and we are all members of one another, each one working towards the common good.

Even cells develop a sort of social identity for the good of the whole organism. And when they lose this identity, they act in a blind and undifferentiated way, capable of threatening the life of the entire organism: this is cancer.

In conclusion, he issued an invitation to a sense of international community, as at Pentecost; a sense of dialogue, of listening, of openness, based on the principles of subsidiarity, co-responsibility, interculturality and pluriculturality, indicated by the General Chapter.

Br Emili’s words were followed by time for shared reflection in groups. At the end of the day, we took part in a Eucharist, thanking God for the reality of the Region as well as the light and strength received to be able to move forward together to a new vitality.

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