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Extended General Council with Arco Norte (4)

08/03/2012: Guatemala - Photo gallery

Saturday 3 March. Morning prayer was animated by the Brothers of Norandina. Then there was a time for question and answer in the open forum.

The first question referred to the current crisis of vocations. Br Ernesto Sánchez responded that the situation was very varied according to country and Province. From his experience during the visits, it is where a Brother develops a specific work, full or part time, that the response to the Lord is best. Certain Provinces devote 5 Brothers to it; others also rely on lay people in the vocations ministry. In other Provinces, there exist communities open to young people.

In Br Ernesto’s opinion, as Institute it would be better to strengthen the processes of youth ministry and evangelization, with a concrete proposal directed to Marist vocations ministry; that ought to be truly close to our heart. As for the laity, some see them as a « menace » for consacrated life. There are also social changes which make one think of a religious life with simpler forms and expressions... It is necessary to propose the Marist vocation without fear; to believe that there are vocations.

The second question was about the bicentenary of the foundation of the Institute. Br Emili passed the word to Br Eugène who said that it had all got underway with the renovation of the Hermitage as a sign and at the same time a centre of Marist spirituality, a renovation which will continue at La Valla and in the other Marist places. He specified that there is no fixed plan for the celebration. As part of the bicentenary, the Commission of Marist Patrimony plans to compose a history of the Institute; for it to become a reality, it will require the collaboration of all.

Certain questions concerned the revision of the Constitutions. We have all received the new edition. The groups following the spirituality courses at the Escorial or Manziana have been asked to make their contribution in this regard.

There was a question referring to participation in the second Marist Mission Assembly. Brother John Klein said that currently there is a committee of 9  Brothers and lay people to prepare for 2014.

Another question was: What is the General Council’s greatest concern about Arco Norte? Br Joe replied that they had no « great concern », but a certain interest in Arco Norte envisaging the future by thinking along the lines of growing, of strengthening the vitality. To take account of internationality as requested by the General Chapter. Which direction are they going to direct our steps?

The last question concerned the Secretariat of the Laity. Br Antonio Ramalho, as liaison with this Secretariat, spoke about its structuring. As well as the director, Br Javier Espinosa, it counts two co-directors: one in Spain – Ana Sarrate -, and the other in Australia – Tony Clarke. The insertion of others – brothers and laity – to be part of the enlarged council of the Secretariat was approved recently. It is a matter of fostering what the Church and the General Chapter are asking for. Everyone knows that diverse circles of Marist identity exist: from the teaching collaborator to those who feel a call to live their Marist being as a vocation. The document « Around the same table » is a reference for brothers and laity, but it has served also for other congregations. Within the Secretariat there are also the Fraternities. The Champagnat Movement of the Marist Family was included in the Constitutions by the 1985 General Chapter. The types of Fraternity are very varied. Following meetings with the Fraternities, one senses a greater cohesion among them, a respect for different sensibilities and forms.

It was time then to pass to questions or reflections open to the present. The first touched on mission Ad gentes. Br Joe Mc Kee gave a summary of its history up to the present. 7 groups have been prepared with a total of 73 brothers and 7 lay persons, setting out for 6 different countries (2 communities in each country). At present, there remain more than 40 brothers and 5 laity. In January, the General Council had a meeting with Br Luis G. Sobrado, Superior of mission Ad gentes. The Vicar General thinks that a second stage has just been launched. The programme remains valuable, alive, even if there have been understandable defections. For the brothers concerned, despite their cultural and linguistic difficulties, the experience has been a source of interior richness, love of the Marist  vocation and mission.

Profiting by a question about the participation of several congregations of brothers in a course to be organized in Rome, Br Ernesto Sánchez recalled that the Vatican is going to issue a document on the  vocation of religious brothers. As to the course, it is addressed to eight congregations; 6 places have been granted to each congregation, for one does not want it to be too much to manage.

As for the economic model for the financing of the Institute, the General Council has studied the observations of the 18 groups which received the initial plan. In its September session it will take up again the model to be followed, with the contributions received, in order to take the appropriate  decisions.

On the eventual sale of the General House, it was recalled that the International Commission had met last June. The impact of the world economic crisis is being felt. The Commission is meeting again on the 7th of March. Two studies have been made on the matter to date.

After the questions, the participants did a written evaluation of the meeting: structure, services, method and content. Then those who wished to share their reflections were given the floor. Br Emili Turú, Superior General, brought the meeting of the General Council with Arco Norte to a fitting close.

The Provincial of América Central thanked the General Council for their confidence, as well as the  Provincial Councils, brothers and other persons concerned in the organisation and holding of the meeting. A souvenir gift was presented to the General Council and each of the participating Provinces. The assembly then went in procession to the chapel, to say the Our Father and sing a hymn to Mary.

In the evening, the brothers of Guatemala met the Superior General. This gathering was followed by the Eucharist. And finally, there was the place owing to feasting and the traditional music of the country!

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* First day - 29 February
* Second day - 1 March
* Third day - 2 March

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