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A master work-plan for Marist places

 

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General Conference - 21st September

23/09/2005: Sri Lanka

Starting motivation
<289.jpg alt= Sri Lanka – 21.09.2005 hspace=5 vspace=5 align=right>The Conference focussed on a master work-plan for the Hermitage and other Marist places this morning. The session started with a reflection from the Superior General on the audacity of Champagnat in building the Hermitage. Among other things, he said that Champagnat was someone who had dreams and built his dreams with his own hands.
The Hermitage is a place of pilgrimage and as such is a privileged place. All the history of the Institute is alive here and this house has been converted bit by bit to maintain this history.
The project speaks of spirituality and interior renovation. The history, the cost and the usefulness of what we want to do all concern us but what would the Founder do with this project? No doubt he would want it to be a place where young people can be enlightened. Thus the conclusion was to “let’s do this project with vision and future zeal!”

Presentation of the origin of the project and its philosophy
Brother Luis García Sobrado, Vicar General, gave a brief history of the process up to the present stage. The Hermitage has been the Motherhouse, the General House, Provincial House, House of Formation, Retreat House, etc. Brother Basilio Rueda concluded the first management accord between the General Administration and the Province of the Hermitage. This project was born in this accord.

Stages of development of the project
June 2004 – Meeting of Committee: Province of L’Hermitage and the General Administration.
January 2005 – Study of the Committee’s work-plan by the General Council.
April 2005 - Consultation with Provincials. Responses from Amazônia, Brasil Centro-Sur, Canada, China, Compostela, Cruz del Sur, Europe Centre-Ouest, Korea, y Rio Grande del Sur. Other Provinces contributed afterwards.
June 2005 – Committee’s final plan.
August 2005 – Study of the plan by the Provincial Council of L’Hermitage with Brothers Luis García Sobrado and Maurice Berquet, from the General Council.
September 2005 – Consultation at the General Conference.

The master plan
A master plan requires that one has well reflected on the needs in order to establish lines of action that one develops by stages in order to arrive at coherent results and that one uses intellectual and economic resources well.
Brother Maurice Berquet presented this plan which includes all the buildings of the Hermitage: reception, chapel, spaces reserved for hospitality, Le Rocher, Le Cèdre, the laundry and its annexes, the kitchen and Les Sources which is found in front of the main entrance. The activities at la Valla, le Rosey and les Maisonnettes are also to be included.
The renovation of all of this is not a new idea as a reflection has been undertaken for several years concerning our charism and our identity at the start of the 21st century. The aims of the plan are to find, clarify and present the historical memory of the places, to adapt the places for the users’ needs, to transform Route Champagnat into a spiritual experience of high quality, to centralise the services and to consolidate the buildings.

The underlying philosophy
It is not a matter of just bringing the house up-to-date with today’s needs. We confuse sometimes ‘accommodate’ with ‘adapt’. Accommodate means to harmonise with the needs of the moment without too much worry about the identity that could be affected or diminished. On the contrary, adapting is to bring up-to-date in all the senses of the word with the idea of maintaining the identity. That is especially true for the Hermitage due to its symbolic and spiritual value for many brothers.
May the place be more open to brothers and laypeople so that they can be formed in the charism of Marcellin! May it present the history, not to encourage nostalgia for the past, but to inspire what is new in the Institute! May the expression ‘journey’ take on its more spiritual meaning of growth!

Propositions and finance
It is proposed to create a principal access to the Hermitage on the northern façade, under the chapel, for all who arrive at the Hermitage. The central courtyard will be covered with a transparent roof high enough to create a large interior space which will serve as a meeting point and a departure point for all the places of the house. The kitchen will be situated outside of the historic buildings. The laundry will be converted and enlarged with a new construction to accommodate the dining room and one of the historical places by a corridor. The community spaces for relaxation, eating and prayer will be grouped together on the first level of Le Cèdre. The first floor will be dedicated totally to the Champagnat circuit.
An international and intercultural community will be formed to look after hospitality and the animation of visitors, but without being the community of Marist researchers as has been the case up til now.
At la Valla, the school will continue to function where it is. The spaces of the former boarding school, the chapel and the construction effected in 1822 beside the Bonaire house will be spaces for hospitality and a museum.
At Marlhes, the areas for hospitality and meetings that already exist will be improved and at les Maisonnettes the structures will be strengthened.
The Province of L’Hermitage, conscious of looking after one of its houses, is committed to covering two-thirds of the work costs. The other third will be charged to the General Administration and the Provinces.

Reflection in inter-regional groups
The brothers reflected on the following questions: With what aspects of the <289a.jpg alt=Sri Lanka – 21.09.2005 >project do I identify? What aspects concern me? What is the project lacking? Do I think that my Council and the brothers and laypeople of my Province will be interested by this project?
It was noted that the plan was a result of a serious and deep study. All the groups agreed with the philosophy that inspires this enthusiastic project. Some Provincial said they were unaware of how their Province would react. On the contrary, others thought that they would see the changes as favourable, but it will be more difficult to energise its use. Others focussed on the cost. The economic efforts and the contribution of brothers to form the international community appears difficult to some Provinces. If we find it difficult to contribute to the XX General Chapter Solidarity Fund, it seems unrealistic to dream about another contribution. “We are amazed that the Province of L’Hermitage can contribute two-thirds of the cost,” said one group, “but it will be a gift to future generations.” Someone also suggested including lay co-workers in the hospitality community.

A free afternoon
Even though the timetable had planned a free afternoon, all the brothers were well occupied writing reports of which some will be used for a special edition of FMS Message on the Conference. Other Provincials had private correspondence to attend to.

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