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4 December

Saint John Damascene and John Calabria
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Regionalisation facilitates co-operation and collaboration

 

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New perspectives for the Administrative Units of Africa

20/12/2006: Kenya

The last day of the Extended General Council Meeting in Kenya was consecrated to regionalisation, defined by the Chapter of 1993 as a process thanks to which the Administrative Units of the Institute regroup to facilitate a better co-operation and collaboration amongst themselves. It is a matter of a supple and adaptable process, according to the needs, but which does not establish any new Administrative Units in the Institute. Brother Luis Sobrado, who started the reflection, recalled that the last General Chapter recommended “that Brothers be enabled to move easily from one Province to another for the sake of projects of solidarity, evangelisation and education. (Chapter 2001) n. 46

In order to help the reflection on the subject, various members of the General Council shared experiences from the various regions of the Institute.

Brother Emili Turú presented the experience of Europe (the European Conference of Provincials) as well as the evolution that the Spanish Marist Conference has realised; this conference was created when Spain had seven Provinces and has now adopted a far more supple form, at the service of the communities and apostolic works in Spain, after a service of more than thirty years.

Brother Antonio Ramalho noted that in America, the Latin American Conference of Provincials has functioned since 1979, embracing Arco Norte, Cono Sur and Brazil. With the geographical and administrative restructuring realised in this region, (2004 Los Teques, Venezuela), the Inter-American Conference of Provincials was created to share a common vision of the problems of the region, support and mutual enrichment and the exchange of ideas and of brothers in maintaining the geographical structure of three super regions: Arco Norte, Cono Sur and Brazil. The regular meetings of Provincials, by region or by small area, co-ordinate initial and ongoing formation, the network of Marist Apostolic Spirituality, youth and vocations ministry, laity, education, solidarity and finances. There are also meetings and other frequent activities relative to many areas.

Brother Peter Rodney, who knows the Pacific region very well, presented the regionalisation of this territory and the practical way that the brothers are organising the region through the Oceania Council annexed by the Provinces of Melbourne, of Sydney and of New Zealand and the District of Melanesia, born in March 2004. They are organised in five commissions: apostolate, fraternity, solidarity, formation and finances. They have to confront difficulties such as communication, geographical distances, political instability of a part of the region, a variety of economies and money in developing countries and different languages. Among the common projects that they are encouraging, there is the “Bougainville Educational Capacity Building Project”, a project of educational formation for the community.

Brother Peter also explained the experience of Asia. In this continent, even though no formal regional structure has been created, a common functioning is maintained with MAPAC and initial formation (Sri Lanka – Pakistan – India) and the Provinces of China, of the Philippines and the District of Korea, collaborating with the Project of China.

Brother Kalisa offered an historical synthesis of the journey travelled by the brothers of Africa, inviting the Administrative Units to confront the future with creativity. Regionalisation in Africa is realised especially in formation. The “Marist International Center” (MIC), in Nairobi has been, since 1986, the place of formation of brothers during the twenty years existence of MIC: currently it hosts more than eighty brothers from five Administrative Units of the African continent. The essential data of this collaboration in the domain of formation follows:

West Africa:
1975: The novices of Ivory Coast go to Nigeria
1979: The novices of Cameroon go to Nigeria
1985: The novitiate of Kumasi for Guinea.
1990: The novitiate of Kumasi is international (Ghana, Nigeria, Ivory Coast and Cameroon)
Southern Africa:
1984: The novices of Malawi go to Kabwe.
1985 and 86: The novices of Zimbabwe and of Mozambique participate in the novitiate of Kabwe.
1986: The novitiate of Kabwe moves to Kutama.
East Central Africa:
Since 1979: The novices of Rwanda, Congo, Central African Republic, Cameroon, Ivory Coast and Angola go to the novitiate of Save or of Nyangezi.

Finally, Brother Emili Turú explained another type of regionalisation, which puts into collaboration not only the Administrative Units amongst themselves, but with regions or continents as is the experience of the Continental Mission Teams. According to Brother Emili, these teams have achieved different realisations that favour the creation of a global mentality in the Institute. And then he detailed the activities carried out and achieved on the different continents. He highlighted the implementation of the Mission team for Africa from the 26th to the 28th October at Accra (Ghana), in the District House, in which two priorities were concretised: the laity and youth ministry.

With this basic institutional setting, the evaluation of the Conference of Superiors from the African Continent was shared, in which it was mentioned that “the Conference had brought about especially the maintenance and improvement of MIC”.
Some considered it an advantage that “the number of members of the Conference has been reduced”, while others thought “it seems desirable that the number of members be increased” so that there is more pluralism in contributions.
Among the challenges that the Conference must confront, one noted the meetings for those seeking vocations to foster “vocation ministry”, “initial formation” and “ongoing formation”.
Among the obstacles for a good functioning of the Conference the lack of funds was highlighted, funds for planning independent projects; also highlighted were the “distances that cause long and costly journeys.”

Read more:
Extended General Council Meeting in Africa
Taking the pulse of the finances
Marist Africa and restructuring
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