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VIII General Conferenze

21/05/2007: General House

The brothers have started the works of the VIII General Conference in Rome, putting themselves in the hands of the Holy Spirit and of the Good Mother during the Mass celebrated in the main chapel of the house and presided over by Father Jan Hulshof, Superior General of the Marist Fathers.

In the ambiance of the “sala Champagnat” they heard the warm words of welcome that Brother Seán Sammon, Superior General, dedicated to all present, wishing them efficient work in order to reclaim the spirit of the Hermitage and to pass it on, with fire and passion, through the Marist leadership that they exercise in the animation of their Provinces and Districts.

The brothers received a booklet with five exercises to be completed. These exercises are meant to foster personal reflection with each one of them related to change, leadership, restructuration and regionalisation.

Fifteen years ago, the 19th General Chapter implemented a process that would finally become a world effort for the restructuring of the Institute. Decisions can be quick but the processes that involve people are slower. Restructuring, at first, changed many things: the geographical configuration, territorial composition, Province structures, an increase in the number of brothers, of works, of houses and of communities. This increase has not come in a progressive way or step by step but rather all at once. All these changes have directly affected the government structures of every Administrative Unit, such that a Provincial who previously had to look after one Province now has assumed the government of a reality that is twice or three times bigger in extent and number of works and of brothers.

The second phase of the process, that is to say the task of building new Administrative Units, is slowly developing in various regions of the Institute through new models of government, animation and management in order to accompany with a new style the brothers and communities as well as the works.

The role of the Provincial has been affected in a particular way by restructuring such that the service of the Provincial has become more complicated: more brothers, new possibilities, more resources, different schemes…, to respond to the expectations and projects, to accompany an increased number of brothers, etc. in order to make a Province that is a home for all in which we live with one heart and one spirit. All in all, a Province that specifically and harmoniously pronounces consecrated life dedicated to mission. In some Provinces, the Brother Provincial has successfully delegated his duties in an effective way without any lack of involvement or concern on his part, remaining informed about all that is happening. On the contrary, in other Provinces they have not found structures more appropriate for energising consecrated life and mission.

Restructuring has provoked different answers in the brothers, but the result in general has been very positive. For the majority of the brothers, it has been a positive change, because they have accomplished the formulation of a “common Provincial horizon”, with consistent options. These decisions have generated a positive Provincial climate based on a clear sense of belonging to the Province. For others, on the contrary, there has been a block and they have rejected restructuring or the way in which this has been carried out, but these are in the minority.

This is the reality and these are the challenges that the participants in the VIII General Conference have to face. These reflections have been shared in small groups where the richness of the internationality of the Institute has been obvious. The sharing has reflected the concern of the brothers to assure a leadership which leads the Institute and its mission, as well as its members and all the Marist laity to a new life.

We are at an historic moment in which the task of the leaders together with the brothers and laypeople is to plan the future that we can now foresee, to sow the seed of the Kingdom and to turn the dream of many brothers and laypeople into a reality.

One of the realities that most encourage the Brothers Provincial and District Superiors is the sense of the consecration of the brothers, their participation and co-responsibility and a hopeful fidelity.

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