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New perspectives for Marist regionalisation

 

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VIII General Conference

30/05/2007: General House

Today’s chronicle summarises the work of two days as the subject has been the same during the sessions: regionalisation, its concept, the vision we have about it, the configuration that it has been given in the Institute and what should be done in each region. The term “regionalisation” refers to the process through which the Administrative Units of the Institute come together in order to foster mutual co-operation and collaboration. This is a flexible process that can be adapted to the needs of the Administrative Units, without creating new ones.

The participants were helped by the experiences of four large religious Institutes present throughout the whole world: Capuchins, Brothers of the Christian Schools, Society of the Divine Word and Jesuits. By means of a document it was possible to analyse the vision that inspires these institutions, the geographical configuration they have given to their regions and the different actions that they perform at a regional level. These examples confirm that the regionalisation process is being gradually assumed by all the religious Institutes as an efficient means for the government and animation of religious life today. In the adopted geographical configuration we can glimpse a general trend to have extended regions, with the possibility that groups of Provinces with common interests and needs, form sub-regions inside the extended region.

In the light of our own experience

Together with these four institutional references that were helpful in enlightening the reflection, the participants shared the experience of two regional structures of our Institute implemented after the 20th General Chapter: the Oceania Council and the CIAP (Inter-American Conference of Provincials).

The Oceania Council has developed in five stages. The first stage, initiated in 1977, consisted of meetings of representatives of the Administrative Units of the region, which finished with a meeting of all the Council of the Pacific in which the question of the regionalisation of structures arose.

The second stage had two decisive phases. The first, in 1999, with the regional Council of the Pacific, where they proposed to begin a process to form one sole Administrative Unit in the Pacific region. In the second, one year later, the Council fixed the date for this objective for before the end of 2003.

The third stage began in 2001, with an interchange of visits and meetings between the different Administrative Units. The fourth led to the creation of five commissions and the substitution of the Pacific Council by the Oceania Council. In the fifth stage in 2007, the Oceania Council was completed with the appointment of various commissions entrusted with specific tasks.

The Inter-American Conference of Provincials and District Superiors (CIAP), previously the Latin-American Conference of Provincials. This organism was created in Rome in October 1979 on the occasion of the General Conference, in order to foster the renewal of religious life as called for by the Second Vatican Council. In the 10th Latin-American Conference, celebrated in Los Teques (Venezuela) in August 2004, the Provincials and the District Superiors of Latin America and Canada, the Vice-Provincials of the Latin-American Provinces and the delegate of the Provinces of the Unites States met. Thus, in this way the CIAP was officially constituted in the context of America, as fruit of the reorganisation of Provinces in the whole Institute.

The Conference members thus had the opportunity to have a better knowledge of what is happening in the five Marist regions: America, Europe, Africa, Asia and Oceania. It is now a matter of discovering the advantages that this structure brings for the future, making the adaptations judged to be opportune. For that, they were asked to indicate what actions must be developed in the regions and which ones must be undertaken in each of the Administrative Units.

The pooling of these reflections was done by noting the most significant reactions during a round table conference composed of six brothers. This work was continued during the afternoon in small regional groups so as to define possible solutions for the future.

Two more experiences to contribute ideas

On Wednesday 30th May, two institutional realities were presented that have had a long gestation in reaching their present structures: UMBRASIL and CME.

UMBRASIL was created in Brasilia on the 15th October 2005, but the project had dragged on in the meetings of the Provincials of Brazil for preparing the special Chapter of 1967 – 1968. The objective of this organism is to co-ordinate and to encourage processes of mutual co-operation between the three Marist Provinces and the District of Amazônia, in the civil setting, and between the nine “mantenedoras” which give legal existence to the Marist works in the country. The “mantenedora” is a juridical figure of the Brazilian legislation. The Provinces and the District are represented in the organisms in which decisions are made which are constrained by consensus. This organism gives visibility to the “Marist” trademark and action, facilitates the interrelation of life and mission, causes actions and initiatives at the national level and fosters management in the processes and resources. The headquarters of the organism is in Brasilia and functions with a permanent Secretary, an Assembly in which all the Provincial Councils take part, a superior Council formed by the Provincials and Vice-Provincials, a Board of Directors, a fiscal Council and a stable inter-Provincial community.

CME is the acronym of the Marist Conference of Provinces of works in Spain. The origin of CME goes back to the former Marist Assistance of Spain, assured by a Brother Assistant General. With the process of restructuring the seven Provinces of Spain have disappeared and four new ones have appeared with geographical borders that include countries other than Spain. In 2006, the Statutes currently in force were approved, having been adapted to the new Marist reality of Spain.

The essential objective of CME is to look after the common interests of the Province members to encourage cohesion between them, to facilitate collaboration with the Church in the country and the relationship with the Institute itself, with the Superior General and his Council, as well as promoting solidarity in the objective of the calls of the Institute, co-ordination and mutual support in the domains of reflection and activity, and finally, to develop common activities. CME has its own Statutes that it can modify or suppress if necessary.

These realities have helped in having a general vision of the Marist world and in knowing the responses that have been given to the needs that have appeared in the regions. The reflection of the VIII General Conference is an invitation to formulate propositions that will be studied more thoroughly during the next General Chapter.

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