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Maryknoll NY - North America

20/11/2004: United States

Thursday 18th November.
Today was a very intense day, not only because of the timetable followed but also because of the topic of discussion.
The day started with the Liturgy of the Word reminding us of Jesus weeping over Jerusalem with these words that each participant felt was directed at him: “If only you had recognised the Lord when he came to visit you!” This meeting is truly a time of encountering God through the gifts of the brothers.
In the first meeting the Superior General took up again briefly the idea that had set the course for restructuring from 1993 onwards. He recalled that it is not a strategy of government for survival or for being able to continue to do the things we have always done, but an opportunity for inventing a new style of life that is more dynamic and thus more purposeful and credible. Following on from this concept, restructuring is not a matter of redesigning a new geographical map of the Marist world, but aims to bring about a revolution in mind and heart. Brother Seán also recalled how the 900 brothers who left France in 1903 were the agents of the first restructuring that gave the Institute a breath of fresh air enabling it to not only save itself but also to expand greatly.
Following this, the Vicar General presented the criteria for viability that, according to the General Council, may lead to a greater vitality. In particular Luis emphasised:
Solidarity: each Province is responsible for the life of all the other Administration Units of the Institute;
Attention to the quality of life and of mission;
A minimum number of brothers (100);
A balance between the various age groups (40% less than 60 years of age);
Inculturation and multiculturalism.

The two Provincial Councils discussed these criteria calmly and seriously, from the perspective of their current situation. Then, in the total group, they shared the two realities, that of Canada with its 193 brothers with an average age of 73 years and that of the United States of America with its 215 brothers with an average age of 63 years.
At the end of the meeting all agreed that this topic is of capital importance for the future life of the respective Provinces and that, above all else, this area must be confronted decisively as the solution cannot be postponed until later.
The final effort of the day saw the participation of all in developing a list of points that can encourage or hinder life. A common list was achieved, with which all agreed is the starting point for developing strategies for the future. And in the midst of problems, difficulties and worries, each person thought about the proverb that reminds us that if we want to plough a straight furrow, we have to tie the plough to a star.
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