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Marist Bulletin - Number 156



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Having completed its visit to the Pacific region, the General Council held a plenary session from June 1st to July 2nd. As it always does at these meetings in Rome, the Council devoted time to strengthening its community life, whether by revising and updating its Plan for community living or spending time together.
Now that more than two and a half years have gone by since their election by the 20th General Chapter, during this plenary session Council members evaluated their work during this period. To help plan for the remaining years of their term, they shared their vision of the Congregation. In particular they looked at the type of visit to Administrative Units that would be most helpful during from 2005 to 2009.
The Council spent time examining restructuring in the Institute. It looked at the work it’s been doing with Provinces already restructured, and also at the accompaniment it is giving to regions where dialogue is taking place, especially in the Pacific and Asia.
As it has during previous plenary sessions, the Council continued to study the topic of our mission ad gentes, eager to get a clearer understanding of what this means for our Institute today, and convinced that it can become for us a wellspring of dynamism.
Here are other topics that the Council addressed:


a) The Management Council (Gestion) of the General House
The General Council invited the Gestion to join it for meetings in order to learn more about the progress being made on several topics that Gestion members were asked to study. One such topic was the availability of medical insurance for each brother in the General Administration. The Management Council has undertaken a comparative study of various alternatives now on the market.
Given the inclusion of the General House in the new regulatory Plan of Rome, possibilities for building and selling part of the property are under consideration. The Gestion is taking a closer look at this Plan put forth by Rome’s municipal government.

b) General Administration Community
Following its official visit to the General Administration community at the end of May, the General Council named Brother Luis García Sobrado, Vicar General, as its “link” Councilor for that community.

c) Personnel Manual
After a long process coordinated by Brother Jean Ronzon, Secretary General, the brothers of the General Administration have come up with a written description of the roles and functions in each department and service. The Council has approved the Manual’s flow chart and contents. The Manual follows this outline: definition of the mission of the General Administration, job descriptions, policies, and procedures.

All the members of the Preparatory Commission for the Conference met throughout this plenary session: Brothers Luis Sobrado, Peter Rodney, Pedro Herreros, Jean Ronzon, and Mervyn Perera, (who was attending a renewal course in Manziana), representing Sri Lanka. They adopted criteria for Conference participants and translators, and worked on an initial draft of objectives and procedures for the Conference.

Last May a team consisting of Brothers Antonio Ramalho, Wency Calimpon, Javier Espinosa, and Christian Gisamonyo carried out a study of the International College. They did so on behalf of the General Council, upon whom this formation center depends. The team developed some proposals about the future of the College. Based on its study, the Council appointed a new team to support the College’s efforts to implement the proposals for its revitalization. A report will be presented to Provincials during the General Conference.

From June 16th to the 24th the General Council held meetings with new Provincials: Brothers Claudino Falchetto (North Central Brazil), Laurentino Albalá (North Andean Province), Víctor Preciado (Western Mexico), Fernando Mejía (Central Mexico), John Klein (United States), Manny de Leon (Philippines), Carl Tapp (New Zealand), and Demetrio Espinosa (Southern Cross Province).
Days of hard work together. Provincials had the opportunity to interact with the different sections of the General Administration. With the help of presentations by Brother Superior General and members of some of the Commissions and services of the General Administration, this was an excellent time for the Provincials to reflect, pray, and share concerns about their service of leadership and government in the Institute.

The General Council has been scheduling periodic evaluations of the different organizations that depend on the General Administration. During this session it was BIS’s turn after being in operation for eight years. The evaluation took place between December 2003 and June 2004, conducted by Brother Chris Wills (Sydney), Sister Caroline Price (Good Shepherd Sister), and Mr. Pablo Villalba (SED, Spain).
Their report included nine chapters with recommendations, covering the two great objectives of BIS: on the one hand, defense of the rights of the child and advocacy for just causes; and on the other, funding projects. The Council wholeheartedly endorsed the report as a basis for elaborating a Strategic Plan to facilitate implementing its recommendations. The team appointed to draw up this Plan consists of Brothers Juan Miguel Anaya, Dominick Pujia, Peter Rodney, and Emili Turú. A preliminary outline of the Plan will be presented at the plenary session in January 2005.
The General Council also decided to establish an accord to work with Franciscans International, an NGO accredited by the United Nations, with headquarters in Geneva and New York, a body that represents the different branches of the Franciscan family. It’s hoped that collaboration will get underway in January 2005.

The Council approved a preliminary working document dealing with holding an International Assembly for Marist Mission in 2007 (part of the Mission Commission’s Action Plan, available on the Institute’s web page). This document will serve as a point of departure for the work of the Assembly’s Preparatory Commission, which will be named soon. Its first meeting will take place next December. The complete Project will be examined in June 2005.

The leadership teams for these programs were in Rome during this plenary session and presented the formation programs they have developed:

a) Community leaders, program in English: Brothers Desmond Howard and Barry Burns will direct this course in Nemi, from March 2nd to April 30th 2005.

b) Community leaders, program in Spanish and Portuguese: Brothers Javier Espinosa and José F. Calleja will direct two sessions of this program, scheduled for El Escorial, from February 10th to April 10th and April 28th to June 26th 2005.

c) Formators: Brothers Enrique Escobar, Barry Burns, and Antoine Kazindu will direct this program in Nairobi, Kenya from August 2005 until June 2006.

The poster to accompany our Marist Vocation Year is at the printers right now. Provinces are sending us their plans for their celebrations. In Rome the General Council will open the Year with a pilgrimage to a Marian shrine in Viterbo, la Madonna della Quercia. Joining the Council will be the communities from the General Administration, International College, San Leone Magno, and Viterbo. The Council is making plans for a January meeting at the Hermitage with youth from all over Europe.

The General Council received a report on the work done by the International Commission for Patrimony at its first meeting in May. The group was established last January. Chaired by Br. André Lanfrey, its members have taken charge of directing and planning for “Marist Notebooks,” which Br. Paul Sester had previously done almost single-handedly. This team will coordinate translations to be made of the basic texts of our Marist Spiritual Patrimony. The group plans to publish two new volumes of “sources” in the next two years: “Writings of M. Champagnat” (all except his Letters, already published), and “Manuscripts of Brothers François and Jean- Baptiste.”

Br. Antonio Martínez, Econome General, presented several reports to the Council: on the Institute’s Funds; on adherence to the 2004 budgets; and on a study made by the Institute’s Commission for Economic Affairs to develop a financial plan for the General Administration.

Br. Alfredo Villanueva of the Iberian Province has been named Administrator of El Escorial, and Br. Elías Peña, from the same Province, his assistant.

Finally, it should be mentioned that during this plenary session the General Council invited Brothers Gerry Brereton, João Fagherazzi, Henri Reocreux, and Lluis Serra to a fraternal get-together and supper to express its thanks for their years of service to the Institute as members of the General Administration community.

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