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Marist Bulletin - Number 160



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Brother Lluís Serra finishes six years as Director of Communications.

In August, I hand over the responsibilities of Director of Communications of the Marist Institute to Brother Onorino Rota. In doing so, I finish six years of service to the General Administration. This work has brought me into contact with you every week and lately, through the web site, every day and so I did not want to return to Catalonia in the Province of LHermitage without writing a final farewell bulletin. In this bulletin, I want to give an account of my six years work as Director of Communications.

To begin with, two exciting tasks
The construction of a collective project is nourished by the weaving together of personal decisions. Six years ago, I was called to the General House to be responsible for the publications of the Institute and to be part of the organising team for the canonisation of Marcellin. The first task was a continuation of something that already existed; the second task was exceptional as it was the first canonisation for the Marist Brothers and indeed was the one and only canonisation of the founder of this congregation. The first task was to last for three years and could be extended; the second task was to last hardly a year. The first task consisted of developing a long-term project; the second task was centred in organising a deeply meaningful celebration for the universal Church. The first task moved at a gradual pace; the second task was frenetic, racing against the clock. In early January 1999, the Pope confirmed the date of the canonisation as the 18th April, which gave us little more than three months to accomplish our task. I am grateful to Brother Benito, the then Superior General, and to his Council for the confidence they showed in me by entrusting to me this task that has greater media repercussions than other tasks realised by the majority of brothers in the world. This is not to say that this task is more valuable than any other, since we Marists judge the importance of a task by other criteria. I am also grateful to Brother Seán and to his Council for confirming this confidence.

Feelings at this time of the changing of the guard
This time of handing over the baton to Brother Onorino, with whom I have shared a great friendship since the days we were members together of the organising team of the canonisation, has coincided with a period of intense activity in the service of Communications. The inauguration and development of the Web site as well as attending to various publications, included among them FMS Message 33 that will arrive in the communities in September or October, have generated much work. I feel fulfilled when I glimpse in the future my dreams and enthusiasm for this work taking shape. On the other hand, when I was tidying my office, I found hundreds of papers and photos. Many memories from these six years came back to me; such as the positioning in the Vatican of the statue of Champagnat sculptured by Jiménez Deredia. I was deeply moved by the feelings that accompanied these memories. It surprised me to see how much has been accomplished. I have worked with many people and I am grateful to all who have given me their collaboration, to all who have translated original texts into other languages, to all who have contributed their texts and photos, to all who have written notes and letters, to all who have breathed life into this work. It is formidable to see a collective work shaped by the contributions of so many.

Three axes of the action plan: project, team and change
The plan for Marist Communications presented to the General Council is an ambitious plan with a great deal of scope for development. The three main axes of this plan are the project, the team and change.

- The project of Marist Communications is to develop around Champagnat a worldwide meeting place for evangelisation and for sharing our Marist charism. Its objectives are to explain the plan for animation and government of the General Council, to promote the calls of the General Chapter, to share the reflections and the activities of the General Council, to promote the unity of the Institute by respecting and valuing the diversity of cultures and of missions and to nurture the family spirit between brothers and laypeople, all drawn by common values.

- The team is the guarantee of the realisation of the project. This work team can be seen at three levels: a) Brother Superior General and his Council: the service of Communications shares with the wider community the reports of their work of animation and of government; b) the General Administration: as the broadcasting of news needs the collaboration of the General Secretariat, specially for translations (internal and external); c) the network of correspondents in the Institute: the list of these correspondents has been published in Number 152 of FMS Update. They provide the diversity and the colour of the Marist presence in the world.

- Change is the way to respond to new challenges in society, in the Institute and in the Church and the way to benefit from technological innovations. Here are some of these changes: the transformation of the service of Publications into that of Communications, the publishing of magazines according to the modern norms of typography, the coverage of the canonisation of Champagnat and of the 20th General Chapter, the reorientation of the quarterly FMS Marist Echo so as to include laypeople in its audience, the use of digital photography, the production of audio-visual material such as video cassettes and compact discs, the creation of the Marist Bulletin sent by e-mail to those who requested this, the conception and the launching of the new website (www.champagnat.org) . This last aspect presents the greatest challenge for communications; we are fortunate to have Mr Luiz da Rosa, our Webmaster, to help meet this challenge. Other changes are yet to occur, such as the section for Youth on our website. This section is due to be opened on the 8th September.

A basic conviction
The richness and the diversity of the Marist presence are more highly esteemed than can be shown by our means of communication. My conviction is that it is worth the trouble to share these without being superficial or just doing this for appearances sake. The fear of risking being superficial must not stop us from sharing our experiences, our concerns and our reflections, because this sharing nurtures our family spirit which is shared by both the brothers and laypeople. Thats why I dare to challenge you once more to participate sincerely and simply. To remain silent because of fear or laziness is never virtuous. If we put our loaves and fish together on the table, then the multiplication is assured.

Marcellin, a heart that knows no bounds
The logo of the canonisation is like an advertisement for our Marist life. Marcellin used to say: All the dioceses of the world, come into our plans. Today, in considering our technical progress, Marcellin would see that we have immense possibilities and that the message of the Gospel can thus reach the ends of the world thanks to these means. Without doubt he would take advantage of these means, but at the same time he would remain realistic about their use. To be able to communicate in one tenth of a second is important, but the contents of the message are far more important, especially when it is telling us how much God loves us.

I am moving aside from the helm to allow Brother Onorino take charge, but I am remaining on board, as all of you also. We can work together in this project in many ways. I hope to be able to continue to do my bit.

I would like to take this opportunity to remind you that the e-mail address publica@fms.it now belongs to Brother Onorino and that my new address is lluisserra@interfree.it

I am finishing a stage of my life that has lasted for six years. There have been many accomplishments, enthusiastic plans and also some frustrations. But, more so, it has been a time of grace. The tasks ahead for me will be different but not the motives that are nourished in my heart.

With affection,
Brother Lluís Serra

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