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Marist Bulletin - Number 197


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13.05.2005 - Guatemala
Visit from the General Council to Arco Norte

After three and a half years visiting the different regions of the Institute, the General Council has finished the first cycle of visits (Africa, October 2002; Asia, February 2003; Brazil and Cono Sur, May 2003; Europe, November 2003; Oceania, May 2004; North America, November 2004) with the Provinces that compose the Arco Norte: América Central, México Central, México Occidental and Norandina.
As we have already noted, the planning meetings of the teams of visitors took place from the 15th February until the 17th February at Los Teques (Venezuela). The visits began immediately afterwards, and lasted until the 8th May. Brothers Luis Sobrado and Peter Rodney visited the Province of América Central; Brothers Théoneste Kalisa and Emili Turú, the Provinces of Mexico; Brothers Maurice Berquet and Pedro Herreros, the Province of Norandina. As they had done in other regions, Brothers Antonio Ramalho and Ernesto Sánchez visited the Houses of Formation in the whole region.
The teams of visitors used the days from the 9th until the 11th May to prepare the corresponding reports for each of the Provinces, as well as to plan the meetings of the extended General Council (the General Council plus the Provincial Councils of the region).
Taking advantage of the presence of the General Council in the City of Guatemala, the metropolitan archbishop, Cardinal Rodolfo Quezada Toruño, a former Marist student, visited the Brothers of the Council on the 9th May and shared some time with them.

II - 14.05.2005
The meeting of the extended General Council in the region of Arco Norte started on Thursday 12th May, with a time of prayer centred on the openness and availability of Mary to the Word of God in the Annunciation. After the initial words of welcome by the Superior General, each one of the thirty-six brothers participating in this meeting introduced themselves briefly to the oth-ers and shared with them some of their hopes for this meeting.
After a brief explanation by Brother Luis G Sobrado on the origin of the meetings and their main objectives, Brother Seán addressed the group, offering them some reflections. He thanked all for their participation, as well as the welcome and collaboration that all received during the recently finished visits, and he underlined two main aspects: identity and leader-ship.
To develop an identity - Brother Seán said - we all need to arrive at a consensus on the im-portant points of our life and mission. I am not speaking of eclectic agreement, but of consen-sus… Our 20th General Chapter was clear: the foundation of all that we say and do in our life should be the passion for Jesus Christ and the Gospel. And that challenge goes beyond the life of each one of us; it also affects our communities and apostolates.
Making reference to a recent meeting of Brother Seán with some brothers, he added: Those brothers recognised that we are living in challenging times, and they expressed a great desire to have leaders who keep alive the vision of what is truly a Marist Brother. We need leaders who are brothers who speak the truth and who, with their actions, words and simplicity of life, challenge us all to do that should be done in this time of renewal in the Church and in our way of life. As is the case with many young people today, these brothers want to have leaders who speak once again of sacrifice and who challenge us with a vision for which it is worthwhile to give your life.
Finally, Brother Seán finished his words by referring to the restructuring processes and region-alisation in this region of Arco Norte.
The rest of the day was devoted to the study of the reports prepared by the teams of visitors: personal time and then meetings for the Provincial Councils.

III - 16.05.2005
As the 12th May was devoted mainly to the Provincial Councils study of their reports prepared by the teams of visitors, the 13th and 14th May were devoted to the broader outlook across the whole region.
On Friday the 13th, we worked in interprovincial groups and then in the whole assembly, trying to identify the most important common challenges in Arco Norte. These challenges can be summarised under the following headings: Mission, Spirituality and Consecration, Laity, Com-munity Life, Formation and Vocation Ministry, Animation and Government.
In the words of Brother Seán, the second stage of these days of group work has invited us to look out the windows of the Provinces that constitute Arco Norte. In doing so, we have seen, without a doubt, a lot that was already known to us. But we have also found aspects of Marist life that were different from those in our own Provinces… you have incredible resources and talents in this region. Signs of hope for the future of our Institute and of our mission also exist. But, at the same time, we are living in times that are not very different from those that Saint Marcellin lived. The Church of his time experienced a crisis of change. Many of his contempo-raries looked to the past to find answers to their situation. The future didnt belong any more to them than to those who, as our Founder did, had a deep faith, audacity, the desire to run risks, a great love for young people, and who fixed their attention on the building of the fu-ture.
Saturday 14th May was devoted to summing up the challenges the brothers wished to confront together as a whole region. This was done in Provincial Council groups, interprovincial groups and the whole assembly. Brother Seán posed this question for the brothers to discuss: Can we find the necessary ways to join the wisdom and experience that exist in this region, so we can give valid responses to the challenges that are presented? . To be able to do so - he added - we will need to be willing to leave aside some of our fixed ideas so we can learn from others. We also need to share our own experiences to be able to enrich the combined work.
Saturday concluded with a meeting with all the brothers who live in the City of Guatemala. This took place in the Liceo Guatemala, a Marist secondary school.

IV - 17.05.2005
Pentecost Sunday. The day began with the celebration of the Eucharist. The assembly sang Come O Holy Spirit! I am open to your presence and you will change my heart. The coincidence could not have been more opportune: the words, proposals, commitments, etc. expressed during these days could fly away with the wind, unless they had the presence and the strength of the Holy Spirit.
Brother Seán opened the work session sharing his reflection and vision of the region; he emphasised the enormous potential that exists in the region, as much in human resources as in materials, and he encouraged all to be audacious in their commitment and creative in their mission.
After a time of work in Provincial Council groups and in the general assembly, all present affirmed their desire for interprovincial collaboration in the different areas where they had previously been working and that they embrace the larger topics that affect Marist life and mission. It was also approved that, starting from the General Conference that will take place in Sri Lanka in September 2005, the Provincials will define more concrete ways to ensure that this collaboration continues.
Sunday lunch marked the end of the extended General Council meeting in the region of Arco Norte, a very vital region at the heart of the Institute, consisting of four Provinces that extend over nine countries (Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Puerto Rico, Venezuela, Colombia and Ecuador), besides the present communities in Honduras (dependent on the Province of Compostela), Haiti (dependent on the Province of Canada) and Cuba (General Council).
In this region, there are 7,458 people, brothers and laity, committed to the Marist mission serving about 92,000 children and young people. Hopefully this visit of the General Council represents a new impulse to continue in the service of the Church and of the society of these countries, faithful to Champagnats charism.

21.05.2005 - Brazil
A meeting of young brothers from Brasil Centro-Sul

The annual meeting of the young brothers of the Province of Brasil Centro-Sul took place from the 21st to the 24th April. It had particular significance this year, being the Marist Vocation Year. Forty-two brothers participated: ranging from those in their second year of temporary profession to those in their second year of perpetual profession. Brother Provincial, Brother Vice-Provincial, responsible for initial formation, and a brother who co-ordinated the activities joined them for this meeting.
The co-ordinating team had programmed times for brotherly sharing for their confrères: activities aimed at extending each participant personally, life sharing, celebrations, reflections and a deepening of personal commitment.
The meeting took place in three places in Paraná: the gathering, welcome, preparation and orientation took place at Curitiba. On the second day, the games and extension activities occurred at Tijucas do Sul. During the two final days at Guaratuba, the brothers concentrated on the contents of Brother Seán Sammons letter, Rekindling the fire, written on the occasion of the launching of the Marist Vocation Year. The study of the letter was accompanied by life sharing and the search for practical ways of living and incarnating the suggestions given by the Superior General, and a reflection on each participants challenges in life that had been shared the evening before. The small group work was followed by a plenary session.
A team of five brothers co-ordinated the meeting so as to have an equal share of sporting activities, times for prayer and reflection, and moments for fraternisation and informal gatherings. The aspect that was particularly remarkable was the creativity shown by each participant during the cultural and artistic activities, the games and the social times; this greatly added to the success of the event. All the participants recognised the value of such an experience and the importance of encouraging each other in brotherhood through meetings of young brothers.

23.05.2005 - Australia
Champagnat Pilgrimage 2005

On the 2nd April 2005 twenty-five pilgrims boarded their first of many flights to commence the 2005 Champagnat Pilgrimage, the third biennial pilgrimage organised for school leaders, staff and friends of the Province of Melbourne. Included in the group were four Marist Brothers and the four newly appointed principals of Marist Schools in the Province.
After a brief stop at Singapore and London, the pilgrims landed in Paris and took the TGV to Lyons and bus to the Hermitage. There, Brothers Gabriel Michel and Alain Delorme shared with the group their comprehensive and passionate love of Marcellin Champagnat. Five days later, the pilgrims journeyed to Paris to walk in Marcellins footsteps as he strove to gain authorisation for his fledgling organisation and, at the same time, imbibed the rich Marial spirituality of the environs.
Monday 11th April saw the pilgrims travelling to Rome at that special time in history as the cardinals gathered to elect a new Pope. Brothers Sean Sammon and Jude Pieterse spoke at length with the group about future directions for the Congregation and recent Marist experiences in Africa.
Each Champagnat Pilgrimage takes in the richness of a developing country, experiences that immerse the pilgrims, ever so briefly, in the lives of the poor. This time the group travelled to Belo Horizonte and Rio de Janeiro in Brazil and Santiago in Chile. There, Marist hospitality and warmth abounded once again as pilgrims witnessed the juxtaposition of large favellas alongside wealthy neighbourhoods and saw vibrant Marist boarding and day schools run specifically for the very poor.
As the group of tired pilgrims flew into Melbourne on the 23rd April, it was clear the experience had greatly enriched all their lives, exposed them to exceptional Marist hospitality and given them a deeper affection for all things Marist.

24.05.2005 - Paraguay
A mobilisation for the defence of the rights of children and adolescents

Click here to participate in this initiative
The defence of the rights of the child and the adolescent in Paraguay is in need of our attention and our support. This call concerns Marisa N. N., a young girl of thirteen years of age who was working as a domestic helper in the house of a sub-officer of the Paraguayan army who used to continually abuse and rape her. The minor found the courage in June 2002 to make public the humiliations to which her employer was submitting her: Gilberto Cantero, a well-known military person in the region, used every possible means to conceal and be cleared of these accusations. After several problems in the management of the case, as for example the loss of reports and the mysterious change of name of the accused in the case, the process has been drawn out and delayed but the trial must start by the 1st June if it is to proceed at all. The Attorney General and various organisations in the country are working to prevent any further delay and to start the trial against the sub-officer. This would be the first time that the Paraguayan justice system had dared to prosecute a member of the military.
One of the first people to know about this case was Teresa Mayoral, a volunteer co-worker from the NGO - SED, a Catalonian from Lleida. Teresa has lived in Paraguay for more than two years and has worked in the programme of support for the defence of the rights of children and adolescents that SED has developed in the Chaco desert. Teresa protected Marisa and has followed the stages of the case very closely, which has transformed her into a very important witness in the coming trial. Her security and that of all the people who are prepared to be witnesses is primordial for the success of the trial and to avoid the integrity of a minor in Paraguay being harmed again.
The NGO - SED (Solidarity, Education, Development), linked to the Marist Brothers in Spain, has supported the project mentioned above since January 2002 with the aim of making the new Paraguayan law of December 2001 well known, a law that focuses on the defence of the rights of children and adolescents. This project is being realised in the heart of the Chaco desert, an area that occupies one half of the territory of Paraguay, even though only about 100,000 citizens live there. They mainly belong to autochthonic ethnic groups with their own languages, cultures and costumes. This task is accomplished by supporting the Apostolic Vicariate of Pilcomayo as a local partner organisation and with the consignment of the volunteer co-worker Teresa Mayoral through the Marist Brothers District. The project is attempting to make the existence of this law known by the people of Chaco: the first action consists simply of letting them know that Human Rights apply also to the protection of children and of women. A second action, more difficult to realise, has been working to change the mentality that governs the relationships between men and women in this country. The fruit of this action has been to bring the case of Marisa N. N. out into the open, for which we are now asking support and international signs of solidarity, in order to put pressure on the Paraguayan authorities so that it is possible to clarify this case and obtain justice.
Marisa and Teresa need us for the rights of children to be recognised and so that precedents in law may be set in this country. For this reason, SED, with several national and international associations for the defence of children, for the fight against the exploitation of children and against the recruitment of child soldiers, have started a campaign from Spain to support this cause. These petitions are VERY IMPORTANT, if the authorities know that they are seen and observed abroad, this can lead them to assure the good progress of the processes in course, the actual commencement of the trial before the deadline date of the 1st June 2005 as well as the SECURITY of Marisa and the various people and institutions supporting this case, one of whom is Teresa Mayoral Seró, our volunteer co-worker.

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