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Marist Bulletin - Number 37

 

Brother Yvon Bédard - Interview with Lluis Serra, Director of Publications
05.12.2002

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MONEY SHOULD SERVE THE MISSION

Brother Yvon Bedard, 56 years old, was born in St.-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Canada. He is a professional accountant (CMA: Accredited Accountant in Management.) He was provincial bursar for the two Marist provinces of Quebec, and President of the Finance Commission of the Religious Conference of Canada – Quebec section. At the end of December he will have completed nine years as General Bursar of the Institute./i>

Should I be paying for this interview?
The services of the General Bursar are free. However, any donation will be gratefully accepted and added to the Solidarity account. Ha. Ha.

You have been Econome General of the Institute for 9 years. What has been your work?
The official description of my job can be found in the Constitutions. I should add that outside the ordinary management of the general Administration, helping the Provinces which do not have administrative facilities, organising groups, training sessions and coordinating the various transfers and payments within the Marist world tend to be at the heart of my daily work.

You will finish your term as Econome General at the end of December 2002. Draw up a balance sheet for us.
It is always a bit pretentious to present a balance sheet of our activities, but since I have to, here it is: The establishment of solidarity funds as directed by the General Chapter of 1993, the diverse training sessions, meeting with bursars in sectors and in language groups, establishing community investment funds (Fonds d’Investissements Maristes), supervising the many funds of the Provinces and the establishment of the Solidarity Fund. Finally the material management of the General House and most especially the conversion of the former International College in the Casa per Ferie.

How do you reconcile money and poverty?
Having money does not necessarily mean that one is rich and to be poor does not mean one has no money. It is all a matter of the management of money, which is put at our disposal. Money must serve the Mission and not be used to make us rich. Sensible management is also a factor for our poorer provinces, who will learn by use and practice, to improve resources which are badly utilised and often wasted.

What interpretation do you give to the circular of Brother Benito on the gospel use of goods? And the consequences of their application?
Brother Benito has had the boldness to put in writing the essential elements of the subject. This reflection has to start from the basis of myself as an individual, my community and my province. If we set aside our philosophical and theoretical discussions on the subject then what are the practical steps of myself personally in this area? What are the practical steps of the community in this matter? And what are the steps of my province? The natural reflex is to agree in theory, but for the practical actions we must interact for and with the others. The call to solidarity of the XX Chapter is an excellent opportunity to engage in this dynamic.

How do we ensure that our financial investments are not used for unfair or immoral purposes?
I do not believe that there are any placements, which are 100% ethical. It is equally impossible to know what our bankers do with our money, to whom it is lent, who finances them. With the international economic commission we have established a list of those who are not suitable for our congregation: companies who favour arms, alcoholic drink, those who do not respect the environment, life and the rights of man etc. Our administrators ought to take this into account; otherwise they could lose their administrative mandate. Our portfolios are not driven by ethics but they are as much as possible.

Talk to us about the various funds established by the General Administration for the causes of solidarity.
At the General Chapter I presented the detailed report on the management of the monies received into the account from the solidarity appeal. Several funds have been created on behalf of provinces, which are in need. Even if we are far from our objective of autonomy, we are going in the right direction. With the appeal to solidarity of the 2001 Chapter, the funds collected will facilitate the finalisation of funds to various provinces, helping them towards financial autonomy. The funds which it is most important to put in train are the FORMATION FUNDS. These funds should generate $800,000 American dollars for our novitiates, which need money, and two formation centres: The Marist International Centre and the Asian Pacific Centre. Could this be a reality for 2005?

You come from Canada, a First World country (G-8). In the course of your travels in the Marist World, you have observed great differences among countries and our Marist communities. What are your thoughts on the situation?
The Marist world is a mirror image of the real world. A great disparity in financial resources. Taken together our diverse communities favour simplicity. Apart from some exceptions, our communities are well provided for and lack for nothing. One constant: we are situated in the higher part of the middle class. We do not need to think in terms of uniformity. We must adjust our life-style to the culture and environment in which we are established.

Globalisation is a debate of two contradictory visions symbolised by the meeting in Davos and in Porto Alegre. What are your views on the subject?
Globalisation and mundialisation are two words, which are in fashion. They seem to invoke protests, justified or not. These realities ought to contribute more to justice and a more equal division of wealth. Countries cannot isolate themselves from each other. In Marist houses the fashionable word is restructuration. This should favour more unity, a greater openness to others and a greater sharing of our human and economic wealth.

How do you envisage your future, following your term of office as Econome General?
I hope to continue to use my accounting and economics skills in training the administrators of my Province and the Institute, that is my priority. I am equally open to the needs of the Church and other religious congregations. To this end, a financial institution in Quebec has already approached me to retain my services as consultant for the Dioceses and religious communities.

A Final Point
We have come to the end of a stage. A time, which has unfolded at great speed. A special thanks to Brothers Benito and Sean who have supported me and encouraged me over the 9 years. My gratitude to the brothers who have served on the Commission for Internal Economy and to my fellow brothers who have carried out certain essential services in the balance sheet of activities, which I mentioned earlier.
All my affection and friendship to the numerous provincial and district bursars for their openness of spirit and their cooperation. We have all grown. May Champagnat bless us all.

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