2022-03-26 GENERAL HOUSE

General Conference Week 3 – By Br. Peter Carroll

Read more about the General Conference

Like the first two weeks there was rich variety in the topics and dynamics of the third and final week of the 2022 General Conference.

We started by exploring the crucial issue of child abuse and protection. Every region has had, and is still having challenges in this area. The abuse of children has caused incredible pain in the lives of too many people, and we face difficulties in responding compassionately and justly to them. The path is never clear and needs careful and sensitive consideration. The hours we spent on this topic were designed to help us in this. Australian MSC priest, Father Tim Brennan, led us in reflecting on our responses and giving us some advice based on his own extensive work with victim-survivors. The time in discussion was most helpful.

Our chief task over the following two days was to shape our deliberations into some conclusions. Luis Carlos and Ernesto asked us to discern what we, as an Institute, are being called to in the next three years. Through personal reflection, group discussion and plenary dialogue we formulated our ‘Intuitions’. These are in keeping with the calls of the 22nd Chapter, and if anything, are focussed on taking those calls further, or “going beyond”.

In summary the Conference concluded that we should:

  • Continue to take concrete steps to build the global Marist family
  • Promote re-configuration of Administrative Units for the vitality, viability and sustainability of the Institute
  • Challenge ourselves more deeply with regard to Marist identity and vocations, both Brothers’ and Lay Women and Men  
  • Work in solidarity to share our resources in support of our mission
  • Enhance genuine co-responsibility between Brothers and Lay people.
  • Identify emerging needs in mission, especially with young people at the margins and young adults
  • Articulate further our understanding of Marist Spirituality and deepen its expression in our lives.

In the months ahead these ideas will be further developed by the General Council, and in due course be made available to the Marists of Champagnat.

Focus on Regional Level

The last stage of the Conference was to focus our attention on the Regional Level. In this last week time was given so that the representatives of each of the 6 Regions could meet. This was an opportunity to continue normal dialogue and planning, but also to start applying some of the intuitions to Regional collaboration and initiatives. Some regions will continue meeting after the Conference.

The final week also featured some special events.

  • A visit and Mass celebrated by Father John Larson SM, Superior General of the Marist Fathers
  • The Birthdays of Brothers Abel (Provincial of Ibérica) and Luis Carlos (Vicar General)
  • An overview of the Pope’s Global Compact on Education and the formal signing of it by all Members of the Conference
  • Celebration of the Feast of the Annunciation with the Conference’s closing Eucharist and celebratory lunch.

On a sombre note, on Thursday 24th the funeral of Brothers Marino Primiceri was held at the General House. Br Marino, a member of the Europe Central West Province, was visiting Rome when he died suddenly of heart failure. Italian born, it was decided that he would be buried with his family in his home village. Brother Robert Thunus, Provincial, gave a moving eulogy and travelled to the south of Italy to attend his burial.

Meeting with Pope Francis

By contrast, in the morning of the 24th the members of the Conference travelled to the Vatican for a private audience with Pope Francis. It was an extraordinary and memorable occasion for us all. The Pope was welcoming and down-to earth. He spoke to us together, then met each Brother personally and gave each a rosary. His address took up the Conference theme “Looking Beyond” and he offered warm encouragement in our life and mission. He asked us to make sure we help young people themselves to look beyond – the materialism, self-interest, isolation and limits of the age. He also asked us to ‘pray for him – as his work can be difficult’.

Our General Conference has ended. All are grateful for the experience, and pray that it will help us continue to serve our Marist Family with energy and shared vision. We are most grateful to Br Patrick McNamara, the staff and community of the General House for the warmth of their hospitality, and to Brothers Ernesto, Luis-Carlos and the General Council and Administration for their creativity, hard work and careful planning that produced an engaging and beneficial 2022 General Conference.

St Marcellin Champagnat – Pray for Us
Mary Our Good Mother – Pray For us
May we continue to walk with Jesus.

Br. Peter Carroll – Provincial of Australia


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