2008-02-18 GENERAL HOUSE

Taking the pulse of the life of the Institute

Earlier we shared a shortened version of the news from this meeting. We can now expand on the details concerning the information offered by the General Council to the members of the General Administration following the winter sessions.

Marist Foundation for International Solidarity

Sara Paciroli, a lay person who works in BIS, explained the steps that the General Council is taking to prepare the statutes, to obtain legal recognition from the Government of Italy for ?FMS International as a non profit making organization of social utility (in Italian it is simplified with the acronym onlus), and to implement the bodies that will make it efficient. This new Marist institution, at the service of the whole Institute, created by the General Council and complementary to BIS, seeks to develop programmes for the collection of funds for solidarity in the Institute and to sponsor the defence of the rights of children in our Marist educational works.

Mission ad gentes

The Brothers who are taking part in the Programme mission ad gentes and whose mother tongue is not English have the opportunity to begin learning that language in Chicago. In Davao they are following a course of a month?s duration on personal discernment about the missionary call and of discernment of the countries to which they might be assigned. After these experiences the General Council decides each Brothers destination.

In Davao the fourth group has begun the process with 12 Brothers. So far the number of Brothers sent on mission is 48: Bangladesh (7), Cambodia (3), Northern India (4), Algeria (4), Canada (5), Cuba (6), Haiti (3), and West África (2). There are two countries where the Brothers are, whose names cannot be divulged for reasons of discretion and security. In total there are 11 Brothers, six and five in each country. Of the 48 Brothers that at the moment are taking part in the programme 20 work outside Asia: Algeria (4), Canada (5), Cuba (6), Tailandia (3), Haiti (3) West Africa (2). With the Project ad gentes the Brothers are established in six new countries: Bangladesh, Cambodia, India, Thailand and two more whom we cannot name.

Restructuring of Asia

The Eastern Asia province has been constituted, being made up of the following countries: Malaysia, Singapore, Korea, Philippines, plus two more countries that we do not mention. The Province of Southern Asia consists of Sri Lanka, Pakistan and India. With the restructuring of these Provinces there has also been created the Mission ad gentes Sector whose Superior is Brother Mike de Waas and the Administrator Brother Jude Pieterse

Preparatory Commission for the 21st General Chapter

Brother Maurice Berquet explained the working plan of the preparatory Commission of the 21st General Chapter. This commission looked at all that will be needed for the work of the Chapter. It organizes, among other things, the comparison of the documents that reach the General Council and the answers from the consultation with the Brothers, the material preparation and the revision of the Regulations for the Chapter. After having taken a poll in the whole institute, it must prepare a working document , to be used as a guide for the capitulants.

The preparatory Commission is made up of Brothers Carlos Vélez (Puerto Rico), Graham Neist (Australia), Albert Nzabonaliba (Rwanda), Lindley Sionosa (Philippines), João Carlos do Prado (Brazil), Josep María Soteras (Catalonia), Luis Sobrado Vicar General, Maurice Berquet, General Counsellor and Sean Sammon, Superior General
The working programme has looked at the following dates for the meetings: February 2008, 11-16 July 21-26 2008 and December of 2008.

International assembly of Marist mission in Mendes, Brazil

Brother Emili opened his presentation on Mendes by recalling the following appraisal of Brother Seán Sammon: The meeting in Mendes on Marist mission and the beatification of our Brothers martyrs have been two great events in the recent history of the Institute.

Then he pointed out that it is the first time that a meeting of Brothers and lay people has taken place to share the mission that we have in common. In the previous General Chapters, the lay people were present, but only as guests. This meeting opens future horizons as much for the Brothers as for the lay people. It was preceded by many local, provincial and regional meetings. Practically all the Provinces were involved.

Next he explained the methodology used to energize the assembly, helping to show what each one had in his heart to share.

With everyone contributing to the final document which invites us to a revolution of the heart, opening to the breath of the Spirit, to rediscover the Marist presence in evangelisation, the new challenges in Marist education, the defence and promotion of the rights of children and the young people and a shared Marist mission the Marist dream which each one of us carries in our heart.

Brother Pau Fornells, in his personal testimony of what the International Assembly of Mendes had been for him affirmed that there are ?new impulses in the Institute, a new spirit, a new freshness and the discovery of the vocation of the lay Marist and re-evaluation of its presence among us. Mendes was lived as a prophetic moment, with passion and with the will to transmit the fire that was lit there, to every place in the Marist world.
Three new dimensions were highlighted: the defence of the rights of children, the experience of internationality concerning the lay people and the co responsibility of Brothers and lay people. Not everyone experienced an identical process, but in their diversity, they have discovered a deep sense of identity.

Remodelling of the Hermitage

Brother Onorino has taken part in numerous meetings as a member of the Commission that has studied the project of remodelling the Hermitage. He explained, through a power-point presentation, the work of restructuring by the historical architectural group and the new constructions that are planned. He also spoke of the international community responsible for integrated welcome by Brothers and lay people. This community has as its mission to help the pilgrims who come to the Hermitage experience a true sense of Marist life, a moment that raise the Marist heart.

The Year of Marist spirituality?

Brother Antonio Ramalho highlighted some of the achievements that have marked the Year of Marist spirituality. It opened with a chain of prayers that united the Marist world. All the provinces received the document Water from the Rock, the Web page was given a special space, meetings were organized to present the document and retreats took place to deepen its contents; formation itineraries have been planned, often encouraged by the Brothers. Besides the four official languages, the book ?Water from the Rock has been translated and published in Italian, Tamil, Dutch, and German.
The Year of Marist spirituality will be officially closed on October 12 2008. The provinces that began it three months later will conclude it at the end of the civil year 2008.


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