2009-09-26 GENERAL HOUSE

XXI General Chapter

Father J. Pedro Alarcón Méndez SM has been chaplain to the chapter in its first weeks of work. The assembly approved his participation as expert, working with the secretaries of the Chapter. In his daily homilies he has brought the rhythm of the chapter hall into harmony with the spiritual life. We are grateful that he is willing to offer some observations on the Chapter to our readers.

How do you see the human group which makes up this Chapter?

I am very appreciative of the privilege to be among you celebrating brotherhood and the eucharist. The international character of the XXI General Chapter is one of the great riches of the Marist Brothers. The Chapter?s internationality reflects in an important way the great steps taken in favour of the mission ad gentes, in places where Brothers leave their provinces to provide new directions for evangelization. Like a true mosaic, or like a stained glass window with an infinity of angles and light reflected in an infinity of colours, the more than 80 capitulants, representing 79 countries, organized into different regions, coming from different cultures and geographic situations, with diverse languages and customs, are really united around a common search: to live the Marist life with hearts renewed in a world renewed. The laity, essential members of the Institute, are also taking part in this XXI General Chapter. They and the Brothers are looking for complementary ways to mutually enrich themselves in the task of living out their respective Marist identities.

From the beginning, the chapter has adopted a new methodology. Has it been the right option?

It seems to me providential that the XXI Chapter has decided to abandon the parliamentary method in favor of the method used up to the present, of discernment leading to consensus. This methodology reveals itself in a constant way in this Chapter, capable of creating communion, thanks to the spirit of listening which prevails in all the dynamics. It offers many lessons which could be adopted in many contexts, such as recognizing minorities, being attentive to diverging points of view, recognizing that consensus can really arrive at discovering ways of coming to an empathy which is more than mere sympathy. Another equally important lesson is that of seeking the will of God collectively, that it is not the sum of the collective wisdom of those present, but that it depends in direct ratio on the prayer life of those taking part. I am very happy, because the atmosphere of cordiality and prayer are important signs that characterize the way in which the different parts of the process are being lived. I believe that with this methodology a Marist atmosphere is truly emerging. It is as if through this methodology, the style of being Marist will possess many more possibilities of manifesting itself as a way of being, which emerges from the weighty considerations that come from life and meditation on the Word of God.

At this point in the work of the Chapter, there are already outlines of some lines of reflection which indicate the direction of the Chapter proposal to the Marist Institute. Where is the Chapter heading?

There are many elements which are emerging now as the Chapter proceeds. The profound discernment undertaken to discover the so-called ?Fundamental Call of the Chapter, as the expression of God?s will for the Institute today?, has led to the recognition of major themes, which arose in the course of the process. Once the ?Fundamental Call? is formulated, it will be possible to examine the different themes. To my way of understanding, it has been fundamental that the regions reflected in their own places on very concrete topics; these topics appear in the letters of the regions, the object of fuller and detailed reflection in the first days. There are themes which emerge from these letters, such as the identity of the Brother in relation to the lay identity, the challenge to be with the poorest of children and youth, the mission ad gentes with all its demands and possibilities, spirituality as thirst for God, and Marist community life. I see with joy the enthusiasm for carrying out projects like the International Meeting of Marist Youth, in association with WYD 2011, and the studies at university level, University graduate in ?Vision and principles of Marist education?. I think that the XXI General Chapter will be decisive for the future of the Institute.

To get to know the personality of Fr. Pedro better, see his biographical note.


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