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First Conference on Formation for American Boards of Directors

27/04/2011: Brazil

Our challenge is to be Champagnats in our school communities and through our witness and outlook to make Jesus Christ known and loved. Accomplishing this requires a Board of Directors that advocates these goals and shows what needs to be done. Simply writing down ideas down and presenting them in a beautifully bound edition is not enough; what counts is our personifying the message. No longer can we mosey along at a snail’s pace in addressing this topic. We need to be daring, tearing down once and for all the structure we’ve relied on in the past and starting to build a brand new one for a world that’s changed, whose Christians and citizens come from diverse backgrounds.

This First Conference on Formation for American Boards of Directors brought together participants from each Province and District on the Continent, some from Boards serving Marist schools. A total of around 80 brothers and lay people, including members of support teams, met March 27 - 30 at Recanto Champagnat, a Marist residence in Florianopolis, Santa Catarina State, in southern Brazil.

This pioneering Conference was organized and directed by the Subcommittee for the Formation of Boards of Directors, part of the Continental Team for our American Mission. The members of this Subcommittee are Irma Zamarripa (México Occidental), Brother José Wagner (Brasil Centro Norte), Brother Luis Carlos Gutiérrez (América Central) and Ernesto Reyes (Subcommittee Chairman, from Chile).

The main purpose of the Conference was “to establish a set of procedures and agreed-upon approaches for Marist America” pertaining to the formation of Boards of Directors. In 2007-08 a questionnaire was sent out concerning this subject and its relevance to the needs for animating the Marist mission on this Continent. That survey led to important conclusions that Brothers Emili Turú y Juan Miguel Anaya published in a Report and Letter to Provincials in early 2010.

The Conference dedicated a great deal of time to approving and making known the contents of that survey. Sharing experiences and noting successful practices in their own Provinces and Districts, participants gained a good number of insights. This in turn helped them move forward and shape a comprehensive model for an overall formation program for future Boards of Directors.

Guest speakers at the Conference included Brother Josep María Soteras, General Councilor, who gave a talk on The Mission of Marist Boards of Directors Today. He focused on what makes our Marist mission so significant in today’s world, its international nature and systematic way of working together. In this regard he stressed the key role played by those who lead Boards of Directors in our schools. Their work is going to become increasingly influential and have a multiplier effect given the current challenges that the Institute is facing in its efforts to provide a quality education based on the spirit and charism of Champagnat. To succeed we need to train new members of Boards of Directors to meet the new world emerging all around us. The Conference examined this entire challenge in the light of the four areas constituting the future of our mission: evangelization, education, solidarity and defense of the rights of children and young people.

With Brother Jesús Triguero and Juan Guerreroas moderators, participants also had an opportunity to discuss Management models and the practicality of using them in a formation program for Marist Boards of Directors.Likewise, Ana Maria Eyng led a discussion on Formation for Boards of Directors in educational institutionsand Brother João Carlos do Prado gave a talk on Networking in a formation program for Boards of Directors in America. With their experience and expertise all the speakers did a fine job of helping the Conference reach its objectives.

Brothers James Edward Jolley, Director of the Marist Foundation for International Solidarity (FMSI) in Geneva and Manuel Mendoza Prario gave a presentation about the Foundation’s Office and spoke of ways in which Marist schools can become involved.

At the outset of the Conference its participants enjoyed an excursion to three islands.There they were able to acquire a basic understanding of the history of southern Brazil, the tropical climate, warm waters and appetizing meals typical of the region. And they had plenty of time for sharing and celebrating. To share the culture that comprises our Continent each representative brought along something from his or her own country.

From everything we’ve learned at this Conference, the wealth of the dialog and how we delved into topics at the café or on our lunch break, there’s no doubt we’ll be returning home with a new vision. What we’ve learned will enable us to not only tell people that the Conference was interesting and practical but that it will become an instrument that will transform our way of looking at the world around us. However, this is not just a call to work with a greater supply of specialized tools. For us to be willing to take on the new challenges we think it’s important for each Board of Directors and every member of animation teams to be able to enter more deeply into the mystery of their Christian lives and adhere more closely to our charism.

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Subcommittee for the Formation of Boards of Directors

April 14, 2011

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