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What is a General Conference?

05/03/2013: General House
General Conference 2013

The Marist Constitutions (137.11) describe it as follows:
The General Conference is a consultative assembly, made up of the Brother Superior General, the Brother Vicar General, the Councilors General, the Brothers Provincial and, if the Statutes of the Districts provide for it, the Superiors of Districts. The aim of the General Conference is,

  1. Veranóplisto strengthen the unity of the Institute, and to enable the Superiors to have direct contact with the Brother Superior General, the members of his Council, and with one another,
  2. to study questions of general concern and to propose ways of answering them.

The Brother Superior General convokes the General Conference in the period between two General Chapters. If he judges it opportune, he can invite other persons to attend.

Determining the organization, content, agenda and duration of the General Conference, Hermitageis a prerogative of the Superior General and his Council, in dialogue with the Provincials. Being a consultative assembly, its dynamics and functioning differ from those of a General Chapter, which has full autonomy and is the supreme authority of the Institute. By contrast, the General Conference can modify neither the Constitutions nor the Chapter Statutes.

From its origins, the aim of the General Conference was to facilitate communication and to evaluate and monitor the implementation of the Constitutions and Chapter decisions. It is also an opportunity to envision the future together and share dreams regarding the situation of the Institute, the Church and the world.
 Some young brothers were invited for the first time to the General Conference in 1989. Since 1997, on the initiative of the Superior General, groups of lay Marists have participated as guests.
 
Historical Background
The tradition of gathering a significant group of brothers to deal with important matters regarding the Institute started with Marcellin, who was aware of how this practice brought unity among the brothers.

Some early signs of what would later be called General Conference were Hermitagepresent during the General Chapter meeting of Grugliasco in 1958. An initial experience of this type took place in Rome in May 1965, bringing together the members of the General Administration and all the Provincials. However, the General Conference as we now know it now began to take shape and appear as functional with the renewal atmosphere and new style of government brought about by the Second Vatican Council. The Constitutions of 1986 finally included a General Conference meeting in the period between General Chapters.

Summary of the General Conferences

Date

Place

Convener

Particip.

Major topics

1971
April-May
Rome
(Italy)
Br.Basilio
Rueda
57 Main issues after the Vatican Council; the period following the Chapter.
The Meditation of the Superior General Shared With His Provincials.
1974
April-May
Rome
(Italy)
Br.Basilio
Rueda
57 Preparation of the XVII General Chapter.
The introduction of the laity in the temporal affairs. Reflection on the Hermitage and the Marist places.
1979
October
Rome
(Italy)
Br.Basilio
Rueda
61 Consecrated life. Community life project. Poverty and justice. The Marist Family. The Marist Heritage.
1982
October
Rome
(Italy)
Br.Basilio
Rueda
75 Where and how are we as an institution in an apostolic and pastoral sense? Preparation for the writing of the Constitutions and Statutes.
1989
Sept. - Oct.
Veranópolis
(Brazil)
Br.Charles
Howard
69  Boldness and Hope: The Marist Brother and his mission for the future.
1997
Sept. - Oct.
Rome
(Italy)
Br.Benito
Arbués
91 Marist Apostolic Spirituality. Solidarity. Mission and educational principles. Formation and vocations ministry. Asset management.
2005
September
Negombo
(Sri Lanka)
Br.Seán
Sammon
39 Rekindle the vitality of the Marist charism and mission today.
2007
May-June
Rome
(Italy)
Br.Seán
Sammon
42 Reclaiming the spirit of the Hermitage.
Fire and passion in Marist leadership.
2013
September
L’Hermitage
(France)
Br.Emili
Turú
38

Awakening the Dawn:
Prophets and Mystics for Our Time

HermitageThe next General Conference will take place:

  • At Our Lady of the Hermitage
  • From September 8 to 29, 2013
  • Under the motto: Awakening the Dawn: Prophets and Mystics for Our Time

_____________
This is the first in a series of articles that will appear periodically on the web in preparation for the General Conference.

General Conference 2013

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