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Training course for secretaries and archivists

 

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Course in the General House from March 3 to 12

27/03/2014: General House - Photo gallery

From Monday 3 to Wednesday 12 of March, a training course for English-speaking secretaries and archivists took place at the Champagnat Hall of the General House in Rome. This project of integrated and digital management of the Institute’s data and documents had offered a first training session to the provincial secretaries of Spain in Guardamar from October 3 to 7, 2011. On that occasion, the KOSMOS-fms data system was introduced for the first time, and the group suggested a number of adjustments, improvements and new developments.

With an updated version of the software, the implementation of KOSMOS-fms went on through a number of training sessions: Lyon, from October 26 to November 2, 2011, in French; Mexico City, from November 28 to December 2, 2011, for the USA and Latin America; Nairobi, from January 3 to 10, 2012; and Davao, from February 9 to 14, 2012. From March 11 to 15, 2012, the ARCHIVUM document management software (version 3) was presented in Alcala de Henares, and the progress of the KOSMOS-fms software was assessed. From May 13 to 18, 2013, the final implementation stage of the KOSMOS-fms software took place in Latin America, and ARCHIVUM was also launched in that region, but was a pending task in the English speaking world.

The participants arrived from faraway places such as the District of Melanesia and the Pacific, the Provinces of Australia, South Asia, and East Asia. The African continent was represented by the District of Ghana, and the Provinces of Central-East Africa, Southern Africa, and Nigeria. From Europe we had the participation of the Central-West Province, and of the Province of the United States from the North American area. The group of 18 secretaries and archivists was a rich expression of diversity and internationality, to which we are now accustomed in the Institute.

The course revolved around the understanding and use of the KOSMOS and ARCHIVUM programs, two powerful tools in this type of work.

The technical details of the ARCHIVUM software were described by Roberto Porta Roigé, who presented the program together with Monserrat Sánchez, the person in charge of the provincial archives of the Hermitage:

It is a document management software for the integrated organization of the Marist Institute’s files. ARCHIVUM 3.0 resulted from combining ARCHIVUM 2.0, its predecessor, and PERGAMUM, a library file managing software. This program enables the classification and description of several collections of archive documents, either in digital or physical format. It also manages the documents’ life cycle, and is therefore designed to introduce a document in the system from the moment it is generated until it is destroyed or permanently preserved. Finally, it includes a powerful query tool providing fast and easy access to documents.

ARCHIVUM is aimed at allowing the Institute to manage its documents appropriately, facilitating cooperation and networking between the Marist Provinces, optimizing time and resources, and ensuring both the accessibility of documents and the preservation of the Marist Institute’s documentary heritage.

The KOSMOS database software was described by its creator and developer, Brother Marcelo C. F. De Brito (Province of Cruz del Sur):

It is a database software used by the Institute consisting in three main information blocks: Administrative Units, houses (communities and works), and the people (brothers and laity) who make Marist life possible in every corner of the world. It enables the data management required both by the General Administration and the Secretariat of each Province and District. It is also intended to offer statistics and information which can be useful when creating possible future scenarios, and also a retrospective look at the Institute through time.

It is a centralized system with decentralized management, where each Administrative Unit permanently updates its data. The basic approach is that whoever performs an action registers the corresponding data. On the other hand, it is an open system allowing the Administrative Units to safely integrate their data in local and personalized settings, maintaining a single database that provides information to different systems at the same time. In this sense, KOSMOS-fms is starting to be perceived as part of a large integrated system for the Institute.

We also counted with the participation of the group in charge of the PERGAMUN program – which includes the ARCHIVUM software – from the Pontifical University of Parana (Curitiba - Brazil), represented by Wellington Mousinho Medeiros (head of the Pergamum System) and Marcos Rogério de Souza (Archivum program analyst). During free time, they also presented a new library software system.

The course began with the presentation of the KOSMOS program by Brother Marcelo De Brito. The second part was dedicated to the ARCHIVUM program in its full extent, which was presented by Brother Josep Maria Soteras (General Council), Monserrat Sánchez and Roberto Porta Roigé (Province of the Hermitage). The work was intensive and included both theory and online practice, which in the case of KOSMOS consisted in entering data about the brothers from the respective Provinces, and in the case of ARCHIVUM, in doing exercises about what had been explained. Practical tasks were carried out mostly in the late afternoon, and many participants spent some time in the evening completing their work. Besides the course teachers, practical work was also assisted by Emanuela Lisciarelli and Dorotea Cinnani, members of the General Secretariat.

Not everything was study and practice, for there was also time for sharing, relaxing and enjoying Rome and its surroundings. On Saturday 22nd of March we visited the places where St. Francis lived and missioned in Assisi. The tour guide spoke about the religious, historical and artistic aspects of the Santa Maria degli Angeli and Saint Francis of Assisi basilicas. In the second part of the day there was an unguided visit to the Basilica of Santa Chiara and the Convent of San Damiano. There was always an atmosphere of spirituality, peace, calm and beauty. The weather of Umbria, a mixture of sun, clouds and light rain, accompanied us all the time. As we arrived in Rome in the afternoon we felt the delicious smell of an Argentinian barbecue that the brothers at the General House had prepared.

Sunday was a free day to visit Rome, St. Peter’s Square, and attend the Angelus by Pope Francis. In the evening everyone was back home, relaxed, and ready for the final stage of the course.

The final evaluation acknowledged how useful both programs are to safeguard our heritage, which goes from the time of Champagnat to our days. One of their goals is to help recover, maintain and remember the origins of the Institute and its life throughout the past 200 years. The group recognized that these programs, among other means, help to promote our identity and a distinctive way of being Marists today.

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Brother Carlos A. Huidobro FMS
Secretary General

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