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Communication from Marist International Commission for the Revision of the Constitutions

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After two weeks of works, from 2 to 14 November 2015, the Marist International Commission for the Revision of the Constitutions send to all Brothers of the Institute this communication that we copy here down.

___________________

Friday, 13th November 2015

To Brothers Provincial, District Superiors and all Brothers of the Institute
From Members of the Marist International Commission for the Revision of the Constitutions

 

Dear Brothers,

The Marist International Commission for the Revision of the Constitutions has just finished its first meeting at the General House in Rome. The purpose of this letter is to say a word of thanks, to report on the work of our first meeting and to give some indications of how we see the process for the review of the Constitutions proceeding from now until the General Chapter in 2017.

 

A word of thanks:

Firstly, we would like to acknowledge and thank the previous Commission for the excellent work they did in preparing the process for the first Consultation on the Constitutions entitled, ‘Stories of the Journey, Told Around The Fire’. Judging from anecdotal reports, and the feedback we received, it appears the process whereby Brothers shared their personal stories of how they are living aspects associated with the five main themes presented in the initial consultation was well received and generated good reflection and rich dialogue. We would also like want to thank all the many Administrative Units, communities, groups or individual Brothers who sent back their feedback on the five themes. We received approximately 700 reports!

 

The work of the first meeting:

A good part of our first meeting was spent reading, reflecting, synthesizing and analysing all the feedback so as to get a clear picture of what the Brothers are saying about the present version of the Constitutions. Following on from this, we also sought to identify through the feedback what the Holy Spirit is saying to us. What surprised and encouraged us from this exercise was the strong consensus that emerged from across the whole Institute about what elements from the Constitutions need be retained, which need to be reviewed or changed, and what new calls or pointers to the future need to be included. All these contributions helped to build up for us a very clear picture of what you want to see in the revised version of the Constitutions.

In addition to processing the feedback from the Brothers, our meeting agenda also included:

  • Learning about the revisions done by other Religious Congregations of Brothers; 
  • Consulting some Brothers on the history and development of the Marist Rule of Life and Constitutions since the beginnings of the Institute;
  • Consulting a representative from the Dicastery of the Vatican Congregation for Consecrated Life on the Canonical requirements associated with an Institute such as ours;
  • Deciding on a structure for the revised Constitutions; how writing tasks are to be allocated, the revision process, establishing a time-line and so on.

 

Some early indications:

At this early stage, we would like to share with you some observations about the directions the revision appears to be pointing:

  • While many asked for the core Marist principles and values need to be retained, there needs to be a thorough revision of the whole text.
  • The ‘inspirational’ and ‘normative’ elements of the text need to distinguish between those articles that describe the essence of our life as Brothers and those articles and statutes that are required of us by Canon Law.
  • The expression and general structure needs to be simplified.
  • The language must be inspirational, clear, consistent, and draw inspiration from more recent Church and Marist documents.
  • Our Constitutions must also recognise new developments, such as recent insights gained into our Marist origins, the relationship we now have with lay people who share our charism, spirituality and commitment to our mission, and new models of Government and animation.

These days of meeting and working together have been for all of us a great privilege and a graced experience. We are conscious of the great trust that has been placed in us by Brother Emili and the General Council to facilitate and complete this important work for the Institute. With openness and generosity, and sustained by our meditative prayer and Eucharist in common, we managed to quickly establish a climate of warm, fraternal dialogue and ease in working together. We are most grateful for the hospitality offered to us by the General House Community and the Brothers who have assisted us.

 

Looking ahead – the review process:

Looking forward, the general process we propose for the revision of the Constitutions between now and 2017 is as follows:

November 2015 to February 2016: Members of the Commission will prepare a 1st draft for general consultation;

April 2016 The 1st draft will be forwarded to Provincials and District Superiors;

April to September 2016: Administrative Units and/or Regions will follow a process that enables Brothers to give feedback on the 1st draft;

By the 30th September 2016 Administrative units forward to Rome their synthesis 

October 2016: All the feedback is processed for review;

November 2016 to February 2017: Members of the Commission meet to reflect on and discuss the feedback and prepare a 2nd draft.

April 2017 The 2nd draft is presented to the Preparatory Commission for the XXII General Chapter to determine how they will process the draft with Chapter delegates.

 

In need of your prayer:

The Commission humbly asks Brothers and Communities to continue to pray for the important work of revising our Constitutions. Please pray that this work may truly be a work of the Holy Spirit, honouring our traditions, acknowledging our present realities, inspiring all of us as we journey on with confidence to joyfully live the gift of our Marist Brotherhood in the Church, in the world and among those brothers and sisters we are called to serve.

Fraternally,

___________

Members of the Marist International Commission for the Revision of the Constitutions
Rome,13th November 2016

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