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Letter concerning the pre-chapter process

12/01/2017: General House

The Preparatory Commission of the XXII General Chapter has written a letter to all the Marists of Champagnat, Brothers and Laity, from your administrative unit who have already begun the preparation process or will start it soon.

____________________

Dear Marists of Champagnat,

Greetings from Rome! We are keen to touch base once again about the preparations for the General Chapter.

We are most appreciative of the feedback the Provincials and leaders have communicated to us about the Pre-Chapter process that has occurred to this point in time in your region. This has been most helpful to the Preparatory Commission at its December meeting.

It is heartening to hear the news about the creativity and diversity of approaches that have been adopted as people have engaged in the first phase of the process. Some administrative units have appointed individuals or teams to co-ordinate the process, some have taken the three conversations in the first phase over one day engaging brothers, lay people and young Marists, just to name a few.

We are aware that in some parts of the world the process is yet to begin due to the timing at the conclusion of the year. Nevertheless, the plans we have heard about for early next year are equally exciting. The integrity of the Pre-Chapter design is more important than the timeframes in which it occurs.

It is encouraging to hear about the engagement of all Marists. From our perspective, full engagement of the Marist world in the process is most important. The foundations we are laying in the lead up to the Chapter are designed to be representative of the whole Marist world. In preparation for the discernment which will occur during the Chapter itself it is essential that we have a grasp of the realities of people’s lives and experience across the world in which we have our mission. Without this foundation, our discernment will surely be limited and not adequately respond to the present needs of young people.

In this light, the 2nd Phase of the Pre-Chapter process involving the immersion experience is even more significant. We have shaped a Chapter design which is articulated around a re- discovery of our world. This rediscovery will provide indications as we co-create the future. We would like to re-cap the purpose of this key phase. What is this phase really about?

  • It aims to have all Marists experience a small portion of the world around us to which we would not normally connect.
  • It encourages us to go to the peripheries in our local context so that we can enter new territories in our own awareness, which could impact the Chapter, and indeed, the whole Marist world as it receives the fruit of the Chapter.
  • It will enable us to see with new eyes and open heart and mind the new realities which are shaping our world.

In the first instance, we strongly encourage Marists to personally go out to these places. However, we are conscious that this may not be possible for some Marists because of age, health or circumstance. We would suggest, for example, that you have a guest speaker come to your community to expose those present to a new reality or undertake some research or conversations with different people. There are many possibilities for this.

You will note that throughout the process we are inviting Marists to take a contemplative approach to the phases of these Pre-Chapter explorations. As was explained in the pre- Chapter process, we are encouraging contemplative dialogue. This involves sharing and active listening to each other and to those we encounter while being aware of the interior movements that we are experiencing. It is a ‘heart space’ we are inviting people to enter rather than a ‘head space’. In short, it requires us to be present to ourselves, each other and the world around us without rushing to conclusions or solutions.

We believe that adopting a methodology and stance which is genuinely contemplative and developing a new awareness of the world around us are the hinges upon which the Chapter hangs. In this way, we will be modeling ourselves on Marcellin’s contemplative stance towards life and capacity to see the emerging needs of the young people of his day. We hope that this is the pathway to a new beginning, the building of a New Lavalla.

Again, thank you for the creative engagement that has begun on this journey to the 22nd General Chapter and we encourage you to embrace the rest of the process with the same passion and enthusiasm.

Please feel free to contact any member of the Preparatory Commission for further clarification.

With blessings,

The Preparatory Commission for the General Chapter

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