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Chapter: Day 34

 

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Presentation of the revised Constitutions and Statutes

11/10/2017: Colombia

The focus of the work of the Chapter for the days remaining until the 20th October, will be on the texts of the revised Constitutions and Statutes, and the ‘Rule of Life”. These proposed texts are the result of the work done by the International Commission for the Revision of the Constitutions over the past 2 years.

 

The capitulants all met in the Chapter Hall, after the morning Eucharistic. The whole morning was dedicated to the presentation of the five Chapters of the revised format of the Constitutions and Statutes. In the first session, Brothers Tony Clark, Sebastião Ferrarini and Eduardo Navarro presented the first four chapters that relate to the core of the identity, consecration, life and mission of the Marist Brother. In the second session, Brother Josep Maria Soteras presented chapter 5, which relates to government and administration in the Institute. After the two presentations there was time for conversation at the tables and then questions of clarification in plenary.

Following are some key indications of what is different in each chapter of the revised Constitutions and Statutes.

 

Chapter I: Our identity as Marist Brother in the Church

Chapter 1 is like a summary, a foundation and a template for the other 4 chapters

  • It now recognizes the Marist Brothers being part of the larger Marist story (Society of Mary)
  • There is a clearer articulation of articles on our vocation as Brothers, our charism & spirituality, and our mission
  • There is a new article that recognizes other people also share the Marist charism and identify as being ‘Marist’. Together we form a global Champagnat Marist charismatic family.
  • Inclusion of regional collaboration & structures

 

Chapter 2: Our Being Religious Brothers

This chapter focusses on consecration and the evangelical counsels of chastity, poverty and obedience, and how these are lived in community.

  • Elimination of elements that connote superiority in relation to the lay vocation: Consecration is grounded in Baptism, based in communion with the laity, in the eperience of spirituality and mission
  • Importance of mysticism and prophecy
  • Positive perspective in relation to living the evangelical counsels, source of fullness and human and Christian maturity that brings joy
  • Improvement of language in relation to the formation and experience of sexuality and affectivity, in view of being people who are reliable in working with children
  • Inclusion of themes related to the evangelical use of goods and making a commitment to peace, justice and care with creation
  • Eliminate the connection of obedience with authority, leaving aside any connotations of superiority.

 

Chapter III: Our Lives as Brothers

This chapter focuses on community, spirituality and mission:

  • Community: fraternity, humanized communities (open, inclusive - young, lay), new international communities with lay people
  • Spirituality: Spirituality is not just a life of prayer, more contemplation and mysticism; focus on the experience of God; linked to life, the church and the world; shared with young people, laity and other ecclesial communities; more contemplative, care of creation
  • Mission: new spaces, new presences; made in collaboration with lay people and other organizations; open to new perspectives (interiority, ecology, leadership, justice and peace); promotion of children's rights; new projects according to emerging needs in the global context.

 

Chapter 4: Our Journey as Brothers

The chapter relates to Initial & Ongoing Formation, admission to the Institute and Leaving the Institute

  • More clearly defines the purposes of the phases of initial formation and ongoing formation
  • We have tried to incorporate the language and concepts recommended at the Marist International Colloquium on Initial Formation (L’Hermitage 2015): phases not stages; focus on personal pathways; shared formational opportunities with lay Marists
  • More emphasis on formation process: developing interiority/contemplation; global availability; international-intercultural formation
  • New article and statutes on the dismissal of a Brother.

 

Chapter 5. Our organization as Brothers

What is essentially new in chapter 5 is the uniting what was formerly two chapters into one: Government and Administration. Presenting the chapter this way avoids the impression there are two powers and shows that government aims to create a unity in all activities.

In relation to the Institute's government, new bodies such as assemblies, conferences and extended councils have been introduced. The chapter also clarifies what distinguishes a religious house from the Marist works. Rather than legislating Marist in the Constitutions, these could eventually be included in an administration guide.

The concept of "unity of life and mission" has been introduced. Provinces and Districts are classified as Administrative Units, with communities comprising the basic cell of these units. The concept of regionalization is now recognized, without a region being an administrative unit. This leaves room for experimentation. With the consent of the General Council, each region can define its own statutes and how it will function. Another new structure introduced are Vice-Provinces. A Vice-Province can occur when two Provinces can fuse into one, but with two Vice-Provinces, each with its own Vicar Provincial. This creates a unity for the sake of mission, but also allows closer pastoral care of the Brothers and communities.

The presence and co-responsibility of lay people in government is also included in the revised text. They can participate through delegation of responsibility in management roles, coordination, etc. Some Provinces or Districts may choose to recognize lay people making commitments. There are also different ways of belonging:

  • At institute and provincial level: MChFM, temporary participation in a community, affiliation
  • Only at the Province level: personal commitment inherent in spirituality and mission, recognition of an association as an expression of the charism.

 

Individual reading

Much of the afternoon was given to capitulants to read the revised Constitutions noting down where changes or proposals for alterations to the content. Tomorrow, Thursday, various chapters will be allocated to each of the tables. Capitulants at each table will work through each Chapter to assess whether the articles or statutes are acceptable or whether change is required.

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