Under the theme “Renew Hope”, the Province of Central America celebrated its XVI Provincial Chapter from 12 to 24 June. During the Chapter, Brother Provincial, Hipólito Pérez Gómez, began his second three-year term of office. The chapter also elected the members of the new provincial council: José Antonio Alonso, Juan Carlos Bolaños, Nicéforo Garrán, Daniel Martín, Manuel Matilla and Gerardo Munguía.
Thirty-six Brothers and more than 100 Lay Marists from Central America and the Caribbean (Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Puerto Rico and Cuba) were present at the virtual event. From Rome, Brothers João Carlos do Prado and Ken McDonald, General Councillors, liaison with the Province, accompanied the celebration. Brothers Ernesto Sánchez, Superior General, and Luis Carlos Gutiérrez, Vicar General, also participated at certain times.
Through a video message on the opening day, Brother Ernesto greeted all the brothers and lay people of the province and thanked Brother Hipólito for his availability to continue in the mission.
During the celebration of the chapter, initially scheduled for December 2020, the provincial highlighted the 3 priorities of the province:
- To generate life as Marists of Champagnat, in charismatic communities, being attentive to spirituality and vocational development.
- To promote a charismatic and innovative professional management, which is harmonious and responds to today’s challenges.
- We are aware and want to be attentive to the emerging realities of children and young people, to the social clamours and to the attention and care of the most vulnerable children, adolescents and young people.
During the 10 days of work, the brothers addressed issues related to the achievements and challenges in the province; the impact of the pandemic in the areas of education, solidarity, catechesis, youth and vocational ministry. They also highlighted the measures taken to accompany associations and help families affected by the pandemic; they spoke about the development and revision of legal structures more in line with the current reality in the countries. The brothers also reflected on how to further promote the vitality and fruitfulness of Marist life and mission in Central America, Cuba and Puerto Rico. They also addressed the expectations and dreams of the Province in the face of the priorities, bearing in mind the themes of Marists of Champagnat, Management and Leadership, and Emerging Realities.
As part of the agenda, the Marist life and mission in Honduras was also discussed and the Chapter was asked for suggestions and orientations to continue the process already begun. In this regard, Brother João Carlos, General Councillor, invited the Province to take on the mission in Honduras as its own. The financial situation of the Marist Association of Guatemala, the country where the houses of formation, the house of the Elder Brothers and the offices of animation of the Province are located, was also discussed.
During the closing session, the Provincial thanked everyone for the teamwork and, recalling the approaching 100 years of Marist presence in Central America, he emphasised that “the journey of the Province has the horizon of the celebration of the centenary of the Marist presence in our lands, with the arrival of the Colombian missionary brothers, in January 1923, in San Salvador”.
And he added: “Marists of Champagnat, I repeat once again, this is our hour, it is all the time we have in our hands to make the future? always with the confidence that God is walking at our side”.
For his part, the Superior General joined virtually all those present and after thanking the members of the previous Provincial Council, he said: “Thank you again, Hippolyte. And we are with you on this journey. And of course, you are not alone, because your Council has also been elected. Thank you and congratulations also to the new Provincial Council for accepting this service to the Province and to the Institute. Thank you very much. I believe that you will be a great support for Hipólito, together with all the other animation teams, brothers and laypeople of the province”.
Likewise, Brother Luis Carlos pointed out that: “Brothers and friends, all the Marists of Champagnat, may we fill our bags with hope and joy, may we be active Samaritans in these itineraries of life, with our Central American and Caribbean peoples. May we aspire to serve, more and better, to educate, more and better, to evangelise, more and better, to all, and especially to the weakest and most fragile in our societies. May our searches always have the passion of God in our hearts”.
Br. João also greeted and thanked those present and recalled that along the way “God has placed challenges and opportunities. The pandemic has been a great challenge for all of us, the technologies have been great options for all of us,” he said. Before concluding, Br João spoke of the challenges of the entire province and said that the brothers and lay people have to assume “in their minds and hearts” the horizon that God sets before them all.
For his part, Brother Ken also greeted the brothers and lay people of the province: “Thank you very much for all the work done during this assembly and the Provincial Chapter. Many congratulations to Hipólito and the new Council.”
At the end of the celebration, Brother Hipólito thanked the Council that ended its function, made up of the brothers Carlos Vélez, Juan Antonio, Gregorio and Jorge Sánchez. And he welcomed the new members of the Provincial Council. “Together we will try to give the best of ourselves in this entrusted service. We have all the fraternal support and prayers of the province ”, he concluded.