The Province of México Occidental held its XX Provincial Chapter from 17 to 19 July at the “Spacio La Valla” in Guadalajara. During the celebration, Br. Luis Enrique assumed his mandate as provincial. The new provincial council was also elected for the next three years, made up of Brothers Luis Roberto González, Sergio Cáceres, Raúl Fernando Lara Castro, Fernando Luis Alberto López Hernández, Melesio Tiscareño De Alba and Javier López Godina.
Brothers Ernesto Sánchez (Superior General), Brother João Carlos Do Prado (General Councillor) and Brothers Luis Felipe González and José Sánchez from the Province of México Central were present in person. The sessions were accompanied virtually by four Brothers capitulants who joined us from Haiti, several lay Marists, Mexican Brothers and Brothers from the Haitian sector.
During the days prior to the Chapter work, the Brothers spoke about the objective of achieving a more dialogue-oriented Province, capable of building simple and horizontal structures in function of the mission, starting from the idea of being a light for the people, building welcoming communities and achieving inclusion and complementarity between laypeople and Brothers.
On 18 July, during the first day of Chapter work, two important moments took place: the report of Brother Miguel Ángel Santos, outgoing Provincial, and the Eucharist of Brother Luis Enrique Rodríguez, who shared his dreams for the Province, making use of the signs of fire, earth, air and water, a symbolism which accompanied the theme of the retreat.
Br. Miguel, Provincial for two three years, highlighted some of the elements of his term of office, and also mentioned the nuclei of the Provincial itinerary: “Care and development of the community”, “Charismatic formation”, “Education”, “Provincial Services” and “Social transformation”.
During the day of 19 July, the election of the Provincial Council which will accompany Brother Luis Enrique and the Province for the next three years took place. Throughout the day, suggestions were made to the next Provincial Council, and the following themes were addressed: “Sense of Province”, “Marist Brothers and Communities”, “Marist Laity”, “Marist Mission and Works”, “Haiti Sector”, “Provincial Government” and “Arco Norte Region and Marist Mexico”.
Br. Luis Enrique thanked Br. Miguel and all those present and invited the brothers to take care of the vocation, to spread the joy of being a brother, to encourage accompaniment and the promotion of the lay vocation. On the other hand, he pointed to the new projects taken on by the Province. “We are a Province, we are brothers, we are a community”, he said at the end of his message.
Before concluding the session, Br. Ernesto Sanchez thanked Br. Miguel and his Provincial Council and congratulated the new Provincial Council. He also recalled that Canada will soon be configured as a district and will be supported extensively in the USA and in Marist Mexico. “We need to team up, we need to do it together. And my invitation is that, in these new times, we should be able to take risks, to leave our comfort zone, to accept the innovation, to welcome it without fear and to respond,” said the Superior General, in a message after the Provincial Chapter.
For his part, Brother João identified the challenge of continuing to prioritise the Vocations Ministry of Brothers and lay people, with an emphasis on the vocation to the consecrated life, as a challenge. He pointed out that a new challenge will be to work on the “Constitutions” and the “Rule of Life”, as well as the process of renewing the “Brothers’ Formation Plan”.
During his intervention, Brother José Sánchez, outgoing Provincial of México Central, expressed his gratitude for the invitation and acknowledged the affection for Marist life and mission in the Province. For his part, Brother Luis Felipe González Ruíz, Provincial elect of México Central, expressed his gratitude for the time shared in the interprovincial work places, and for the opportunity to work with Brother Luis Enrique. He invited them to recognise that both Marist Provinces of Mexico walk together and are recognised as Marist Mexico. The Provincial Chapter proposed a Second Session of the Provincial Chapter to be held possibly in December 2021.
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.
During the VII Chapter of the Province in Norandina, held in Fusagasuga (Colombia), from the 3 to the 5 of June, the Brothers elected the new provincial council.
32 brothers participated, including incoming and outgoing provincials, 11 brothers from Colombia, 7 from Ecuador, 7 from Venezuela and 5 temporary professed brothers.
On the first day of the Chapter’s sessions, the Eucharist was celebrated for the opening and possession of Br. Orlando Escobar, as the new Provincial; one of the most significant moments, was when Bro. César Rojas, handed him a lighted lantern, inviting him to be “Beacon of Hope” with his testimony in the provincial animation.
That same day, the superior general Ernesto Sanchez, along with Brothers João Carlos do Prado and Ken McDonald, general counselors, that participated on behalf of the general administration. During his speech, Brother Ernesto invited the participants to see beyond, not to be afraid of the novelty and to take care of the sprouts of life that are being born and make synergy with others.
The second day was dedicated to the balance and report of the provincial animation of the past triennium César Rojas and the counselors of this same period. On the same day, they began to reflect on the function of dreaming the calls for the new triennium of animation; for this, the capitular brothers had access to the reports of the different commissions and provincial animation teams.
On the third day chapter, the synthesis of calls proposals were made along with the lines of action to operationalize them; likewise, they discussed the provincial organization of the previous three years and another way of animation that is more suitable for the new government of the province.
The last day of the Chapter was centered on three important moments, the reading of the regulations and the election of the new provincial council; the presentation of the financial report for the three years and ended with the closing Eucharist and sending the new provincial council 2021 – 2023, ending the VII Provincial Chapter under the slogan ”With helping hands, let’s be life”.
The new provincial council elected at the Feast of San Marcelino is made up of Brothers Julián Olmo, Carlos Regalado, Diego Zawadzky, Orlando Escobar (Provincial), José Miguel Caballero, Carlos Saúl Corzo and Leonardo Yepes.
On April 12, the American Conference of Provincials (CAP) was held with the topic Leadership in times of uncertainty. This time, it was attended by the General Superior, Br. Ernesto Sánchez, the General Vicar, Br. Luis Carlos Gutierrez, four General Councelors, Bro. Oscar Martin Vicario, Sylvain Ramandimbiarisoa, Ken McDonald, the Executive Secretaries of the South America and Arco Norte Regions, Bros. Alberto Aparicio and Rodrigo Espinosa Larracoechea, respectively, and the outgoing and incoming Provincials of the 10 Marist Provinces of the American continent.
“I welcome the initiative to be meet here together and, above all, with the topic of leadership in times of uncertainty, ” said Br. Ernesto to open the meeting where current Provincials of the two regions, América Sur and Arco Norte talked about their experiences in the context of the pandemic. “Today we are called to be testimonies of hope for better days. As Pope Francis said in his pascal homily: return to Galilee, there we will meet again and we will start over. That invitation is also for us, a request for us to resume our plans to start over”, he recalled.
Br. Inacio Etges, coordinator of the Permanent Council of the CAP and the América Sur Region, talked about the importance of the support of an open and fraternal dialogue among the provinces: “As leaders today, we are prophets of hope ”.
The meeting had three moments. The first part was an expository approach to the current moment of leadership in these Marist spaces. After the opening, the Executive Secretary of the América Sur Region, Br. Alberto Aparicio, followed the conference, presenting the current status of the networks led by the two Regions: Red Corazón Solidario (Solidarity Heart Network) and Red de Espiritualidad (Spirituality Network).
Leadership in times of uncertainty In the second stage of the meeting, the Vicar General, Br. Luis Carlos Gutiérrez, gave a reflection on the responsibilities and challenges that the current Provincials must have as a horizon in their daily activities in each Marist space. “The current situation calls for leadership in key of hope, confident, bold and fraternal, together and not isolated, to assume the future with confidence and firm small steps ” he said. “Let’s be a leadership who listens, understands and proposes what is needed in times of uncertainty, ” he concluded.
Division into groups for reflections The third and last stage of the meeting consisted of dividing groups by language for a brief dialogue on the reflections presented. The provincial animators shared among themselves the main fears and how to face them for the future, where the reality coincided that the American continent has many similarities and riches that can be used together to follow the path of the Marist mission. The next conference will be held on September 8.
We thank Júlia Córdova, América Sur Region, for the information for the preparation of this note.
Inspired and encouraged by Pope Francis’ Lenten message, on February 22, the Arco Norte Regional Council met by video-conference to continue walking with hope, in “a new present, a better future”, in construction of the North Marist Arch.
In this meeting the “family is enlarged” with the participation of numerous participants. The provincial brothers of the Region: HH. Gérard Bachand (Canadá), Patrick McNamara (Estados Unidos), José Sánchez (México Central), César Augusto Rojas (Norandina), Miguel Ángel Santos (México Occidental), Tomás Briongos (Compostela – Honduras) e Hipólito Pérez (América Central).
We had the joy of the participation of the four new provincial brothers, recently appointed in the region: HH. Orlando Escobar (Norandina), Luis Enrique Rodríguez (México Occidental), Luis Felipe González (México Central) y Dan O’Riordan (Estados Unidos). It was a good opportunity to give them the most fraternal and cordial welcome, while favoring a serene transition process in regional leadership.
João Carlos do Prado and Ken McDonald accompanied us as usual, the brother General Councilors liaison of the region.
Brother Rodrigo Espinosa, in his mission as Executive Secretary, convened, raised the agenda and carried out the session with success, fruitfulness and responsibility.
The most important aspects developed were:
A moment to share the provincial journey with the following guidelines: How do I feel today? … Some sign of hope and some special situation in my Province.
Approval of documents: CAP regulations, updated SWOT, Plan of the Hermanos Hoy Team, and Organizations and functions of the Region.
Presentation, reflection and approval of the new regional logo, with the participation of Jessica Urquiza as coordinator of the Communications Team. We congratulate and thank all the members of this team for their dedication and creativity in this initiative.
Follow-up and information on the processes in which the region is involved: Province of Canada, La Valla 200 Montagne community (Holguín-Cuba), La Valla Interprovincial Novitiate (Medellín, Colombia) and Marist Life and Mission in Honduras.
Information from the International Mission Commission.
Organization of the CAP 2021 meeting.
“That, in this season of Lent, we live with hope, being artisans and witnesses of the new time, for Marist life and mission in the Region, in which God makes all things new”
(cf. Mensaje de Cuaresma 2021, Papa Francisco)
Fraternally, Hipólito Pérez, fms Arco Norte Coordinator Provincial of Central America