A meeting major superiors of Marist provinces and mission districts held in Dublin, Ireland, has decided to strengthen the mission districts and consolidate established provinces.
The decision is the result of three years of work by Australian consultant, Dr John Honnor who, following up the 2010 General Chapter of the Society, was tasked by the superior general, Fr John Hannan, to consult with Marist provinces and mission districts and propose a review of the Society’s government.
The Council of the Society of Mary prefaced its recommendations with several cautions.
Significant for New Zealand, the Council of the Society has decided
- the Philippines mission district is now to become a priority ministry of the New Zealand province
- the superior general is to animate a constructive collegial process between Australia and New Zealand to ensure priority ministry are developed collaboratively
- the New Zealand submission on the place of Brothers in the future of Society of Mary be placed as an agenda item for the 2017 General Chapter.
Other restructuring sees
- the provinces of Oceania and Mexico to be given support, training, mentoring and other resources as needed and appropriate
- the districts of Brazil and Africa to continue to be supported through the office of the superior general, and the resources of the whole Society, in order that they become sustainable Marist districts
- the district of Peru-Venezuela come under the direct care of the superior general with a plan developed for its future, including the possibility it sometime in the future, being joined to a province.
- the superior general is also to animate constructive collegial processes between the provinces of Canada, Mexico and the Unites States with a view to ensuring priority ministries are collaboratively developed.
In making these recommendations, the Council of the Society of Mary stressed the need for five cautions
- recommended changes to structures and systems will make little difference unless there is a shared desire to improve the mission and government of the Society
- the Society currently has limited resources to invest in change and leadership, and any recommendations should not make too great a demand on the resilience and energies of the Society
- recommendations should still be open to new possibilities
- recommendations are guided by the likely disposition of the Society in ten years time
- mission is shaped at a local level should not be worked out in theory, but in the identification of priority ministries based on a sensitive response to the needs of the people of God.
The meeting, which happens every four years stressed the importance of increased levels of collegiality between the general administration and the provinces and districts. It placed a strong emphasis on the need for simplified systems of communication between the general administration the major superiors.
The meeting, also re-elected for another four years, Frs Kevin Duffy (Europe), Larry Duffy (Europe), Alejandro Munoz (Mexico), Lote Raiwalui (Oceania) to assist Superior General Fr John Hannan (Europe).
Fr Brian Cummings, the New Zealand provincial, represented the New Zealand province at the meeting.