The Rule of Life (remember that's our Marianist guide book) has very specific procedures about how members to the General Chapter are selected. First, all members of the General Administration (that's our international leadership team) must attend. Then, some members of national leadership teams attend "by right" because of the office they hold. In the US Province, for example, Fr. Marty and Bro. Joe attend because they are our number 1 and number 2 guys in leadership. Finally, other members are elected. Because of our size, the US Province was able to elect four additional members - Fr. Oscar, Bro. Bernie, Bro. Dennis and myself. (This is a general overview. It can actually get a little complicated, but luckily we have people that understand all the technical mumbo jumbo.)
So this year, there are a total of 33 Capitulants (i.e. delegates) both "by right" and those elected. Of the 32 countries where male Marianist Religious are present, this year's Capitulants come from 18 countries. (You might think that is a little odd, but a place like Ireland is part of the US Province and Cuba is part of the Spain Province. So, there is some overlap). Among these members, there is a mix of both Brothers and Priests, and 14 of us are here at the Chapter for the first time.
|What a good looking group, right?|
Everyone at the Chapter is able to speak one of the 3 official languages of the Society of Mary - French, English and Spanish. Some are able to do all three. Yours truly can only manage English (and that's only on a good day). So, we rely heavily on translators. We have four Marianists (3 vowed religious and one layman) who sit in boxes during our meetings and provide simultaneous translation for us when the speaker is using a language we don't know. Each of the Capitulants is given a headset and transponder through which the translation can (magically) be heard. The translators really are amazing in that they are able to switch among languages with relative ease.
|It's the very rare Headphone Tree.|
|The translation booths.|
|Perico - translator extraordinaire!|
|Of course, you have to be comfortable.|
Along with the translators, there are other "auxiliary personnel" who help out. There are two secretaries (one who is taking minutes and one who is in charge of communications.) And then there is the staff of the house which makes sure that we are well fed (more about the food later) and that the normal day-to-day tasks are taken care of. They really allow us to focus on our work.
|Bro. Peter, our recording secretary.|
|Fr. Dani, in charge of communications.|
So, you might say that it really takes a village (maybe in the Marianist world we would say a "community") to pull off the General Chapter.
BUT WAIT, THERE'S MORE!!!!
If you skipped ahead...here you go.....
While they may not be in Rome, the General Chapter cannot happen without many other people around the world. And that includes YOU. Yes YOU reading this right now and other Marianists and partners in our apostolic works. The task of the Chapter relies heavily on YOUR prayers. And so we ask that you say a prayer for all of us gathered in Rome the next few weeks. Pray that the Holy Spirit might guide us and that the spirit of our Blessed Founder - Fr. Chaminade - might animate all that we do.
Now, if you are techno-savvy, you can also get involved by following @smromasm on Twitter and by liking SMRoma18 on Facebook. Here you can find updates about what is going on each day. And of course, check back here :)
Until next time....Ciao!