Pre-Chapter Preparation: General & Regional Level Governances

WP region governances

 

Below are the Brothers’ responses from the first phase of the pre-chapter reflections.  After reflecting on the Description of the Charism, the Brothers were asked to think about and discern what practices or exercises could be adopted by all members of the Congregation in order for us to live more deeply and intentionally the Charism of the Congregation.  Here the suggested practices from the Brothers are grouped according to specific statements from the Description that gave rise to each suggested practice.  You will see that certain themes are repeated. We did not want to combine similar practices in this document, but rather allow the Brothers to see all that was suggested, and thus see some common themes.  The Working Committees for the General Chapter will further refine these practices based on feedback received from the Brothers individually, or from community/area gatherings.

At this stage of the process, you are invited to reflect on this material both individually and in community or area gatherings.  Please identify what practices you support, or make suggestions as to any additional practices you think should be considered.  Please send group summaries or individual responses to Stephanie Stricker at the Generalate by 15 June 2013. (Sstricker@xaverianbrothers.org). Chapter Delegates have been encouraged to help organize gatherings, if possible.

 

SPECIFIC STATEMENT FROM DESCRIPTION:

“We believe that the Xaverian calling is a way of being put in our place in the world , a place of humility and simplicity from which we receive the grace to turn toward God…” etc.

Suggested Practices:

(1) We believe God’s loving presence surrounds our “place” as Brothers in the world and beckons us to fall in love, to serve others as followers of Christ.  Since presence to God and each other is a way in which God never ceases to mediate his gracious love, we believe that not only our communities but also our Leadership needs to be a presence and among us not only through fractional or technological communication.  This being so, we believe that over the course of six years, our Brother General ought to visit each Xaverian Community and also have a private meeting with each Brother.

 

SPECIFIC STATEMENT FROM DESCRIPTION:

“We aspire to realize our Founder’s vision of ‘a band of Brothers who mutually help, encourage, and edify one another, and who work together.'”

Suggested Practices:

(1) At this time we need a General Superior who has a good idea of all the areas of governance, but who is helped by competent persons in legal, finance, and school sponsorship areas, and who is willing to delegate most everything to them.  While he has a general awareness of what they are doing, he gives them authority to carry out policies while he spends most of his energy and time in pastoral care throughout the Congregation.   The primary thing he will be doing will be to work with the “conveners” mentioned in my first suggestion, and helping the Brothers throughout the world to engage in fraternal and honest dialogue about their spirituality, how they live their lives as Xaverian Brothers, the financial situation of our Congregation, and their needs, hopes, aspirations, and responsibilities.  He should have staff assistants in doing this work, which, in reality, will be a horizontal style of governance rather than a top down system.

(2) It is time to re-think the congregation of governance and to involve more of the Brothers in planning and decision making.

(3) Brothers in leadership positions strive to be alert to possible areas in which individual or groups of Brothers may be able to provide assistance or presence.

(4) Brothers in leadership positions will call members to activities of service or presence according to the gifts of each, including the ministry of prayer for those no longer capable of more physical activity.

(5) More area meetings which have a consultative, not merely educational function

(6) Revitalize area coordinators who would be the “face” of the GS and would begin again the practice of area meetings.

(7) Leadership should periodically solicit input from membership regarding governance structure and practices

(8) That Brothers in the various regions gather at least once a year for fraternal sharing to one another. A portion on the fraternal time be spent in prayerful reflection of way in which we can mutually help, encourage and edify one another and reflect on these issues which seem to be surfacing in the region.

(9) Evaluate present leadership model

(10) Support new leadership to be more collaborative

(11) Because of the communication with the Brothers in Belgium (and Congo?) it should be practical that the general superior would speak French. It’s also acceptable a general councilor should be practical that the general superior would speak French.  It’s also acceptable a general councilor should speak French, a person in which the brothers have confidence.

(12) Better communication from the General Council so that we know what they are discussing and what kinds of decisions are being made which affect our lives and ministries.

(13) I would hope that an evaluation will be made of ways in which decisions made them were and were not implemented to avoid the same mistakes this time.

(14) More contact with general and regional governances.

(15) That at least once every three years of his 6 year term, the General Superior visit each community and each Brother living along to foster fraternal relationships, to assess the spiritual and ministrial life of each Brother, and to encourage each member personally to continue steadfast fidelity to the Xaverian Way.

(16) Have the up-coming chapter delegates begin an evaluation of the new governmental structure we adapted in Baltimore three chapters ago.  Then expand that evaluation process to the entire congregation, thus empowering and reaching out to the entire membership.  Strengths and weakness of our present governmental structures would surface; adaptations and modifications would be suggested.

(17) To show the importance of Africa have VG reside in Africa with broad authority for decision-making.

 

SPECIFIC STATEMENT FROM DESCRIPTION:

“In community we are encouraged to discover our gifts and talents . . . calling each other to greater service of the Lord.”

Suggested Practices:

(1) Try to promote general/regional governances that are less institutional and more pastoral and personal.

(2) Continue using electronic/internet resources for communication and contact but also try to provide physical contact/meeting when possible.

(3) Talk about how we see leadership’s role in the Congregation.  What do we want from Leadership?

(4) Distinguish between leadership and management.

(5) Brothers in leadership positions strive to get to know each of the Brothers personally by private conversations at least yearly.

 

SPECIFIC STATEMENT FROM DESCRIPTION:

“We live in Communion with the RCC Recognizing our place in the church is on the margin solidarity and availability.”

Suggested Practices:

(1) Continue to support the expanded roles of women in the church – speaking out in support of women’s issues.

(2) We need full time General Superior and Vicar General – and both visit the Brothers pastorally

(3) Collaborate with other congregations of Brothers to find our place in church structure.

 

SPECIFIC STATEMENT FROM DESCRIPTION:

“Participation at the Church’s mission by believing that education is the best way for that.”

Suggested Practices:

(1) Perhaps only our engagement to go on with Christian inspired education is not longer a clear future for congregations, because lay people and the State are taking over. They do that with definite directives and concrete programs. Because of that the congregation has to adapt and to look for answers on new states of emergency which present them in some areas were brothers are present.

(2) Even if in Belgium nor in America there isn’t any growth of the congregation, a refoundation can happen in other countries: Congo, Kenya, perhaps Haiti. God can grant the charism to young African brothers to start to encourage one another to a growing service to the Lord and to participate on this way on the Church’s mission.

 

SPECIFIC STATEMENT FROM DESCRIPTION:

“Impassioned by the Spirit-driven apostolic zeal, following the example of our patron Francis Xavier, we stand ready to leave the familiar and comfortable…”

Suggested Practices:

(1) Initiate a “mission coordinator” position on the generalate team, perhaps   “a counselor for mission” in the general council whose responsibilities would include active outreach to the brothers (volunteers, associates, etc) who minister outside of the States. Connection, congregational outreach, support would all be part of his responsibilities.

(2) Initiate ‘regional coordinators’ in the States, brothers who would assist in the animation, gathering, chapter follow-up of the men in the different geographical areas.  One man on the generalate staff could coordinate all the regional coordinators periodically.

 

OTHER CONSIDERATIONS FOR GENERAL, REGIONAL AND LOCAL LEADERSHIP:

(1) AT THE GENERAL LEVEL:

When looking at the composition of our Congregation (nothing but old brothers in Belgium, quickly aging brothers in the States and mostly younger brothers  in Africa), I wonder whether the division of the responsibilities of the General Superior and his councillors should not be reconsidered, in order that the General Superior be able to devote much more time in the African regions (three times a month) where, in close collaboration with the regional and local leaders, he exercises his leadership chiefly by studying, guiding, animating and encouraging each brother, each community, each responsible and each group of local and regional leaders, so that all of them look in the same direction according to the description of the Xaverian charism.

Moreover the financial administration requires a regular follow-up… Being loved makes the moral life possible.

(2) AT THE REGIONAL LEVEL IN AFRICA :

Given the problems which raised over the previous years in connection with the regional leadership, I believe that the following suggestions might be worth examining. As far as the future is concerned I am in favor of a regional council (nothing else) composed of a chairman and four members.

(a) What about the chairman? I see two possibilities :

– The Congolese brother who is elected as general councillor also becomes, with the consent of the General Superior and his Council, the regional leader.

– The General Superior consults the membership of the region. How? He asks all professed brothers having at least three years of vows to send in the names of three perpetually professed brothers who would make good leaders and, with the consent of his council, he appoints one of the three brothers for a term of three years, after having consulted the brother in question.

(b) What about the four council members?

– As the numbers of the perpetually professed brothers and the temporary professed brothers are almost the same, I would suggest that two perpetually professed brothers and two temporary professed brothers, having been under vows for at least three years, be elected as regional councillors. How?

– Preferably under the leadership of the General Superior or of his delegate all professed brothers meet and a separate ballot is organized for each councillor. To be elected a brother must get an absolute majority of the cast votes. The brother who was elected first (a perpetually professed brother) becomes the chairman’s vicar and will assume his duties when the latter is absent or unable to act.

(c) SECOND POSSIBILITY:
The local superiors of the active communities become the regional councillors and, among them, they appoint the chairman’s vicar.

(d) REGIONAL COUNCIL MEETINGS:
My suggestion would be that the dates of the regional council meetings (a meeting every five weeks the agenda of which is known and published in due time) be fixed at the beginning of the school-year. If the councillors have been selected, every third meeting is immediately followed by a second gathering also attended by the local superiors. This last group can judge whether or when a general assembly is desirable.

NOTE: It is obvious that each community or each individual brother, preferably supported by his community, can introduce an agenda item.

(e) As far as THE REGIONAL TREASURER is concerned, this appointment should best be done by the General Superior and his council, after consultation of the regional leader.

(3) AT THE LOCAL LEVEL IN AFRICA  (suggestion):

Once the composition of a community is known, the brothers of this community, with the consent of the General Superior and his Council, and after having discussed about what they expect from their leader, elect their local leader who must obtain an absolute majority of votes to be elected. This election must be confirmed by the General Superior before the brother elected can assume his office. The brothers also elect the local leader’s assistant who assumes the local leader’s duties when the latter is absent or unable to act. The regional leader and his assistant act when there is an urgent decision to be taken. But normally the community assembles once a month to discuss the interests of the community and its works.

 

RECOMMENDATION FROM GENERAL COUNCIL FOR CONSIDERATION BY GOVERNANCE COMMITTEE:
The Council recommends to the Congregational and Regional Government Committee that we have General Councilors for the U.S., Congo, and Kenya. There should also continue to be a General Councilor for Formation.


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