Assistant General

I believe that it is important here to say a few words about that very important title that was confided to us at the General Chapter of 1958. Our order used the same system of administration from the beginning of the congregation. Our Founder had selected three Marist Brothers to assist him in the administration of the congregation. From that time to the present, the General Chapter named a number of Brothers to assist the Superior General. These Brothers were assigned to be the main representative of the Superior General in that area. Our authority came from the Superior General and his Council, and we were also on the board for all major decisions when we were in attendance at the meetings of the General Council. This system was in force up to the General Council of 1976, when the title Assistant General was no longer used. The Brothers assigned to be on the General Council of the Superior General were his advisors and could be sent off to study a problem in the name of the General Council and were required to report on the problem to the Council and to advise it as to what solutions ought to be tried. The entire General Council would then decide on a course of action. These Brothers were now known as “General Councilors.” They could be sent to any part of the congregation alone or with other General Councilors. This was a fundamental change for the Provinces. Before this, each area had its own person represent it, and he was fully responsible to advise the General Council for the implementation of the decisions that he saw fit to recommend.

Presently our General Councilors are basically the advisors of the Superior General and can be sent to any part of the congregation. They often visit in groups of three or more and then return to make their recommendations to the General Council for a final decision. They act as advisors to the Superior General and his General Council but are not directly responsible for the problems of a specific area. All of the eight or so General Councilors are at the service of the General and his Council. This new system has been in operation since the General Chapter of 1976.

This change accounted for the importance given to the General Councilor in charge of the specific countries assigned to him. He needed to become fully aware of their needs and particular situations before he could make thoughtful recommends to the General Council. As in all such cases there are advantages to each system even if they are basically different. Before, when I acted as the Assistant General for a specific area, I had to be fully knowledgeable of a problem or request before it was presented to the General Council. It was necessary for me to have a thorough knowledge of a very specific part of the congregation, whereas the new present system holds the entire General Council responsible for its decisions, and each of the Assistant Generals has to be concerned with each sector of the congregation and not only his assigned area.

It is with this initial system in mind that I had set out in 1958 as the Assistant General for specific areas. In this system the Assistant General had far more specific authority and was much less knowledgeable of the areas of congregation that were not in his charge. This also made for one to have a far greater attachment to the needs of the Provinces under his responsibility. With this difference explained I wish to go a little deeper into the administration of the various Provinces and missions that had been assigned to me.