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European meeting of the Champagnat Movement

06/09/2006: Spain - Photo gallery

From the 10th to the 13th August, the first European Meeting of leaders of the Champagnat Movement of the Marist Family took place at the Cardinal Cisneros University school in Alcala de Henares (Madrid - Spain). This meeting is part of the Movement’s awareness and animation programme by the Bureau for the Laity, which started last November with the first American Meeting held at Fusagasuga (Colombia).

The sixty fraternities of the movement in Europe were represented by forty-two participants (thirty-three laypeople and nine brothers) with the accompaniment of Brothers Pedro Herreros, C.G., and Pau Fornells, director of the Institute’s Bureau for the Laity, and with delegations from Spain, France, Belgium, Germany, Portugal, Italy, Greece and Syria.

Starting with the slogan of the meeting, “To be Marists, a passion that is always new!” we proposed three fundamental objectives:
1. To have a mutual knowledge of our fraternities from the five Provinces of Europe and to study our way of structuring, encouraging and forming ourselves, as well as our activities and commitments, etc.
2. To reflect together on the identity of the Movement in Europe: a Marist lay identity, the role of the brother in the fraternities, belonging to the Church, etc.
3. To consider the future of the Movement: structure for a better development, the role that the Bureau for the Laity can fulfil, the way of sharing our experiences and our resources in the region and in the Institute, etc.

The atmosphere was very fraternal and the family spirit helped to break down the barriers of language and diversity. Marcellin’s desire for one heart and one soul was something that was very easy to translate by words and gestures that were repeated throughout the entire meeting. The time seemed too brief for so many things that we wanted to share and to learn from others. At the end, a very strong feeling dominated: the Spirit predicts a splendid future for the Movement in Europe. There are many expectations and concerns; there is a lot of creativity and daring and the will to grow.

As a grain of mustard for the structuring of the Champagnat Movement in Europe, the participants decided to submit the following three propositions to the five Brothers Provincial of Europe:
a) To continue to organise a meeting of those responsible for the Champagnat Movement in each Province at the European level every four years, before the General Conferences and General Chapters of the Institute.
b) To create a European Council of the Champagnat Movement of the Marist Family, formed by one lay delegate from each of the Provinces, which will meet annually with the Bureau for the Laity of the Institute and which will have as its aims to analyse the progress of the fraternities and to animate them.
c) To intensify the use of the already existing means of communication: web page, the blog on the laity, e-mails, magazines, etc. to exchange information and reflection material, to give information about meetings for formation and retreats, to maintain contact between fraternities and with the Bureau for the Laity, etc.

Here are some points of view expressed by the participants in the final evaluation of the meeting:
* I feel a great joy in seeing so many people on the same journey as myself, even if I am very much aware of need to make more progress.
* I am returning home with a great feeling of confidence and of hope. I have felt encouraged to participate in our fraternities through everything that I have heard and all that has been discussed in our meetings.
* I feel filled with the Spirit, confidant, motivated, interested. I would like to stress the feeling of fraternity towards all.
* I feel I am a member of a large family, integrated, encouraged, sustained. I was very encouraged by our interest and our desire to advance, to grow, knowing that many more things unite us than separate us.
* I leave enchanted and enthusiastic, knowing that I belong to a movement that is fundamental in my life. I knew this already, but the meeting has completely confirmed this.
* I am happy to feel part of the Movement and to see many ways of realising the same life project. The great richness of diversity has encouraged me, but I have also been discouraged by fears of going forward further.
* I recognise that our tent has been enlarged and that the Marist charism of Champagnat continues to live in more and more people… I was encouraged by the harmony of what we share: charism, spirituality and mission. Nothing has discouraged me, but I am concerned that we need to work more in two Provinces: a greater harmony between the former Provinces that now form just one and a greater autonomy of lay people and fraternities.
* I felt welcomed as in a family. I leave with new dreams and renewed energy. I was encouraged to see that, in the diversity, one same spirit and one same charism unite us and I have the certitude that it is possible to work together in order to create the future. Discouragement does not beat me but leads me to go further.
* It was very enjoyable to be with all the Provinces of Europe to share and to give us new impetus. The reticence of some persons to go forward further discouraged me. Marist Europe must be turned towards the future.
* A very positive atmosphere that gave me the desire to go further. I rejoice that we want to go forward even if there are a few exceptions. Discouraged? By positions that are too rigid.
* I feel I am more Marist. I leave with my heart and spirit full of emotions, of gratitude and of fraternity. This meeting was fraternal, motivating and life giving. What encouraged me the most was knowing that I am a Marist among so many others and we can foresee a better future for my fraternity of laypeople. Above all we were: animating brothers and accompanying laypeople… I hope that, from now on, we will be able to have an animating layperson (helped by a team, in which there could also be a brother) and other members of the fraternity who will be brothers and laypeople. Nothing discouraged me.
* I feel very happy with my brothers and sisters, to share the same spirituality and the same charism. Seeing people who have common hopes and concerns encouraged me. I am concerned a bit about the rigidity of some, especially when it concerns ideas.
* I feel part of a family. I did not want this meeting to ever finish. In force for the future, for continuing. for building…

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