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Building the Dream of Champagnat

09/09/2007: Brazil

Today, 5 September, members of the Assembly reflected on the development of their own Marist life beside youth in different parts of the world and with quite varied expressions. For this these twelve experiences were presented:
Sydney - WYD ’08 & Marist Festival Br. David Hall,
Madagascar - Mission Champagnat: Ihorombe, Br. Thomas Radriananteniana,
Brasil - Marist Youth Ministry, Br. Joao Carlos do Prado,
Asia - Fidelity in Times of Crisis Br. Tom Chin,
Philippines - Community Extension Program: N. D. of Dadiangas Virginia Manalo,
México - To Learn by Serving: Universidad Marista Mérida Br. Héctor Dessavre.
Sydney - Indigenous Education Program: St Joseph’s College Ross Tarlinton
Mediterránea - Mixed Community in Badajoz José Antonio Rosa
L’Hermitage - Youth at Risk Br. Miquel Cubeles
Melanesia - Mabiri Vocational Education Program: Bouganville Benedict Tooming
Ad Gentes - The FMS Project Br. Luís G. Sobrado
BIS-NGO - Promotion and Defense of the Rights of the Child Br. César Henríquez

The selection was made so that there would be two from each continent and two from the General Administration. The Sydney presentation on WYD was substituted for Nigeria’s since they were unable to arrive on time.

These experiences are not the result of any contest or competition, but something that can shed some natural light and can aid in the reflection on the future that God wants for Marists. Some make reference to lifestyles, others highlight means of action, social projection or solidarity; there are those in the missionary, university or community context. All in all, a rich variety.

In the afternoon Brother Pedro Herreros set the theme for the Eucharist saying: “From nine o’clock this morning we have not seen each other all together until this moment. During the day, every half hour, we have been left to consider what we heard and what we lived.”

An Open Forum to Listen to the Heartbeats of the Assembly

The day concluded with an open forum in which everyone could share with the others their ideas and feelings. What has been placed in common will be brought before the altar as an offering.

On the front wall of the room there is a large mural with a heart in the center. Since arriving the participants have been placing on this heart sentences, signs, expressions, and drawings that they gathered from the personal and group reflections. Yesterday they listened to the youth of our world; today the attention has been focused toward the Institute and its achievements, trying to discover the essences of identity and mission. A great number of people are surprised at what was expressed in the previous forum and the Mass and at the passion with which it was done.

Fine-tuning from the Brothers and Laity on Charism and Mission

Some testimony:

“Our charism is summed up in being brother or sister for the neediest and it is expressed in proximate compassion. This is what the children need. This offers many opportunities for our life.”

“I feel the Marist charism as a call that unwraps me from my own reality and is concretized in the poor children that come to my school with whom I work as sons and daughters of God.”

“We analyzed, worked and learned structured and organized answers but in the day to day experience we gave answers, not as organized or not as rushed, in living life. The dimension is very large and the contexts very distinct.”

“In the reflections that we made today we perceived that during these days the diversity is a great richness.”

“To feel as participating in the Marist charism has to be coherent with the Gospel of Jesus. The charism asks of us courage, audacity, but above all love, great love of those who are closest to us and who wait for an answer.”

“In this Assembly one feels a great need for answers in our provinces. I come searching for answers in everything. But what I’m listening to in the Assembly are many questions. Our charism is a challenge and this challenge is summed up in some key words: real, strong and intense presence among the children, the young people and their families; community of brothers and laity, with a strong experience of spirituality, of fraternity, with a lot of tenderness and care for the other.”

“Champagnat was not afraid to confront an inspiration that came from the Spirit and it caused him to do something for others. We, laity and brothers, who must continue the mission of Champagnat, must look especially from the heart to the neediest, to the poor, in order to be faithful to his charism.”

The Climate of the Assembly Warms Up

There are a lot of expectations in the provinces. Everyone is waiting for something new from this meeting. The laity who participate as delegates in the Assembly feel the responsibility of their representation. More and more the communal sense of mission is accentuated among the members of the Assembly. The lived experience up to this moment has made not only the small groups feel a sense of community but also the full Assembly. Someone commented: “I felt that the people have spirit and prophecy, that is, that what is said comes from a spirit of faith.” Another person commented: “The energy that drives the Assembly is in the mysticism and prophecy that we share.”

The presence of the Spirit is perceived in the way the members of the Assembly speak of their vocation from an interior spirituality. The words that resonate are audacity and risk. They speak again of new presences. The Assembly is prepared, its work begins now.

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