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The Assembly focuses on five points emerging from the reflection

14/09/2007: Brazil

The 10th of September proved to be a very demanding day, although truly satisfying. After dinner a number of the members of the assembly again gathered in small groups with a facilitator to put the finishing touches to the day’s work. After a break at Rio de Janeiro the organising commission put forward a practical rhythm of work. The earlier elaboration of the mandala had been of great use in helping everyone greater mutual understanding and communication.

Five fundamental pillars
The Commission table five major points that had been repeated time and time again in interventions during the preceding days: 1) Spirituality and conversion. 2) New relationships between the brothers and lay people. 3) Education for all. 4) Defending the rights of children and young people. 5) The evangelisation of children and young people.

There was a change from earlier days in the method of reporting. Today, all of the participants had the opportunity to express in writing their ideas and feelings on these five subjects. In five separate rooms the walls were covered with paper on which everyone could write reactions to each subject, and these were put together immediately by two secretaries.

After that the work was taken up in the language groups. Each of the subjects proposed was assigned to two groups of different languages for them to make separate syntheses of the material from the walls, and then to establish a common text together. All of this material was submitted to a vote by the general assembly. Everyone had a small piece of paper on which indication was given either of agreement or disagreement in a general way with the propositions, and to suggest freely and immediately any observations on the text. From the very beginning the work had been carried out using the mandala format.

Some indications of the progress made
For the moment, the Assembly approved of two points in general, without these becoming definitive documents. The declaration proposed by the group that had studied the subject of education was: “Education for all: a right”. More comprehensively, the message was: We believe that God is calling us at this time to an enhanced gospel-based education for all. For that to happen, we need a profound conversion of heart to live fervently the Marist virtues of humility, simplicity, modesty and a presence among the children and young people of today.

The group chose not to repeat things that had already been written in the official document of the Institute, The Marist Educational Mission, putting its accent rather on “an education coming to grips with solidarity and social transformation, and an education that makes room for those who do not have access to it.”

This objective is to be achieved by an “evaluation of works” in order to complete “the process already begun throughout the whole Institute, of the evangelical use of goods”, in such a way that “all persons and all works be of one heart with the poor”. And this has to be realised by means of “prophetic gestures” of brothers and lay people prepared to go to the most difficult places where no one else is willing to go. There is mention here, too, of “promoting inter-cultural dialogue.”

The groups that worked on the defence of the rights of children presented a proposition that issued an invitation “to develop a culture of recognition, denunciation, defence and promotion of the rights of children and young people”. It points to the need to bring up to date the question of “social justice in relation to employment in our works at the same time as we defend the rights of children”, having effect in the same way in “Marist networks and with other institutions, promoting a culture of the rights of children.

The three other subjects remain for tomorrow, and more about what the Assembly considers to be “the core” and “the heart” of Marist mission.

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