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Marist Bulletin - Number 329

 

One heart one mission - Marist International Mission Assembly
14/02/2008

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The Preparatory Commission and the General Council make an assessment of the event

On Saturday 12th and Sunday 13th January 2008, the preparatory Commission implementing the Marist International Mission Assembly gathered in order to draft a report for the General Council. On Monday 14th, the two bodies worked together the whole day long.

The goal of the Commission was to make an assessment of the process, both at local level, with the Provincial and Regional Assemblies, and at an international level, with the Assembly that gathered at Mendes. The Commission was also to present some suggestions to the General Council concerning the follow-up to the themes that were discussed and to the initiatives that came up.

With regard to the objectives set for the Assembly, the Commission and the General Council deemed that they were fully achieved. The Assembly proved an experience of international approach at all levels of the Institute. One of the aspects that were stressed the most was the discovery of a sense of belonging to an international Institute. This approach was important and it will be even more so in the future. For some, the event was the opportunity to initiate a path of conversion; for others, it was a chance to renew one’s personal commitment and strengthen one’s passion for the Marist mission. Many people said that the Holy Spirit was truly present during the entire process. The Assembly highlighted the issue of co-responsibility: brothers and laypeople were involved at the same level. And it was a chance to go deeper into the understanding of the Marist vocation of brothers and laypeople, though it will be necessary to continue examining this theme in the future.

With regard to the development of the process, that involved local stages, provincial and regional, that flowed into the meeting at Mendes, it was underlined that the choice was proven correct, and that for many provinces and regions it was indeed a valuable instrument. The material produced in order to assist the preparatory process was also deemed of great use. The assessment given by all the participants in Mendes before the end of the meeting was extremely positive and completely satisfying.

The Commission did underline also some weaker points that were written down so as to offer them as an aid to those concerned if in the future it were decided to renew such an experience.

During the meeting of the Commission with the General Council, an element that was strongly stressed was that in the final document of Mendes one could perceive the voice of God addressing several appeals to the Institute, which are actually a challenge to our responsibility today.

The Council received a few suggestions from the Commission and it will devise ways to follow-up the Assembly and bear this event of the Spirit into the life of the Institute in the year to come. Some initiatives shall be implemented as soon as possible.

At the end of the meeting, Brother Sean Sammon, the Superior General, thanked each of the participants for the wonderful collaboration, for the great efforts made and the extraordinary sense of team work established, which allowed the work to be done well. During his speech the Brother Superior General insisted on the fact that two highly significant recent events have characterised in one way or another recent history of the Marists: the Assembly of Mendes and the beatification of our martyr Brothers.

The participants in the evaluation were: Bro. Alphonse Balombe (D. R. of the Congo); Chema Pérez Soba (Spain), Dilma Alves Rodrigues (Brazil), Erica Pegorer (Australia), Bro. Juan Miguel Anaya (General Administration), Bro. Pau Fornells (General Administration), Bro. Pedro Herreros (General Administration), and Bro. Emili Turú (General Administration). Bro. John Y Tan (Philipines) was not able to attend the meeting, as he was ill in those days.

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Interview with Dilma Alves Rodrigues, member of the preparatory Commission of the International Assembly of Marist Mission.

Dilma Alves Rodrigues - works in the social area of the Province of Brasil Centro Norte and she was a member of the organizing Commission of the International Assembly of the Marist Mission. She is one of two women who took part in the preparations for the Assembly and one of people in charge of coordinating the work carried out in Mendes. During a short break, after coffee, we had a conversation with her.

AMEstaún. What was your personal experience in the course of the Assembly?
Dilma Alves.
As a participant in the Assembly, I see the meeting as a divine gift, a grace received, since we were generating a new moment in the Institute. Everything happened with a lot of joy and fraternity. It was a group very open to the calls of God, to the inspiration of the Spirit to build something together, going beyond our own points of view, and including personal convictions, to be integrated in the common movement that I believe is a new Pentecost in the Marist Institute.

You participated in the preparation of the meeting and you probably had great expectations in connection with the Assembly. Were those expectations fulfilled?
The meeting, certainly, fulfilled my expectations. I hoped we would go away from it with something very significant and revealing for the Institute. But the spirit with which everything was lived, and the vision that all of the participants carried on their way to Mendes, greatly surpassed my expectations. There were things that they consolidated there, and there was also a great call that many of the convictions that we already have were really present in our daily personal and community life, as well as in the educational, social and pastoral works.

Regarding the future, what paths do you think are opening up starting from the Assembly?
Those who took part in the Assembly, as well as those who were at home, each one inside their own reality, will walk in a new way, opening new horizons. We will make a path as we advance. Everyone, listening to the call of the Assembly, will find a way to give meaning to what happened in Mendes.

The Assembly had Brothers and lay people. The lay word was heard a lot. How was the womans presence in the Assembly?
The women, who were present, received a special call from God. They were less in number, but they had a strong will to take part, and they contributed in a significant way and with a lot of sensibility to the success of the Assembly.

Does the final document pick up all that was said in the meeting? Do you believe that it is a good synthesis?
Yes, I believe so. There were even times when the groups that worked on each topic went beyond their own convictions and wishes to give space to what the Assembly judged to be more important. Perhaps some people have left Mendes rather less satisfied with the document than I did, but certainly it reflects what the Assembly wanted to communicate.

Mary and Marcellin were very much present during the Assembly. How did you see that presence?
Every day, in the morning, we attempted to embody Mary’s spirit, her caring spirit, her maternal spirit, and we remembered that we were there to follow the dream of Saint Marcellin Champagnat. That was the great call.

The house of Mendes itself, the place, did it have something special to offer the meeting?
Most certainly. Brother Claudino, provincial of Brasil Centro-Norte, made a great impression on us when he said that we were standing on sacred ground. The great meaning that Mendes has for the Marists of Brasil influenced us in a very interesting way. Certainly it encouraged us and gave us a new spirit.

What impression do you have of the work of the preparatory Commission? Hows did you feel being part of the team?
I have taken part in diverse commissions throughout my life, inside and outside the Marist world. This was, perhaps, the most significant, being an international commission. We were diverse in our way of thinking and of doing things, and everything worked with wonderful integration. Now that we have finished, I am nostalgic for the group.

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