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The human and spiritual quality of these Marists has impressed me



Br Emili Turú, Superior General, organises encounter with ‘Blue Marists’

11/09/2015: Lebanon - Photo gallery

Brother Emili Turú was in Lebanon from Aug. 29 – Sept. 5 to accompany a group of 18 Brothers and laity of Aleppo, Syria, known as the ‘Blue Marists.’


Why did this encounter with a group of Blue Marists take place?

Br Emili: Last May I met with the three Brothers of the community of Aleppo and I noticed that, even though they were all right, they were enduring enormous stress caused by the war they have been experiencing for over four years, and that it was appropriate to show them support in some way. 

At that time, I proposed them to do some activity to help them cope with the situation, not only for themselves, but also for others who are part of the Blue Marists. 


How was the two-day programme carried out? 

Br Emili: Thanks to the support of Br Brendan Geary, provincial of West Central Europe, we contacted Dr

Robert Wicks, from the United States – world authority on the topic of resilience, who promptly and generously agreed to collaborate with us. In a surprisingly easy way, Dr Wicks, the Blue Marists, Br Juan Carlos Fuertes (who will start as provincial of Mediterranean in Jan. 2016) and I were able to make our agendas coincide. 

From that point, we jointly decided on the programme: the first day was on spirituality, prepared by me, and then another three days with Dr Wicks on resilience. The two remaining days were spent evaluating the programmes that are being carried out and programming the future.


What spiritual contents did they work with you?

 Br Emili: The question of God usually emerges strongly when one experiences extreme situations, such as those caused by a war.

And what emerges in these moments are often our preconceptions about God, that do not always correspond to the God of Jesus Christ. We ask ourselves ‘where is God in this situation of war?’ and the truth is that the maturity and the quality of answers by the participants in the encounter impressed me.

Another topic we reflected on and shared was about contemplative prayer as an excellent means to have a personal encounter with God, as well as a source of peace, serenity and harmony, even when bombs are falling around us.  


Can you tell us something on the topic of resilience?

Br Emili: Wars cause a huge amount of stress in people due to many factors, which include the death of people who are close to you, or the uncertainty of the immediate or long-term future, or the sudden experience of significant losses, like work or one’s home… Our Marists from Aleppo, by placing themselves at the service of the victims of war, live twice the amount of stress: their own and of those people they assist, who are sometimes very wounded and perhaps disproportionate expectations of what can be offered to them.

Unfortunately, ending the war or the huge difficulties that the residents of Aleppo go through is not in our hands, but to change the perspective or transform one’s own attitudes before these situations is. And that is where resilience comes in; a capability that not only allows one to overcome the difficulties of life that we cannot change, but also to learn from them, to grow and to mature in the midst of them. The vast experience of Dr Wicks on this subject allowed, firstly, that each person could give a name to what they are inwardly living, which is often unconscious.

Of course, this awareness is not enough, so he also offered a big amount of resources to be able to increase resilience and to help other people to do it, too.  


How has your personal experience been these days?

Br Emili: They have been very intense days, not only because of the deep reflection that has been carried out, but also rather mostly because of the enormous emotional burden involved.

We did not talk of a country at war in an abstract way, but of people of flesh and blood, the bystanders, who face it daily.

It has been a privilege for me to be able to share with all of them and listen to their personal stories, their dreams, their battles, their frustrations, their pain, their huge desire to live a life that has meaning…

The human and spiritual quality of these Marists, as well as the depth of the motivations of those who being able to leave the country have decided to stay with their sisters and brothers of Aleppo, has impressed me.

Some of them told me that my messages that they have received over the last four years have been very supportive, but the truth is that I am the one who has learned from them, encouraged by their generosity and by their evangelical creativity.

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