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Signs of a changing model

 

Ad Gentes: the experience of internationalism

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18/09/2010: Philippines

I am in Davao, a city of the province of Mindanao, in the Southern Philippines… One can see the shoots springing up from the effort undertaken more than ten years ago to make possible, once more, Champagnat’s dream: to be sowers of hope in all the dioceses of the world. To make brotherhood a world reality: brother to everyone.It is supper time and I am realizing the human richness of the internationalism in which I am at present living. Pepito is a Filipino Brother who accompanies the new postulants of the Sector, but the other members of the community are all, or almost all, from different countries. The new postulants have just arrived, two young men from Cambodia, accompanied by the master of postulants, and their formator, Diego, from Colombia. A young man has come from a neighbouring country, accompanied by Michael, a New Zealand Brother who is working in Saigon. Gilbert is an African Brother, from Ghana; for the moment, he is collaborating in material affirs and in preparing the meals. Eight brothers and seven nationalities.At the moment, and without warning, some members of the formation team preparing the future lay people and Brothers, who have answered the call to work in the missions, turn up: they are Brothers Antoine, from Rwanda, Santos, from Ecuador, Teófilo, from Portugal, and Hilario, from Argentina. My surprise is mixed with admiration at finding myself with people of 12 nationalities… What richness and what a real sign that something new is coming to birth! It is no longer a matter of an internationalism brought about by two countires working together or of one Brother who gives his life in a country different from that of his birth… it is a global movement which is in process of growing and transforming our ways of living and thinking. What will be the implications?Yesterday evening, I was struck by a new sign of this changing model. We invited the members of the Marist Family for the blessing of the new house: Brothers, Fathers, Marist Sisters and Marist Missionary Sisters. But the list did not stop there. There were also the lay people who have joined Mission ad gentes and who next month complete their formation to go out to the new mission fields of this Sector. And the internationalism grows: Brothers from Spain and Korea join lay people from Brasil, Malaysia and the Philippines. A Korean couple are also part of this group. In his homily, the celebrant, Larry, invited us with vivacity and passion to reflect on four words which, according to him, summarised the Gospel of the day: chosen, creative, bold and faithful. He was not simply addressing the new postulants; each of us understood that he was, today, called and chosen. And these words invited us to creativity in a world where it is easier to « make one’s nest», to continue to live in passivity, in the shelter of what we have always done, since that gives us a certain security and spares us risk, failure or criticism. And he also invited us to be bold so that Champagnat’s dream may continue to keep on growing.At the end of his homily, he told us: « Be faithful to the heritage of our Brothers. Numerous Brothers have given their lives, day after day, like Mary and Champagnat; it is a tradition among us! » The liturgy continued at the table of brotherhood. The conversations intermingled, each expressing his ardent wish to arrive at his new mission place: such and such at Bangkok, another in India, others in a country neighbouring Cambodia. Hopes and fears, joys and sufferings, light and shadows. A new day appears on the horizon and the words of Br. Basilio Rueda resonate in my heart: « We must help the dawn come to birth ».___________________Br. Hoan Castro

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