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Ad gentes and the pastoral agents

Cmi

17/11/2010: Brazil

Taking advantage of the presence of the Coordinator of Ad Gentes in our city, Curitiba, we held a meeting on October 25, 2010 to speak about the Mission Ad Gentes Project.Someone asked of the Mission Ad Gentes project is in crisis, and the coordinator quite frankly answered that it isn’t. It is true that this is a moment for evaluation and we are able to state that with Group 7 from Davao, who are just being sent to their missions, a phase of great importance since the launching of the project, the first priority remains the same: at this time we are living in the expansion phase. We are now entering into the consolidation phase from what has been planted until now. Using a prayer poem which opened this day, the coordinator said that there was no reason to be pessimistic about the project. The reality of the present moment must guide our steps. The prayer poem is a song by Nana Mouskouri entitled “Wounded Seagull”. Because far from the hurts and disenchantments of the past is the “hoped for reality” which must we must keep alive in our dreams for Project AG.From the prayer poem, all oriented toward the future, four stanzas have been underlined. In a poetic and symbolic manner, it could be a song of hope which sinks its roots in what has already been fulfilled in AG, but that wants to express itself in the future in leafy branches, like a tree which opens itself to life. The stanzas are: Wounded Seagull Don’t bury all your dreams In the sand. I know that one morning Life will come To call at your door Don’t dismiss her Awaken the hope That is asleep And knock on my window My friend. And I will cease a pain Hidden among the rocks So you follow your course To the birth of a new life.It could be that the Project AG has still not reached the amount of people we are dreaming of. But we have to praise the Lord for the 51 Brothers already at work there. They are the departure point for many dreams; they are the assurance of the Marist life planted in many Asian countries; they are the calm but decisive call that declares that there is hope; they are the call to still follow the road that others opened with a greater boldness which is the path we are actually walking now. We are called to deliver to those who will come, a project even more firm, more complete and even stronger. Everything points to this, without forgetting that it can be even greater. There will always be more to do.We went through the day, looking at the heroes of Group VII who have just parted for their mission. All the groups made and are making history, this one in a special way perhaps because it includes the first laypersons (4 women and one man), among them a married couple. A pamphlet with their testimonies was distributed. What lessons does it give us? What clear and solid teaching do they leave us to sustain our hope?• They speak to us about the experience of God which guides their roads to mission AG;• They speak to us about their absolute availability to follow Jesus’ plan for them;• They speak to us about Mission AG as a grace and of their calm and passion for Marcellin;• They speak to us, with thanksgiving, about the capacity of freely loving others which God gives to them;• They speak to us about the importance of human relationships, without forgetting the Divine breath which animates them;• They speak of us about going in haste, with Mary, to their mission in order to plant and build the Marist life there;• They speak to us of their love for our Marist spirituality and of the feeling of having Jesus by their side;• They speak to us about the worries they have about serving the most needy;• They speak to us about their desire to be missionaries, not exactly for the poor, but for Our Lord Jesus who we encounter in the poor;• They speak to us about how the Holy Spirit guides them and helps them respond to the mission which is confided to them;• They speak to us about the value of the family in their missionary vocation: from the cradle of their families they were “fed” the milk of gratitude and generosity.Are there reasons for us to “bury our dreams in the sand” after hearing this missionary anthology so rich and so meaningful? NO. Companions of the “wounded seagull” will be able to say with grateful hearts: I will extend my arms Over the waves My eyes will be filled With your happiness Which I once again Return to life.Toward the end of the session, Rosana, from the Province of Brazil Centro Sur, who participated in the formation program in the Philippines, shared with the group her experience of immersion in an indigenous village. Even though her experience was limited, it revealed to her that there are elements of both happiness and suffering at the same time that all missionaries will experience in their life of oblation. Daily sacrifices will be without limits. To the surprise and admiration of all she continued by saying:• The missionary will eventually experience real hunger; bedtime companions may be spiders and other bugs;• The missionary must be able to say good-by to many old comforts: there may not always be water to bathe with; or transportation after a full day of work, there may be just two tired feet;• The missionary will accept the realities of being incapable of communicating to people in their own language; of humbly accepting the help of others; of being so self-sufficient to learning to be interdependent;• The missionary must strip herself of her culture in order to embrace a culture so different that she will never fully understand it; to be able to continually live in a situation demanding humility; • The missionary, especially in Asia, must accept living in a situation of poverty, that is, the reality that Christianity is a minority and on this continent there are other ancient religious traditions;• The missionary must arrive in Asia as a collaborator and not as a “lord”; the strength of the mission resides in evangelical presence even though results may be scarce or even invisible.• The missionary, above all, is invited to combat the temptation of living a sort of “bourgeois” or comfortable life-style; only through the Gospel and by prayer will the strength to face this material poverty lead one to be truly grateful for working with others. True material poverty may lead one to a rich spirituality. This day to day depiction of the life of a missionary is very useful. Br. Joaquin, vice-provincial, ended the session by making a call to all present and future youngsters, he urged them to be open to this kind of experience. These are the experiences that will strengthen our pastoral and missionary life; they are more formative than many sermons. They form us, just as some of our own daily experiences have, they may be the backdrop for a missionary life already lived or that we wish to live. And he left a formal invitation for all to become propagators of the Mission AG Project in those places where they live out their own mission._____________Rosana Alves – Pastoral DelegateBro. Teofilo – International Director for Missionary CommunicationsOctober 28, 2010, Curitiba

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