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Marist Mission Ad Gentes - Orientation Programme in Davao

Cmi

14/07/2006: Philippines

‘Our Institute, like the Church, is missionary, and we must have the heart of a missionary, as did Father Champagnat, who exclaimed: “All the Dioceses in the world enter into our designs.”(Const 90)
On August 7th, seventeen of our brothers will be gathering in Davao and joining the team of Alfredo, Roy and Tim, to begin the first ‘Mission Ad Gentes Orientation Programme.’ This programme will run for four months, finishing on December 15th. In 2007, there will be two further programmes of five months each, with another two programmes in 2008. Each of these programmes in 2007 and 2008 will run from January 15th to June 15th and July 15th to December 15th.

The programme will be located at the ‘Retreat House’ of the Sisters of Charity of Saint Charles Borremeo. We are occupying one of four buildings (26 rooms) at their retreat center. sharing a common dining room with other groups who come here for retreats. The other groups who use the other buildings on the property are mainly High School and College groups. The retreat house is situated in the middle of a busy and alive part of Davao city, with a lot of activity and people surrounding us. With the people and activity outside the main gate and with the students on retreat inside the gate, we will face a daily reminder of the reason we are here!

The question that might be asked by some people is, “Why?” Why provide this time, this programme, and this opportunity? Why provide the finances associated with establishing this programme for our brothers if they already have the generosity, the desire and the commitment to give of themselves in mission ad gentes? Why not simply send them directly to their place of mission to begin local language studies? Why not send them directly to their mission, now? The answer is simple! We care for our brothers and, as brothers, we take seriously, the desire to discern the Lord’s call in our life. We not only have a passion for the mission entrusted to us but we also have a duty to prepare well for this mission which begins firstly, in listening to the direction that God is calling and to seek confirmation of the genuineness of this call.

Goals of the program
‘The brothers whom the Lord sends out to spread the Good News as missionaries must prepare themselves carefully for their task.’ *Const 91)

The programme in Davao has a central aim of promoting a passion for the mission of Jesus and to discern one’s ability to participate in mission ad gentes.

We would hope to move towards reaching this aim by focusing clearly on five main objectives:
1. To grow in one’s spirituality for mission ad gentes by continuing to develop a deeply personal relationship with Jesus and by exploring ways of making Jesus and Mary known and loved in a new cultural milieu by a passionate living of Champagnat’s spirituality.
2. To grow in one’s ability to live in an inter-cultural and international Marist missionary community by discovering, appreciating and affirming cultural diversity and through developing skills for inter-cultural communication and relationships.
3. To grow in one’s relationship with oneself in a new cultural milieu through an increasing capacity to learn, a humble acceptance of one’s limitations and powerlessness and through a healthy development of friendships.
4. To develop an awareness and sensitivity to Marist mission and solidarity.
5. To develop a sensitivity and appreciation of Asian cultures, religions and the local churches.

The program itself
The orientation programme in Davao will focus around twelve workshops as a means of responding to the central aim of the programme and its five objectives. These workshops will be facilitated by a variety of people including our own brothers within the Institute as well as priests, religious and laypeople within Asia and the Philippines. A number of these facilitators have a wide experience of missionary work within the church of Asia.
1. Spirituality for mission.
2. Champagnat and his mission.
3. Cultural diversity.
4. Skills for intercultural communication and relationships.
5. Tools for community building.
6. Personal health care in an Asian setting.
7. Developing healthy relationships in an international and multicultural setting.
8. Asian Church: Identity and Mission.
9. Marist mission in Asia and other regions.
10. Introduction to the spirituality of the main Asian religions.
11. Introduction to the history and culture of Asian countries and region.
12. Introduction to the historical development and future directions of the local church in Asia.

An important aspect of the discernment process within the programme will be the opportunity to be exposed to various aspects of life and mission in a setting that maybe new for our brothers but a setting which will be similar to where their future mission and community life will be found. To also provide the space, environment and support to reflect upon these experiences and to listen to how God is calling through these. An integral part of the programme will be the following components:
• A weekly ‘exposure period’ with groups working with disadvantaged youth.
• A “10 day Immersion Experience” with a local family in a rural setting.
• A period of community living and ministry exposure with the branches of the Marist Family.
• A time of ‘Retreat’ concluding with a missioning liturgy.

Some of the processes we will use to accomplish the goals of the program include:
Individual Accompaniment
Life Groups
Community Meetings
Journal Writing
Desert Days
Individual reading and research
Integration days and week
Group and Individual presentations.

Preparation as missionaries
In an endeavour to respond to the invitation contained in article 90 of our Constitutions, where a clear directive is stated that we “must prepare our brothers carefully for their task as missionaries,” the programme aims to provide:

A time of Discernment for each brother to reflect upon how the workshops and experiences of the programme are impacting upon him personally and through a prayerful listening and personal accompaniment, seek clarity and confirmation of the Lord’s call to future involvement in mission ad gentes.

A time of Orientation to a new cultural milieu with an exposure to new cultures, customs and religious beliefs and to reflect upon the impact these will have upon his future life and mission and to acknowledge the skills he will need to continue to develop in order to integrate into a new cultural environment.

A time of Preparation for future community life and mission in a new cultural setting through the experience of living with brothers of different cultural backgrounds, customs and values. Continuing to develop the skills needed to live in international and multicultural missionary communities.

“God chooses individual men and women and calls each by name. He leads them into the desert and there speaks to their hearts. Those who heed Him, he sets apart. By His Spirit, he transforms them constantly, leading them more deeply into His love in order to send them out on mission.” (Const 11)

First group in Davao
The following Brothers make up the first group entering into this discernment process in Davao:
Francis Attah - Ghana - Mediterránea
Patrick Betkou - Madagascar - Madagascar
Gerard Brereton - USA - USA
Marti Enrich - Spain - L’Hermitage
Ewald Frank - Germany - West Central Europe
Paul Hough - Australia - Sydney
Brian Kinsella - Australia - Melbourne
Teofilo Minga - Portugal - Compostela
Anthony Njolovi - Malawi - Southern Africa
Clement Nwadike - Nigeria - Nigeria
Mark Poro - Solomon Islands - District of Melanesia
Hugo Rivera - Mexico - México Occidental
Felix Roldan - Peru - Santa Maria de los Andes
Miguel Angel Sancha - Spain - Ibérica
Hilario Schwab - Argentina - Cruz del Sur
Bernhard Tremmel - Germany - West Central Europe
George Valle - Philippines - Philippines

For a short biography of each of these brothers, as well as the Orientation Team in Davao, visit our website: in the Ad Gentes area.

Other ad gentes missionaries
Bro. Mick Sexton (Melbourne) is preparing to go to Algeria.
Bro. Evaristus Kasambwe (Malawi) has been in Haiti for a number of months now.
Bro Stanislas Ngombwa (Rwanda) is preparing to also go to Haiti.
Bro. Patxi Espinosa (Venezuela) is planning to go to Cuba.
Bro. Samuel Eathorn (New Zealand) is preparing to go to Ghana.

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