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Interview with Br Hipólito Pérez

21/08/2013: Guatemala

The International Commission Brothers Today met in Rome from 4 to 11 July. On this occasion, we spoke with some of its members. We present today a conversation with Br Hipólito Pérez, Provincial of the Province of Central America.

Tell us about yourself

I am based in Guatemala, although my current mission of accompanying the brothers and communities implies an itinerant lifestyle, visiting and sharing with the 22 communities we currently have in the Province of Central America across its six countries (Costa Rica, Cuba, El Salvador, Guatemala, Nicaragua and Puerto Rico).

What does it mean for you to be a brother today?

Personally, I have to say it is difficult to put into words what I live and the option I renew on a daily basis, sometimes full of awareness and passion, and some others in an ordinary way.

What I can actually say is that over the years, as I embrace life itself, with its lights and shadows, joys and hopes, I feel lucky with who I am, and with the life I’m living.

I’m happy to give my life in this simple and fraternal Marist mission entrusted to me, walking together with others in this desire to turn the world into a more humane and just place, living in community, seeking God in what I live, and also when I’m alone with Him.

Is vocations ministry an important mission for the Institute? How should it be carried out?

I don’t have much experience, in theory or practice, regarding vocations ministry, but with the input of what I’m perceiving and experiencing, I can share some convictions that have taken shape in me.

-       Vocations ministry – as well as our human and Christian vocation – is part of the Mystery of God, and it’s difficult to find logical explanations. Our ways are often different from God’s ways.

-       I think vocations ministry has to emerge naturally from the contact between young people and the brothers, who share their story and vocational experience.

For our part, we have the possibility and responsibility to facilitate this contact through experiences of youth ministry, accompaniment, or simply by spending time together; and more systematically, by opening the doors of our communities so that young people can get to know us from the inside, that is, by implementing vocational communities which can offer rich spaces to meet, internalize, and deepen spirituality, and also through meaningful solidarity experiences to challenge and forge young people.

-       I believe the vocational question is now emerging at older ages, so vocations ministry should fundamentally work with college students, with young adults who have experienced some kind of faith process.

-       Until now young people have come to us. We must invert this process with audacity, and go out to search for them, inside and outside our institutions, boldly and fearlessly presenting them with the vocational invitation.

Almost 200 years have gone by since the Institute was founded: what are the challenges for the brothers today? Are the challenges Marcellin faced still valid?

In my opinion, living in the present with joy, hope, and a spirit of communion is now an important issue and a fundamental challenge for the brothers.

The other day I found this expression: “Let’s take off the sackcloth of discouragement”. We should live out our vocation and our life as brothers with stamina, enthusiasm, and not burden ourselves with this doom and gloom which hinders us from “seeing the sun”. For me this is the first step towards the personal conversion the General Chapter invites us to undertake.

The other challenges are quite clearly contained in the second horizon to the future which the General Chapter is inviting us to receive and live: a new consecrated life which promotes a new way of being brother.

What particular experiences are the brothers in your region living which could be a model for the Institute?

There is an experience of vitality in my Province and region which has to do with the General Chapter’s intuition to acknowledge the lay Marist vocation. Accompanying and taking care of this lay vocations upsurge is being a source of life and renewal within the provinces. The laity want to live their vocation fully, in the different areas through which they have approached the Marist charism: mission, spirituality, solidarity, fraternity, etc.

This is compelling us to include shared life experiences in our communities, and to implement a process of accompaniment and vocational discernment.

The other area in which practically all the provinces in the region are moving is that of revitalization-reorganization. The new situation in our Marist region is leading us to propose a process of reorganization of the communities and their mission, which may guarantee the life and vitality of the Marist charism. Such process is not easy: it involves losses, displacement, and there are no magic formulas to reach the expected results. It implies venturing into the unknown, and experiencing the uncertainty of walking in the dark, always knowing that the Lord is a God Life who comes along with us on this pilgrimage.

_____________________________

Hipólito Pérez FMS

Marist Province of Central America

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