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The Marist International Mission Assembly is set in motion

28/03/2006: General House

The 1st Marist International Mission Assembly has been set in motion on the five continents. This Assembly, whose celebration responds to the wishes expressed by the members of the 20th General Chapter, hopes to be the expression of “a new stage in the life of the Marist Institute, which offers the brothers and laypeople the opportunity to reflect together, on equal terms, concerning the mission of the Institute at the present time and in the future, as well as on their own identity” as has been outlined by the Assembly’s Preparatory Commission.

The celebration of the Assembly in Brazil in 2007 will be an important moment, but the whole process, which at the present moment has started, can also be an excellent opportunity to promote the life and mission in all the Provinces and Districts, each in its own situation and with its own characteristics.

We have received reports here in Rome from many places about the steps that have already been taken. Even though the information will be incomplete, we feel it is important to share it with you, with a double objective: to share ideas and initiatives from various Provinces that can help others as well as animate all to share what has been produced in their own Administrative Unit.

In the area of the Pacific (nine countries) “The International Conference Committee of Oceania” was created one year ago, to coordinate and support with great creativity and competence the activities in the various regions of the zone. They have nearly finished the local phase in a number of places. One characteristic of the region is the geographical distance and the difficulties in commu-nication with several Marist works, particularly in the Pacific islands. They are taking interesting initiatives so that all can participate in the process. For example, last November various seminars were held in Samoa and they took the initiative of sending us some photos of their meetings. At the present time, the Committee for Oceania is assessing the possibility of combining the celebration of Provincial meetings with a possible regional phase adapted to its peculiarities.

The Province of Nigeria has appointed a Commission, with three brothers and three laypeople, who met last January to adapt the materials sent from Rome and to animate the work of the local groups. They decided to treat some of the preparation themes in one Provincial meeting that was programmed beforehand. We have received notices from groups of Marist lay associates who were very emotionally moved to have been contacted by them and they are very interested in the process.
The Province of the Philippines has organised a Mission Congress for the coming month of April, of three days duration, with the participation of brothers and laypeople, coming from schools as well as non-school works. During the Congress they will select the future participants in the meet-ing at Mendes. The materials sent from Rome will be distributed to the community Superiors and Directors of educational works, including both schools and other works of the Province.

The District Superior of West Africa (six countries) is organising the formation of local groups in the various works of the District. For this occasion, he has sent the material of the preparatory phase to the local Directors. However, several countries encountered difficulties because the District is very large and because in several of these countries the brothers do not have works that belong to them.

The Province of América Central (five countries) started the local phase by distributing the prepara-tory material during the meetings of national education commissions (for the administrative Councils of centres) and planning workshops (for pastoral teams). The administrative Councils are look-ing after the animation of this phase in their centre. The nineteen fraternities of the Province’s Champagnat Movement are involved in the process. They plan to finish the local phase before the 30th July.

The Province of Compostela (two countries) started the local phase towards the middle of January. Three hundred people are participating in it and they represent twenty-six work groups. They have organised a Provincial Assembly from the 7th to the 9th September.

We have received news from Venezuela, from the Province of Norandina (three countries). The process was explained in November last year and the idea has been well received. The slogan of the Champagnat Festival, which will take place at Caracas this year, is the same as that of the Assem-bly, and they want to treat common themes in the local groups. They are presently thinking about the organisation of the Provincial phase.

The Province of México Occidental has appointed a group co-ordinator and has presented the process to all the directors of educational works during a Provincial symposium in January. It was de-cided to divide the works of the Province into six regions, choosing co-ordinators of the process in each of the regions.

The Province of Ibérica (Spain) has created a work group to co-ordinate the process. The Brother Provincial made a presentation in the brothers’ communities and various Provincial commissions have done similarly in the educational communities, the Fraternities of the Champagnat Movement, associations and groups of parents of students, and groups of volunteers and catechists. At the pre-sent moment, fifty-two groups are constituted, with a total of five hundred people involved. A Provincial meeting is planned from the 1st to the 3rd September.

In the Province of L’Hermitage (six countries) the animation is assured by the Mission Commis-sion, which appointed coordinators for each sector: Algeria, Catalonia, France-Switzerland, Greece and Hungary. Each sector has its own rhythm and calendar, knowing that in July 2006 an evaluation of the process will be made and the contributions from each sector will be gathered for the Provincial Chapter (3rd to the 8th August). The local phase will be able to be prolonged until December, so that a Provincial Assembly can be organised at the Hermitage from the 3rd to the 5th January.

The Mission Team in Europe has suggested having a European meeting in July 2007, as the first stage in the celebration of the international Assembly. This idea would need to be concretised in May 2007.

Finally, we would like to mention the special participation of the General Administration in the preparation of the Assembly. As the General House is ‘extra-territorial’, the majority of brothers and laypeople who work here have found a process adapted to their reality. They are following the stages established for the different meetings and they will be asked to send some representatives to the European meeting.

We hope to be able to send a second communication soon with more news from the Provinces. Meanwhile, we want to encourage you all, by reminding you of Seán’s words: “I ask you to join with me in prayer and by preparing for this September 2007 Assembly. I know that our efforts will be richly blessed and so too will the lives of all those who have the good fortune to be touched by the spirit and life of the simple country priest and Marist Father who is our founder. Let us come together in one heart for the sake of our common mission: to make Jesus known and loved!”

The General Council’s Mission Commission

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