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Highlights of June 4 – 16

22/06/2018: General House

Seventeen formators from 12 countries and working in 14 countries are participating in a nine-week course at the general house from May 15 – July 12. Brother Gilbert Zenda, a formator in Malawi, revealed the events that stood out during the last two weeks, from June 4 – 16.

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Our formation course here in Rome has reached the sixth week and the Lord has been so good to us. We continue to experience a wholesome freshness as the programme progresses.

The fifth week started off with an intimate presentation on Affectivity by Brother Sean Sammon, our elder brother and former superior general. He took us through many aspects of affectivity and how intimacy with self and others can enhance our intimacy with God. At every level of our human development we experience affectivity in different ways and this awareness is a great tool in living a healthy consecrated life. As he explained issues that are connected to midlife, he bridged the intergenerational gap and made the group feel at home. As far as our life is concerned, Jesus is the only logical reason for our consecration and commitment.

During the programme’s fifth week, preparations for the feast of Saint Marcellin (June 6) were also underway. Mass was celebrated in the evening by Archbishop Jorge C. Patron Wong, the Vatican’s Secretary for Seminaries of the Congregation for the Clergy. A very warm servant of God and a friend of the brothers. Our workers and their families, members of the Marist Family and invited guests joined in the celebration. Brother Ernesto Sánchez, superior general, addressed the congregation stressing the calls of the 22nd General Chapter and how they are going to shape the Congregation’s direction. Everybody present was invited to a sumptuous meal that was shared as one family.

On June 9, the group had a guided excursion around the Tuscan town of Viterbo (city of popes). It was interesting to discover that the Tuscans were the ones who invented the architectural arches that were later popularized by the Romans. Viterbo is regarded as a city of the popes as they briefly moved the Holy See to that town from 1257 and 1281. Pope Clement IV is buried in the Cathedral. It was at the Papal palace next to the Cathedral that the term conclave was coined. There was so much to see and as lunch time came we were all ready to share wine and bread. Because the bonds are growing stronger, this was the most enjoyable outing ever.

Sister Mariola Lopez RSCJ worked with the group for three days in the sixth week, emphasizing the importance of The Personal Care of the Formator. Her task was to encourage the formators to take care of their own hearts in order to be able to take care of those placed under their care. She divided the human development stages into the natural seasons: spring, summer, autumn and winter pointing out characteristics related to each season. As a biblical scholar she always related her sharing to the scriptures and this was so fascinating. Her classes were actively animated with breathing techniques and dancing as instruments to encounter the inner self. ‘Jesus is the reason for our love for each other’, was her parting message.  

The last two days of the week were dedicated to doctor Jesús Sepúlveda Muñoz who walked us through physical health issues. He gave us pieces of advice and his approach was very friendly and down to earth. We were encouraged to do everything we can to keep ourselves healthy while respecting our age and environment. He made use of statistics to convey the message and we realised that one’s zip code is more important to one’s health than one’s genetic code. Our environment shapes our health and facilities that are availed in one’s geographic location. I am sure lots of personal decisions were made in relationship to his pieces of advice.

The group expressed its gratitude to all the presenters in different ways. One thing that clearly makes a mark is that the sessions have had a transformative effect on the group. Each week shapes the group in ways that are amazing as people reflect on the ongoing presentations and share in fraternities.

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Br Gilbert Zenda

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