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Marist life at the noviciate of Matola


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20/06/2008: Mozambique


hspace=5There are times that our novices and perhaps with a member of staff visit the brother at Maputo to get some words of wisdom from him and others. This time I joined them. As usual Irmao Joao Reis had something to share with us. As you can see he is holding a paper which had a touching story and he had to read loudly to us before he could give an explanation. Our posture tell volumes that we were attentive ‘alunos’ as they say in Portuguese, literally meaning pupils in English.

I discovered that he has understood well what it means to be a Marist Educator. No wonder we invite him every year to give the homily on Champagnat Day. When we are with our brother, we feel always kept busy. He shares his experiences and the results of his reflections or what he could have drawn from his wider reading. He knows how to keep others busy and feed them with up to date information.

The chapel has a first place in him. Maputo had no chapel for several years. At the beginning of this year, you will be more than surprised to see a prayer house, ‘oratory’, well decorated to give you an ambient of the house of God. Yes we need Brothers who put first things first in our life. If young men do not see a prayer place, they may have a wrong impression and some may even misinterpret us that prayer is not a priority in us, yet from Champagnat we see how many times he had always stressed the visit to the Blessed Sacrament. I sometimes say Joao took the advice of our Founder to the letter. In that oratory Mary has a special corner. The Founder would say bravo Joao, you’re a true son of Mary.

Another touching part of his life is that he enjoys putting order in the house. He has put order in the house and we enjoy each time we visit the place. It reminds me of Brother Jean Baptiste Adrias, the second brother of the institute. He was known for order and Father Allirot at Marlhes always had good opinion of him. We need such brothers to inspire us with their life in communities.

He also believes in community. Many times he invites us to meet from time to time, to enjoy together what it means to be Marists. He initiates community encounters. He believes in the power of community. I said we are community centered people like the first Christians so that those who see us can say, ‘ Look how they love one another.’ When l was going through a small experience of being misjudged for my generosity to a kid who seemed took me as a father substitute, he followed me like Mary with a word of encouragement. I said sometimes others may leave us do all alone. When others are behind you with moral support, they lighten the burden we have to carry, our small calvaries. How can such a brother be forgotten? Yes , and all of you who upon hearing, could not afford to remain indifferent. Brothers moral support given by a prayerful community is more powerful than a gun or an arrow in a traditional community.
I have discovered that we should not hesitate to share with young people what makes our life tick. You may be serving a vocation in some of them especially now that our life seems to be less understood even by those closer to us. We have to say , ‘ I do not regret having being called to brotherhood and without it my life would have been empty and wont of meaning.’ It will not be pride but appreciation of our vocation. We have to say what could have sustained us during doubting moments of our vocation. The second Marist Brother, Luis at one time doubted his vocation but the founder sat down with him and brought to his awareness the importance of his vocation. That alone saved him from abandoning as Jean Marie Granjon who could not take advice did. We need people who are quick to see wonderful brothers doubting their vocation and immediately getting closer to them and reminding them the value of their vocation. Let us not stand a distance when a good brother is going through a crisis. God bless.

Simeon Banda, Matola

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