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Marist Bulletin - Number 218

 

Strategic plan for a project of Mission ad Gentes
20.10.2005

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Mission ad gentes and the institute
Mission ad gentes forms part of the history of the Institute. Champagnat wanted to be a missionary and he himself sent the first missionary brothers. One of the most important missionary moments for the Institute was in 1903 when about 900 brothers left France. The Institute must recognise the efforts of these brothers who went to other lands without being prepared to be missionaries and without knowing the language of the places to which they were dispatched, but they were animated by a great and daring faith.
The Institute created the Saint Francis Xavier Work which functioned in the houses at Grugliasco and Bairo, to prepare missionaries. In 1967, they had to change their direction. The General House decentralised the responsibility for promoting mission ad gentes transferring it to the Provinces. The dynamism of this formula was decaying and with time there started to exist a list of names who were at the disposition of the Superior General to be sent wherever he considered it to be opportune. In the XIX General Chapter mission ad gentes was energised based on the principles of solidarity and international co-operation. From the XX General Chapter the possibility of writing a new chapter in this missionary history was opened.

Rules for a new chapter in the Marist missionary history
The present situation of the Marists in relation to the mission ad gentes in the Institute has some immediate antecedents. From the reading of the following statistics one can attempt to learn a lesson about the events of this history.

Year

Missionaries

Average age

1989

553

51,37

1990

556

52,20

1991

563

52,80

1992

566

53,63

1993

569

54,45

1994

571

55,34

1995

574

56,15

1996

575

57,09

1997

576

59,04

1998

576

59,04

1999

576

60,04

2000

577

60,98

2001

583

61,60

2002

588

62,28

2003

595

62,82

2004

596

63,76



With these figures in hand, one can note:

a. That the Provinces have done good work in their mission ad gentes continuing and opening new Marist missionary presences after the International Missionary Houses were closed.
b. That with the passing of time, the Provinces have met difficulties in sending brothers less than fifty years of age to the projects of mission ad gentes.
c. That the Institute still has a margin of opportunity to revitalise this important dimension of its mission and life.
d. That, though the number of brothers have diminished in the Institute, the number of missionary brothers has not diminished, but they have become older.

Project for a mission ad gentes
Brother Luis García Sobrado, Vicar General, in the VII General Conference in Sri Lanka expressed the master guidelines of a operative plan to send a significant number of brothers in the coming years in mission to Asia as a priority, but also to Marist Provinces in need, as well as encouraging the internationality of the Provinces projects ad gentes.
The project anticipates an appropriate formation for the candidate, with English as the common language for the participants, to be the most used as the means of communication in Asia and also the second language most known by the brothers of the Institute less than forty years of age.
The place where this formation could take place is Manilla due to its proximity to the Asian continent and where there exists a strong Catholic presence. Other places, such as Sri Lanka and Rome, have not been excluded.
The project was well accepted due to its global nature, though there were questions concerning how to carry this out and about the places for its application.

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