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Marist Bulletin - Number 223


Interview with Brother Giovanni Maria Bigotto, Postulator General

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A. M. Estaún.

Brother Giovanni Maria Bigotto is the Institutes Postulator General. He has been entrusted with the causes of our Marist saints. He usually resides in Rome, but last summer he went to Madagascar to give retreats to the brothers. He has spent thirty-three years of his life in Madagascar and he still belongs to this Province.

We are very happy that you made the vow of stability in the Marist life. Congratulations.
Yes. It was the 16th July, Saturday, the day of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, that I made the vow of stability in the chapel of the Marist Brothers at Mahatamana, Antsirabe. It was during the final Mass of a retreat that I had just given to the brothers of Madagascar, and the brothers surrounded me with their prayers while just before communion I committed myself by this vow. I had asked the Brother Provincial, Brother Sylvain Ramandimbiarisoa to place his hand on my shoulder during the profession of the vow.

A vow of stability? Can you tell us what a vow of stability means for a Marist and what it supposes?
When I re-read Article 170 in the Constitutions which speaks of the vow of stability, it states well what I was feeling inside:
When we arrive at an age when we see more clearly the harmony between our personal vocation and our belonging to the religious family that has nourished us with its life, we may ask, when the Holy Spirit so moves us, to make the vow of stability.
This step expresses our longing to reproduce in our own lives the fidelity that God shows towards us, and to express our gratitude to the Virgin Mary and to the Institute. We also wish to re-affirm, in the presence of our Brothers, our desire to live the Marist ideal with generosity…
When speaking with Seán, I also expressed a certain fear: What more can I do, when the years advance and health deteriorates? But, I understood that the vow does not necessarily mean doing more, but simply making a gesture of love.

What pushed you to commit yourself by this vow?
I was well aware that this vow is neither obligatory, nor fashionable and that it no long gives you the right to more responsibilities. Like many others, I had heard the theological criticisms of this vow. In this analysis, this vow has perhaps a bit more meaning.
The desire to make this vow came to me regularly in prayer. That had lasted for years. It was a desire to say thank you to God after many years of religious life: forty-eight years; a desire to give myself to him again with more lucidity. I was nineteen when I made my first vows and twenty-five when I made final vows. I think I made these vows with generosity, but what did I know of life?
Now that I am sixty-seven years old, I have already travelled a good bit of life. I have known joys, failures, moments of grace and of sin, responsibilities and the joy of announcing Christ directly to young people. Above all, I have been able to read the faithfulness of the Lord, the patience of the Spirit when the clay vase broke in his hands or when it was so fragile. I have known also that Mary has given me her hand in the early days of the death of my mother. I was eleven years old and a few months after I entered the Juniorate at Gassino, with the brothers.
Yes, it was above all the need to say thank you to God and to take up again the journey with him, as married people do when they restate their love after long years of living together.

You have made this gesture of fidelity in the vocational setting that was created in the Institute with the Marist Vocation Year. What do you feel about the future?
A certain fear was born in the second part of Article 170 of the Constitutions:
By this vow, we commit ourselves to mark our fidelity to the Lord by an even closer attachment to Him, and to do all that we can to make our communities more fraternal, more fervent, more favourable to the spiritual growth of our Brothers and to the awakening of vocations. We also commit ourselves to do all that we can to lead the Institute to follow the direction of the Founders charism. In addition, we undertake to persevere, even in circumstances of greatest difficulty for ourselves and our religious family.
How do I assume all of that? That was when the certitude came to me that there were two of us making this vow: Christ and me. Even if there is a lot of fragility on my part, on the part of the Lord there is a strong, faithful, constant love that gives me the audacity to go forward.
And so that the vow does keep its liveliness, its freshness and does not become routine or forgotten, every morning I place myself once more into the hands of Mary with the certitude that in these hands it will flourish, it will bear fruit; flowers and fruit of which I am absolutely unaware, but which will not be lacking. Such is the certitude and the peace that Mary can put into your heart and life.
Two aspects have enriched this vow: without organising this deliberately, the vow was professed on a Saturday, the day of the feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. For me that is a sign from the Good Mother. The other aspect is that it was professed during this special Vocation Year that has been celebrated throughout the Institute.

Despite all, do not forget to pray for me and for our religious Family.

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