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Marist Bulletin - Number 265


Provincial assembly for the Marist mission - Marist presence in Bolivia

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Provincial assembly for the Marist

Province of South Central Brazil

The 8th September 2006 will remain an important date in the history of the Province of Brasil Centro-Sul as it was on this day that the Provincial Assembly for the Marist mission was held in order to prepare for the International Assembly. It was the result of six months work in which 1,199 brothers and laypeople voluntarily participated in 105 reflection groups. The Assembly was a time of meeting, of sharing and of celebration which brought together about 800 participants coming from the schools, social units, hospitals, communication means, the publishing house and the university.
The amphitheatre of the Pontifical Catholic University of Paraná was too small to host all the energy and enthusiasm of the Marist hearts present. If the objectives were to celebrate all the work done by the various groups of AIMM and to present a beautiful mosaic with the diversity of people, services and ways of living the charism, it can be claimed that these objectives were completely realised. By each gesture and each look, all manifested their desire to find themselves under the large Marist “tent”.
Three moments of this day merit special attention. Firstly, there were the cultural and artistic presentations which touched all the participants and demonstrated how art is an expressive way to live the charism. Secondly, there was the reflection on the Marist identities of a brother and a layperson, on equal terms, by thinking of the mission and the Marist identity in Brazil and in the Province. Thirdly, there was the presentation of the synthesis of the report realised in the units. This résumé spoke of successes, challenges and reactions; it enriched the discussions and fortified the will of all in contributing to the mission.
The day finished with a beautiful eucharistic celebration, presided by the Archbishop of the Sanctuary of Aparecida do Norte and a former student and novice master, Father Raymundo Damasceno. In his homily he spoke of the importance of the Marist Brothers in Brazilian education and the importance of this process of revitalisation by AIMM for the Institute and the Church.
One heart and one mission. It was the Spirit alive in each local group and in this Provincial Assembly. We have a lot of work ahead of us, a lot of challenges to face, but now we know that we are walking together. The process will be followed in the Province as we prepare ourselves for the Assembly at Mendes in 2007.

Province of Compostela
The Province of Compostela celebrated its Marist mission assembly in order to prepare for the 1st Marist International Mission Assembly which will be held at Mendez (Brazil) from the 3rd to the 12th September 2007.
From the 7th to the 9th September 2006, Santiago de Compostela (Spain) welcomed more than one hundred and fifty teachers, representing seventeen schools, other works and the Provincial mission.
The reflection was animated by Dr. D. José Sarrión Cayuelas, Director of the Luis Vives university school, with his presentation: A look at the young people of today and the challenges in education, by Brother Emili Turú, General Councillor, who entitled his presentation: Educators and Marists: something new is in the process of being born, and finally by His Lordship Raúl Berzosa, auxiliary bishop of Oviedo, who centred his presentation on Evangelising by instructing: a mission in the future.
Then, there was the sharing of opinions and experiences in groups to draw out conclusions:
“The assembly was a starting point” where we verified with hope that “the spirit of Marcellin is alive in Compostela” and that “something new was in the process of being born.” Brothers and laypeople felt “involved in the mission” and “bet on their works and social actions” because they are “a central aspect of the educational and evangelising task.” The Assembly wanted to respond “to the real needs of young people and to the signs of the times and to be interested in the whole person, family and community”, giving a lot of attention to its “interior and spiritual dimension”.
Those who met at Santiago noted that the project-dream of Champagnat “is a current challenge, stronger than ever” that invites “the brothers and laypeople to walk together in order to give it life today.” In order to respond to the signs of the times, as Champagnat did, the following proposals were made:
1. To propose activities that integrate the entire Marist educational community: parent committees, evangelisation groups, promotion of voluntary work, extracurricular meetings with families, teachers and students etc. To be particularly attentive to the communication between all these people.
2. To promote and give a new creativity to the evangelising action of our centres. To recover or give new life to a joint plan of action for the school (concretion of the Educational Plan of the Centre) with objectives, follow-up and evaluation. This plan must be made by listening to the students and their needs and by giving priority to aspects such as: personal tutors, groups of collaborators, curricular and extracurricular activities…
3. To empower in a real way the solidarity in our centres, implementing the social work of each school and by assuming a clear preference for those more underprivileged than the centre itself (students with more educational or social needs) and of the environment (immigrants).
4. To give a new impetus and update to the Marist presence between the students (in school time and in free time) and also to the tutelage as a key educational and global means (personalised attention; surroundings and cares of an affective world); in relation to parents…
5. To stress times of sharing experiences, giving ourselves time to indicate what we do and live in order to know ourselves better, etc. (one could plan three meetings per year with formative and celebrational elements).
6. To develop spirituality more in the classrooms, through workshops or programmes, (realised in work groups) starting with the smallest to the oldest, as well as an adequate pedagogy of prayer.
7. To give priority to groups (Marcha, Animar) for action and formation, since they are an indispensable tool in the world today.
8. To strengthen animation teams to respond to the concerns raised during this assembly. To promote the greatest commitment of all the teachers in the tasks of animation.
9. To form and energise in each school mixed Marist fraternities, formed of brothers and of laypeople, open to the students and to their families, who can be inspired by Marist documents and spirituality, and who look after all the spiritual dimensions of the people in order to be transformed in one source of life and evangelisation.
10. To continue to create a style proper to the Marist school (open, familial, point of reference for society) in which a special place is reserved for our distinctive characteristics such as: attention to diversity, close relationships, openness to spiritual values, involvement of the family, commitment to solidarity, accompaniment of the integral development of each student, etc.

Iberian Province
Also the Iberian Province realized its assembly, between 1st and 3rd September. 140 people had been congregated, who represented 580 people that had participated of the local phase. The referring material to this meeting is available in Spanish on our web, on this address:

Marist presence in Bolivia

Marist educators’ manifesto

We are Marist educators, brothers and laypeople, from the Province of Santa María de los Andes, coming from Roboré, San José de Chiquitos, Santa Cruz, Comarapa and Cochabamba. A representation of brothers from Peru and Chile also joined us.
We have worked in Bolivia for a long time, offering to the children and young people a liberating project of evangelisation through formal, alternative technical and permanent education, as well as other social services such as: health, cafeteria, boarding schools, and projects of community development. At present, more than 700 educators look after 9,000 students in ten schools. These young people come especially from working-class and marginalised milieux in our country and belong to several religious confessions.
From the 8th to the 10th September, we gathered at Santa Cruz de la Sierra to celebrate the fifty years of Marist presence in Bolivia and to restate our commitment for continuing to love and serve the children and young people through our Marist educational project.
We note with concern that our country is experiencing a difficult period, characterised by a strong polarisation and a lack of frank and constructive dialogue to help find a consensus which would lead to a peaceful solution to the impasse. As well, the educational policy of the government expressed in a project of law approved at Sucre concerns us, for it limits the liberty of teaching, promotes a state-controlled and lay education that does not recognise the services rendered by the Church in education and the right of the Church to instruct. It restrains also the right of the parents to choose the education that they want for their children. But, at the same time, we appreciate the proposal of the current government to include sectors which were traditionally marginalised in the process of economic, political and social development of the country and to find better living conditions and a better access to education for the children.
The meeting brought together 350 participants who were witnesses to this educational experience of evangelisation, rich and creative, that the Marists have developed everywhere in the country.
We also went to the sources of our history and of our spirituality to deepen our educational project, born from Marcellin Champagnat, in order to adopt it and translate it today according to the concrete reality of our people. For that, we want to continue to promote a pedagogy based on love, which favours those who are weak and respects diversity, which integrates faith, culture and life, which promotes the search for the meaning of life among the children in a transcendent, Christian and solid perspective, committed to the transformation of our country, which allows teachers to improve themselves constantly through professional and Christian training in order to form “good Christians and worthy citizens”, which recognises the parents as the first educators of their children and which, as a consequence, encourages them to assume their responsibility according to a Marist vision.
We ask the State to respect the freedom of teaching in the country and to encourage also the initiatives that favour a quality education for the good of the population.
We ask the Church to always maintain the pathways of dialogue open and to continue to defend valiantly the right to education through Christian values.
We ask the Marist Institute to continue to share with joy and hope the charism given to Marcellin Champagnat by God.
We ask Marist teachers to constantly progress in their commitment and in their devotion in order to offer a quality evangelising education.
We ask the students to take up their educational project in a responsible way in order to be able to incarnate in their persons the Marist values that they have received.
We ask parents who identify themselves more each day with the values of the Marist ideal to assume a greater co-responsibility in the accompaniment of their children.
Finally, at this time of uncertainty which the country is experiencing, we commit ourselves: to look at reality with the eyes of faith and to develop an attitude of hope and confidence in God who is leading us in history, to be instruments of dialogue, of encounter and understanding which contribute in breaking the current climate of confrontation, to continue to enthuse ourselves in our vocation as Marist teachers, by centring our lives passionately on Jesus and his Gospel, in the way of Mary, to continue to prefer to teach children and young people in need, to offer a quality evangelising education by stressing academic, pastoral and solidarity aspects, and to be creative in our educational responses in order to face the challenges that this new world presents to us and which touch our lives.
Santa Cruz, 10th September 2006.

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