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Marist Bulletin - Number 28


Brother Antonio Ramalho, interviewed by Brother Lluís Serra

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Br. Antonio Ramalho, 55 , was born in Maceió, Brazil. He holds graduate degrees in Philosophy from Pernambuco and Theology from Louvain, Belgium. An educator, formator, and Provincial of Brazil North for 12 years, he is now a General Councillor, in charge of the Religious Life Commission.

Is the life of a Brother relevant in today’s world?
Giving witness to God’s preeminence, consecrating one’s life to God with a hope born of faith and rooted in a gratuitous and universal love – being a disciple of Christ – is always relevant.

Wouldn’t you have to reinvent the religious life to make it understandable in today’s world?
We should make a great effort to understand today’s world, its cultures, and especially its young people. We need to spice up our religious life with new seasoning, put more zip into the Gospel life we bring to others, make that life more appealing. That is what refounding is all about.

What part does formation play in this task?
Formation has the task of nourishing the future, by encouraging young people to explore new avenues concerning the genuineness of our charism, starting from an identity which should be taken for granted, loved and accepted.

What priorities would your Commission hope to address?
In order to address the priorities of the 20º General Chapter, the Commission for Religious Life would assist the Provinces to vitalise our consecration, our spirituality and the community life of the Brothers. With support from an International Commission on Formation we hope to stimulate initial and permanent formation particularly, on a regional scale, the preparation of formators and community animators, greater cooperation among the formation teams and a greater openness to cultural diversity.

Do you see Marist life continuing to attract young people?
Jesus Christ and Marcellin Champagnat continue to attract the young. The Marist charism remains highly relevant today. The important thing is to know whether of not our Brothers and communities are giving concrete evidence of a coherent lifestyle, one that attracts young people, too, and promises to provide them with meaning in their lives.

What does the fact that we live in community contribute to this?
In a world so compartmentalized and dissimilar, marked by a variety of fanatical movements, life in community, centered on the Gospel, can bear witness to a fraternity without borders, one without discrimination or prejudice, a place of welcome and communion, where the bread and wine of solidarity and celebration are joyfully distributed.

To what extent can lay people share in our Marist religious life?
The reassessment of the role of lay people in the Church is being accompanied by their more dynamic and interactive participation in the spirituality and mission of various religious families. Starting from our baptismal consecration, we, Brothers and Lay Marists, traveling side by side and engaged in mutual dialog, will be better able to deepen the identity of our respective vocations in the Church, inspired by a charism that is a gift from God and the heritage of that very same Church.

(FMS Marist Echo 41, September 2002)

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