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Marist Bulletin - Number 303

 

European Marist Mission Assembly
19/07/2007

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The European Marist Mission Assembly was held at Guardamar from the 5th until the 8th July. This meeting took place after each one of the five European Marist Provinces had held its own Provincial Assembly. This continental stage will be followed by the International Assembly at Mendes, in Brazil, next September.

One hundred and twelve Marists, brothers and laypeople, participated in the Assembly having come from several countries. The Province of Compostela had sent twenty-two representatives; that of West Central Europe, thirteen; Ibérica, twenty-three; L’Hermitage, twenty-one; Mediterránea, twenty-two. To these numbers must be added five translators and six members of the General House, brothers and laypeople.

The opening of the meeting was proclaimed by Brother Joseph McKee, Provincial of West Central Europe and current president of the Marist European Conference. He stressed the necessity to meet as a continent and to reflect together on the challenges before us and to which we must respond in accordance with the charism of Marcellin Champagnat. He also recalled the call of the Brother Superior General: Make Jesus Christ known and loved. He concluded his speech by asking an effort of us all so that the Assembly might contribute new ideas that will help to make the Marist dream a concrete reality in the Europe of today.

Throughout the meeting, the preferred method applied was that of sharing, with exchanges in groups and in plenary sessions in order to communicate the ideas and experiences that had arisen in the different groups that had been constituted. The work carried out in the five Provinces was reflected in a synthesis of conclusions of each Province, a synthesis that served as a starting point for the sessions, and which was the response to the five following questions that the co-ordination team had posed:
- How do we evangelise the 80,000 children and young people whom we are educating in Europe?
- Where are the poor children and young people of Europe today, and how can we get closer to them?
- What common and specific aspects of the Marist vocation of a brother and a layperson do we need to discover and cultivate?
- What formation do we need as brothers and laypeople of Europe to serve our Marist mission?
- What type of Marist communities do we need to form and consolidate in order to promote our mission?

The discussion was sustained and opened many perspectives. Brothers Pau Fornells and Emili Turú contributed to the reflection through a dialogue in which they treated in particular the question of Marist identity.

One of the fruits of the Assembly is the document that presents the seventeen challenges to be faced:
1. To opt decisively for the most disadvantaged childen and young people at the heart of our formal educational work.
2. To involve people in our centres of formal education, using materials and structures for social projects.
3. To promote education for justice and solidarity in all the areas in which we are involved.
4. To opt, at provincial level for a greater presence of Brothers and lay people in areas of deprivation...
5. To create a network of Marist educational centres and social projects which will contribute, through sharing and formation, to the strengthening of our response to the most needy children and young people in Europe.
6. To be strong witnesses of the Gospel message, both personally and in community, so that our Marist work and presence remain deeply based in the Gospel.
7. To strengthen the vitality of our works and presence through the existence of Marist entities (Brothers, lay people, communities) who will live and animate the missión
8. To evaluate in a systematic and profound way the pastoral projects and processes in our Marist works, keeping in mind their context and reality.
9. To involve the families in their process of passing on the faith
10. To recognise and share experiences concernng the pastoral and evangelising work already existing in Europe.
11. To move towards co-responsibility and animation in our works, which denote a genuine participation in the mission.
12. To create meeting places, at provincial and Institute level, where lay people and Brothers can share whatever we continue to discover as Marists.
13. To encourage the formation of Marist groups, based in the heart of Champagnat, and to be close to the people and their lives..
14. To encourage in the Brothers and lay people the need for permanent formation which will help them to grow as people and encourage them in different processes.
15. To prepare, at provincial and interprovincial level, joint processes of formation specifically for Brothers and lay people, which will help them to discover, to grow and to strengthen in themselves human, Christian and Marist dimensions, while respecting their differences and diversity.
16. To find a process which will assist the lay people to define their vocation and their links to the Marist Institute. To move forward with audacity and hope.
17. To make known and to promote the Marist vocation, of Brothers and lay people as a way of living fully the Christian vocation in the world of today.

These three days of meeting showed us that the Marists of Europe are trying to revive, with love and devotion, the ideal of Marcellin and of the Gospel on the European continent. There is a great deal of enthusiasm. At the same time, one notes that it is necessary to act with audacity. One could also note the joy of the meeting and of the sharing along the pathway travelled by all. Now, the word is at Mendes, where Europe will send a delegation of fourteen people, brothers and laypeople.

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