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Marist Bulletin - Number 44

 

Reflections from a meeting on Vocations Ministry, which took place in Rome
02.01.2003

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FOLLOWING JESUS IN MARIST BROTHERHOOD

At the beginning of December, five Brothers from different countries spent some days of discussion on vocations. (See Marist Bulletin no. 41) We have requested of these Brothers that they share with us some reflections from their meeting.

Brother Peter Ernst, Province of Sydney, Australia
I have been the Co-ordinator for Vocations Ministry in my Province for the past four years. I work with a Team of Brothers in my Province (The Vocations and Formation Taskforce). I am also a member of the Australian Inter-Province Formation Group (combining Sydney and Melbourne Provinces).
This meeting has provided the opportunity to meet Brothers from around the world in a real sense of sharing brotherhood. Our discussions, of both personal experiences and dreams for the Institute, opened my eyes to many possibilities. We are now challenged to not only continue to “do” our Vocations Ministry but continue to “research and refine” what we do. We have seen the need to spend time with questions such as “What does it mean to be Brother in today’s world?” and “What is Vocations Ministry for today’s world?” We have also realised that the answer to these questions may involve different strategies and solutions for different regions!
The challenge for all of us will be to have an openness to the answers and a willingness to support and encourage the strategies adopted by the Vocations Commission. This will take us forward into the new millennium.

Brother Rémy Mbolipasiko Dikala, District of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
My participation in this meeting has been an extraordinary, invaluable and enriching experience. I didnt hesitate for an instant to respond positively to the invitation to take part. I shared all my experience in this field and I learned much from the different experiences of the other participants. We were unanimous in recognising that the Vocations Ministry begins with PRAYER to the Owner of the Harvest that he will send workers to his vineyard and also for the COMMUNITY that, through its testimony and lifestyle, encouraged by its Superior, it will attract or discourage vocations. But, at the heart of the Vocations Ministry is the crucial question of our IDENTITY: Who are we and what is our mission, in the context of the current world and in the peculiar situation of the places where we are? Also, the Vocations Ministry should be a PLANNED action on all the levels of the Institute, and no longer an individual task but of TEAM.

Brother Joaquim Sperandio, Marist Province of Brazil Center-Sul
I came away from this international conference dedicated to the animation of our marist vocation highlighting two convictions: the first, that one of the pillars of the Vocations Ministry was shown to us by Jesus when he said to the Apostles that looked for it: Come and they will see. This encounter, together with the life that we shared during our time together, encourages us to live our consecration in such a way that we are cheerful and visible signs of the presence of God among the new generations. For this to happen, welcoming communities are needed, able to share their passion for Christ and their ideal of life with the youth. I believe personally in the force of testimony.
Another piece of advice that the Master left us is the prayer. Ask of the Lord of the harvest that he send workers. It is not a mechanical prayer, but made with the whole heart and in all sincerity. A prayer that leads to conversion, to a more simple, welcoming and dedicated life, to coordinated action. Sooner or later, God will listen to an available and vigilant heart. It was this way with Marcellin; it will be this way with our provinces. To pray with faith and to act with audacity and creativity. God will send us vocations, if this is what He wishes.

Brother Valerià Simón, Marist Province, Catalonia, Spain
To have taken part in this encounter on Vocations Ministry has meant realising, in company with my brothers from other continents the goodness and the audacity to propose to youth the possibility of becoming a Marist brother. In some cases we find this style of Vocations Ministry difficult. While respecting the person deeply, we trust and know that God has a plan for each one of us. To be a Marist brother should not be an option held back from youth in spite of the cultural and social situation that does not favour it in any way.

Brother Bernard Beaudin, Province of Canada
Is the Vocations Ministry a priority? Do we have the need to involve ourselves in a common reflection to develop and to plan new and audacious ways ahead in the area of the Vocations Ministry, for ourselves as Marist brothers?
My reply is: YES! Yes, in the first place, because it is an opportunity to formulate and to express in a new way, today, our act of faith in the God of Jesus Christ, in the dream of love of Marcellin for youth and in the intercession of Mary for this work that is his.
Yes, it is urgent to be given the necessary tools to have, at the level of the whole Institute and of each Administrative Unit, strong moments of reflection and encounter to encourage us to continue, in new ways, our mission of servants of the Magnificat.
The community that we form is the first promoter of vocations. Is our faith really alive in Jesus word about the necessity of praying to the Lord of the Harvest? The faith in our charism, if it is in a state of continuous conversion, allows us to be an important and necessary agent in the vocational awakening of youth, no matter at what age.

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