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Marist Bulletin - Number 90


Colombian Brother, Néstor Quiceno, Founder of the REMAR Movement

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Bro. Lluís Serra

Brother Néstor Quiceno, (a Marist from Colombia) is currently 68 years old. He studied in the “Jesus Magister Institute” of the Pontifical Lateran University, and in the Marianum. He also obtained a Licentiate in Youth Ministry at the Pontifical Xaverian University of Bogotá. It was there that, 26 years ago, he created the REMAR MOVEMENT, a lively initiative which still today is experiencing a surge of popularity in the world of youth, and which has spread to many Latin American countries, and even as far as Australia. Néstor was Provincial of Colombia,and thereafter offered his services as a missionary in Rwanda for four years. At the moment he accompanies the young men who are aspiring to Marist life in the postulancy of Manizales.

Last year REMAR celebrated its 25th birthday. Are you happy about the way things are going?
Happy, no. Rather, I am DELIGHTED! Especially when I note the drive, the wide expansion, and the solidity which the movement has acquired in the different countries. REMAR has really developed its own dynamic and no longer needs the presence of those of us who were the first labourers in the vineyard. Those directing the movement today are young Marists who themselves are REMAR products! I was unable to personally attend the silver anniversary celebrations because I was still in Africa on misionary service in Rwanda.

REMAR has other names, and is now implanted in a number of different countries. Can you give us a brief sketch of the current situation?...
One of REMAR’s greatest qualities is the way it has gone on adapting to the new countries in which it finds itself.
- There are three recognized names by which the movement is now known: “REMAR”, which is its original name. “NAVEGAR”, by which it is known in Argentina and Paraguay (this change was necessitated by a previously existing Protestant group for the rehabilitation of the marginalized, which is found in most of Latin America, and carries the same initials, RE.MAR.) Whereas in Chile and Peru it is known as MARCHA; this fits the topography of the Andean region, giving the sense of walking along a mountain path...
- The Movement in each country is shaping its own specific style for bringing to life the same basic REMAR ideal.
- In the Movement over its 25 years of existence, there has arisen a need for reconsidering its structures, and for re-founding the vision employing the language of today. On the occasion of the 25th anniversary, a congress was held (in Bogotà, July 2002) to which 11 Provinces sent representatives. There a process of “Re-Foundation” was set in motion. We are hoping that by mid-2004 that process will be complete.
- Throughout its existence, the Movement has generated a lifestyle which has ben adopted by many young people for the living of their Christian commitment. It has also given rise to new spaces in the Church.

In spite of the diversity you’ve just spoken of, has the Movement been able to retain its founding principles?
Yes. It has maintained the essential elements such as: the centrality of Jesus, with Mary and Champagnat; the structures of staging and process; most aspects of its ‘mystique’; its own “lexicon” of terms; its commitment and its social outreach; its focus on group life, youth community; and the exercise of leadership fostering the development of an active and participative formational style which is well appreciated by today’s youth.

What moved you to found the REMAR Movement, and what were the original objectives proposed?
In the decade of the 70s there was a widespread crisis of youth associations in Latin America. The majority at the time could be described as “sacristy groups” with virtually no social outreach whatsoever. What those of us betting on a new model of youth ministry were looking for was to create something very different: a model where young people felt themselves to be agents of their own human development in all its dimensions, but most of all in spirituality and solidarity.

Why do you think adolescents and young people continue to commit themselves to REMAR?
They seem to identify with the challenge it proposes; the Movement generates within them a sense of responsibility, of leadership capacity, and above all of real effectiveness, all of which encourages the flowering of their potentials. Another essential element is the space for socializing which it offers: times of shared fun and of meaning discovery. It gives them the chance of BEING church, they encounter a model of renewed Church, from which a youth spirituality flows. Furthermore, REMAR has continuously renewed itself and has been able to adapt its action patterns to different environmental contexts. In addition it has enriched itself by learning from other models of youth experiences.

What are the Values which REMAR proposes to young people?
One of the values characterizing the movement is that of SERVICE; this motivates youth, especially when it is directed to the less favoured. Then FRIENDSHIP is a value heavily emphasized in the movement. In the REMAR training process. For each of the several stages, the living of two or three specific values which drive personal and group maturation is proposed. (In the RED stage: commitment and sacrifice; in the BLUE: simplicity, loyalty and depth of living; in the YELLOW: clarity, radiation, and joy.)
Furthermore, we try to present these values enfleshed in persons and concrete situations which serve as models in real life.

Is it just a spiritual Movement, or does it take into account engagement in society?
The Movement’s spirituality is incarnated in everyday life: it is a spirituality which enfolds social engagement. It is closely linked to the Marist Apostolic Spirituality, which seeks to discover God from and for life. From the experience of faith, meaning is conferred on life, but by the same token, faith is enriched by the deepening of life experience. And a key factor within this spirituality is the strong communitarian sense.

What formation is given to monitors, and other office-bearers in the Movement?
In REMAR, the monitors are called: “Timoneles” (= “Helmsmen”). Basically formation starts by simply belonging to the Movement. Thereafter meetings, courses, workshops follow—both at local level, as well as regional and national—whose object is to qualify members in the specific tasks required for animating and coordinating the Movement. In fact, leadership training has always been always been one of the priorities in the ongoing refounding of REMAR. Furthermore, each Province has its own particular formation plan.

I have been told that university studies have been done on REMAR. What has been the general trend of such research, and what results has it produced?
We know for sure that numerous Brothers have conducted such research, but the results have not been widely published. Those we are aware of have examined the pedagogical, methodological and spiritual background underlying the basic pastoral format of REMAR. Others have analyzed the reality of the Movement as takes root in different countries, seeking alternative openings for growth.

If a group of persons wished to implant REMAR in their country, what steps would they need to take?
Since we are dealing with an experience of faith lived together with young people, it is necessary to have close and realistic contact with the nature of the REMAR project itself. In fact, this has been a constant element in the dispersal of the Movement into other countries. On the other hand it essential that the REMAR project itself be discerned to be an authentic pastoral response for the Province which its considering its implementation. In this context the experience of Australia is interesting: it is the only non-Latin country which has taken up the REMAR project.

What do you think is the core reason for REMAR’s success and acceptance among young people today?
REMAR proposes dreams and utopian visions; it is a life project which gives identity and meaning. Another source of its sucess springs from the personal interaction which is stimulated within the group (“Caravel”) in virtue of its empowering a young person to be the agent of his own growing, through the medium of the leadership roles he is obliged to exercise within the group. Another significant element is the large number of Brothers and lay folk who have placed their bets on, and continue investing in REMAR in spite of the many difficulties which our times throw up every day. The social dimension of REMAR’s solidarity project has motivated many young people to commit themselves as “young Christs” for Latin America. Many and varied are the social works (such as schools, health centres, legal support offices, etc.) which have continued to spring up in different countries thanks to the initiatives of REMAR members.

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