2020-04-06 GENERAL HOUSE

Br. Luis Carlos, Vicar General: Let’s Cross the Bridge to Be Beacons of Hope

Message to Leaders of the Mission at the Province and Local Level, the Mission Comission on the Crisis of COVID-19

2 April 2020

Br. Luis Carlos Gutiérrez

Dear Brothers and Lay Marists,

During these difficult weeks, Brother Ernesto has invited all of us to look at Mary for guidance. We look to Mary to know how to see, how to feel and how to act.

We are all floundering in these confusing and unprecedented historical events. In Italy, there is tremendous pain and fear. The pandemic has caused many losses, many sacrifices, many farewells … It has also created a new appreciation of our humanity, of life itself, and of what we give importance to in our daily lives.

I think we have all been touched by this reality in one way or another, and we have been forced to take another look at what we hold to be fundamental and essential in life.

The Pope has reminded us of the value of hope, the strength of what is good, the great value of giving oneself to save the lives of others. I firmly believe in this.

Those of us in the field of education and mission feel an unavoidable responsibility to strengthen the Christian attitudes and ingenuity of our students, young people, families, and others about what is essential for the Reign of God, and above all for humanity. God exists, is with us in our human joys and sufferings, does not play games with us, gives us light, and transcends our human reality.

The pathway that we can hold up to leaders, teachers, students, catechists, families, youth leaders, social workers … is one of going back to basics, of caring care for one another, of more radical and deeper connections, of feeling one with others around the world, of less consumerism and more truth, of less things and more relationships, of more ‘us’ and less ‘me’.

This heartfelt compassion and closeness can be a step forward in the lives of all of us who make up the Marist community. We exhaust ourselves in service and solidarity, in caring for the older members of our families, in doing what we can to help in general. We are happy to be exhausted because it is the result of giving. A gift that we make deliberately and wisely. A generous gift.

Right now, in many ways, we may feel hemmed in. Maybe the present situation is a challenge for us. Little by little, concerns can start to surface about how to support our ministries and our staff and their families in this time of crisis, how to look after students and those families who have lost their source of income, how to continue helping when we experience shortages, how to keep our educational, social, university, and hospital works, our publishing houses open. These are real challenges. But we have the wisdom, the capacity, and above all the solidarity with the weakest, to find our way. And we will do it well.

It is a time for creativity and innovation in mission, in life and in solidarity. For thousands of students and teachers, it is time to learn in new ways. It is time for distance education (where possible). It is time for parents to rediscover their role in their children’s education. A time to imagine. A time to let our compassion overflow. A time to interact, hold discussions, share poems, talk about things that matter, rethink our habits, to pray, have fun, tell stories with others over the internet.

Let’s come up with new initiatives and sacrifice ourselves for the sake of charity and solidarity.

Let me conclude with the consoling words of Brother Ernesto: “Mary of the “yes” encourages and accompanies us in these difficult moments of uncertainty and pain. She, the Good Mother, holds us by the hand. Today we know her as a loving mother and also as a sister, as a companion on our journey and in our suffering, and as a companion of all the people of God.”

May we feel united to one another and close in spirit to so many who are infected or sick, to broken families and those who have died. May our prayer these days be more intense than ever.

Sincerely yours,

Brother Luis Carlos Gutiérrez, Vicar General – 2 April 2020


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