2023-07-18 FRANCE

European retreat for brothers at Notre-Dame de l’Hermitage

The Brothers Today Team of the Europe Region convoked a European Retreat for Brothers at Notre-Dame de l’Hermitage, July 5-10, 2023. 17 brothers from Spain, Italy, and Portugal came to the “waters of the Gier”.

The theme of the reflection and prayer was centered on these three topics: consecration to God, in the company of the brothers, for the mission. The meeting was animated by brothers Michel Morel, Eladio Gallego, Rafael Ferreira, and Maurice Goutagny. Brother Benito Arbués accompanied the group during the tour of the exhibition and the various significant areas of the house. At the end of the tour, he reminded us that Marcellin is no longer here, he has risen from the dead; In these places, only his footprints remain, he awaits us in the places where the Marist mission is being carried out.

As a tree planted along the streams of living waters of grace, which hinted at the sonorous flow of the Gier, during these short days we have known God’s love for us and have believed in Him (1Jn 4,16) and, together, we have walked in the faith that leads us to our God.

We went on a pilgrimage to La Valla where we visited the rooms of the house accompanied by the brothers of the community who live in this privileged place of the Institute and gathered around the fraternity table. Jesus, the reason for our lives is the Lord and his Spirit gives to all, we sing with Kairoi, the musical group that knew how to embody our spirituality in their songs. We went to the hermitage of La Pitié where Champagnat used to go on pilgrimage when vocations were scarce. The pilgrims also prayed: Touch the hearts of young people, Mother, so that they will respond to God’s call. The day concluded in the parish church of La Valla.

On Saturday, July 8, we lived in a desert atmosphere around the Hermitage as we watched Marcellin gather the brothers for his retreat and create a true community. Nuestra vocación de hermano la vivimos en comunidad. The reflection process was completed with an eye on the mission: We have been called and consecrated by God and for Him in a community of brothers and in fidelity to the mission as priests, prophets, and kings. Three dimensions of the mission were deepened: Christ’s mission in me, Christ’s mission to me, and Christ’s mission with me. The mass was celebrated in the large church with Champagnat and many faithful who gathered to accompany the brothers of the Hermitage community.

On Monday, July 10, the group made a pilgrimage to Rosey where Marcellin spent his childhood and discovered his vocational call. Here again today, a spiritual pathway is opening up for the hearts of Marists that will lead us to occupy the first three places that Champagnat desired for his Little Brothers. Today, a spiritual pathway is opening up for the hearts of Marists, leading us to occupy the first three places that Champagnat desired for his Little Brothers (RV 10, 11, 25).

Next to Champagnat’s reliquary, with a heart full of joy, the religious vows were renewed with the firm decision to follow Jesus faithful to the evangelical counsels. And we left happily for our homes with our hearts full of gratitude to God and to the brothers who organized the event, accompanied us during the event, and welcomed us at the Hermitage.

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Br. AMEstaún

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