2010-09-08 THAILAND

Forty-five participants, twenty-two nationalities

Our Assembly finished on 2 August. I believe it was a special one in that for certain Brothers, it was the first time they had met. This was something special, but also very real. These Brothers were there, brought together by the same ideal, having prepared for the same mission, sent by the General Council to work in six countries of Asia. They arrived gradually, some by vehicle, some by plane. Those from Cambodia chose to travel by bus. Those coming from a big country? know that they cannot predict what will happen; so they took precautions and prepared their travel in a special way (different flights, days, time-tables). « We didn?t want to be noticed?, we have to be careful », they told us.

Those from India were fewer in number than anticipated. At present, there are three Brothers, one from India and two from Spain, running a boarding school for children of the indigenous Sandales. Soon this boarding school will offer a Community College programme which will include growing interaction with the neighbouring villages. The three brothers, who are already conversant in Bangla, are preparing to learn the rudiments of Sandal in order to understand the families which do not use Bangla. So an extra effort is required to learn one more language! The group from Bangladesh arrived with some members at least. Three of Brothers from the communities could not come. A Brother from Nigeria was refused an entry visa into Thaïland. Reason: racial prejudice. The Brother from the Solomon Islands has not received his new passport, and Eugenio, a Spanish Brother, is convalescing in Spain after a surgical operation. Those of Thailand arrived in full strength, as did those from other countries.

The Assembly meetings were held in a pastoral centre near the airport. The first days were programmed for getting to know and share about the projects of each place. Members of the General Council were also present. The internationalism was evident at the work tables: 45 participants, 22 nationalities. You would think you were at the World Cup: Spain, Portugal, South Africa, Ghana, Argentine, Brasil, Paraguay, Italy, Malaysia, Madagascar, Scotland, Guatemala, Colombia, Zimbabwe, Australia, Mexico, New Zealand, Philippines, India, Zambia, Sri Lanka and Germany.

The ages of the participants varied. Brothers in temporary vows rubbed shoulders with Brothers who had celebrated 50 years of religious life; young ones full of life had passionate exchanges with brothers full of experience who had given their best in other lands. The days of meetings passed; then came days of retreat and prayer?

To live the spirituality of the marginalised, to be like Jesus? model of the « marginal Jew» who in complete freedom transcended the boundaries existing in the social, political, cultural and religious domains. Jesus, the inclusive being, accepting Jews and non-Jews, men and women, children and old people, rich and poor, powerful and weak, healthy and sick, pure and impure, just and sinners, and no matter what other category? These ideas and similar ones were a continual invitation to conversion.
The retreat was included in the Assembly in order to clarify the priorities and suggest processes of development in each place. We finished with a feeling of gratitude towards God and to all the people who had made this possible. We discovered once more fraternity and internationalism as a richness allowing us to be open to our confrères and to enlarge our hearts like Marcellin, the man without frontiers, who spread abroad the missionary seed which is beginning to sprout today in this part of Asia.

This « Constituant Assembly » provided the stage for the installation of Brother Luis García Sobrado as new Superior of the Sector for three years. It was the Brother Vicar General, Joe McKee, who presided at his installation in the name of Brother Superior General. The same Assembly elected the new Council for the Sector: Brothers Alex Arockiasamy (India), Juan Castro (Mexico).


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