2022-03-14 GENERAL HOUSE

General Conference: “I felt so inspired, renewed and excited”

My experience of the first week of the General Conference

Br. Vincent Uchenna Abadom – Region Africa

The gathering started on Monday evening 7th March with Holy Mass. The Mass was powerful and beautifully animated. The same can be said of the prayers throughout the week which demonstrated the deep reverence for all of life held by the General House community that welcomed us warmly with an open arms. There were feelings of joy and happiness meeting ourselves once more as the leaders of the institute. I felt belonged and connected with all the Administrative Units of the institute. There was no barrier, not even geographical differences nor was language able to be obstacle to the level of relationship I experienced during the week. The new appointed provincials were able to adapt so fast as if they have been part of the group. I mean, we formed a real global family and lived it out during the week.

The General Conference is almost a replica of the last General Chapter in Rio Negro. We found ourselves reliving the experience of the General Chapter. The two important questions we asked ourselves during the Chapter was posed once again as we continue to evaluate the calls of the Chapter: “Who is God calling us to be and what is God calling us to do”. We started exploring these questions by trying to understand the current trends we are living which was not there or foresaw during the General Chapter but really have a lot of impact on the children and young people and the whole world. For instance, Coronavirus pandemic, Racism, the rise of political popularism and political polarisation, the angry internet (fake news), increase in technology, the ecological crisis, conflict in the world 2022 etc. it is quite good to understand the context we are working in because it is in these context that we meet children and young people. So we needed to ground ourselves in these context.

The program was carefully designed to give enough room for personal prayers, reflections and relaxation. For me I did not see the week as a conference rather a period of retreat. This is largely because there was always time to be on myself and listen to both my body and heart. All the presentations by the Superior General and the Councillors were touching and inspiring. There was this dynamics used was superb and supportive. We were divided into small table members in the conference hall where we most often share our experiences and thoughts both which gives room for everybody to have the opportunity of participating actively. It was very comfortable and engaging, being curious about the reality in other provinces and how they are dealing with a particular issue. This is to say that we were seriously engaged in a thoughtful conversation. Besides, we were shared in another small group known as fraternity. This will run throughout the conference. The main aim of the fraternity is to help us build a real community just as the General Chapter called us to be “Bridge builders”. It offered us the opportunity to have closer relationship with one another as we created time to listen and share with each other.

In conclusion, throughout the Week, I felt so inspired, renewed and excited. It was an opportunity to deepen my knowledge on the calls of the General Chapter as well as Marist prophetic leadership styles and skills. I am so grateful to have been a part of this group, grateful to the Superior General and his Councillors, grateful to the various secretariats and the entire General House community that made the environment to be welcoming, supportive and more intimate.

Br. Vincent Uchenna Abadom – Provincial of Nigeria and Coordinator of Marist Region of Africa


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