2014-09-24 KENYA

II International Marist Mission Assembly

Looking at the world through the eyes of young people and children

Today has been about “seeing” – How to see the world through the eyes of a child. Morning prayer focused on the text of Matthew in which Jesus took a child and put him in the midst of the disciples. Following this example, the assembly placed children and youth at the center of their attention. The song "If I could see the world through the eyes of a child" was very appropriate to our theme. And to give more depth, those present have been invited to "see the world through the eyes of Marcellin" and respond with "a heart like his."


Panel Discussion with the young 

The young folk aged between 20 and 30, presented the theme "The youth and the Marist charism”. All the young participants but one, are from Marist schools or environments. With great creativity each one presented a symbol that for them identifies the qualities of the Marist charism – symbols that spoke of presence, service, being a light to the world, joy, justice, community, going back to our basics, the way of Mary, illuminating the darkness, etc. Then they introduced individuals who reflect those values. Among them were a number of world leaders (e.g. Mandela) and Marist Brothers with whom they have shared part of their lives.

They were asked how they see the Marist of the future and where they will be personally in 2020. Their answers included in mixed communities, traveling to countries where they live the internationality of the Institute, living the Marist mission in places on the periphery, participating in structures of joint training, etc.. One of them stated that "I met the Brothers in college when I was doing some volunteering." Another said that she met the Marist charism "living in community" with the Brothers. 

In a Q&A session they were asked what the Marist life gives them. They responded by saying that there is a thirst to know what it is to be a Marist Brother. We know it is not a degree of studies but of service. It is not easy as a definite option though they would welcome temporary commitments. "We like mobility," said one of them. Another recalled the great contribution youth ministry has meant to his life. Another suggested how rich it would be to give new meaning to the promise of Fourvière to the youth. "It is tough for young people to make up our minds. So it is important to lift the cover of the tent so that young people see what other young people are doing," said another panelist. 

How do young see the Marist life in the future? They then simulated participating in the III MIMA. By then, in at the beginning of the third Marist centenary, will be "a global village",  a "consistent" community of brothers and lay "mutually supportive", available to meet any need, working for the poor and other related institutions, with public prominence, with a say in the defense of the rights of children and young … these were some of the ideas expressed. "If the mission depended upon the brothers, many of us would be willing to become brothers, but the mission is not exclusive to the brothers. “Vocation has to come from within,” pointedout  one of the young participants in the panel. The dynamic concluded with the statement of one of the young participants: "We have lived a hypothetical game, but nothing far from what we feel." 

Experience and evidence of organization and membership 

In the second part of the morning four current Marist initiatives showing how brothers and laypersons are organised and share the Marist charism in different parts of the world. Silvia introduced the Province of Santa María de los Andes. In this province, membership is done through a process of Marist education launched with an invitation to participate. It is then followed by an initiation process lasting a few years before some form of commitment. At present there are 14 communities and 142 people of the Champagnat Movement of Laypersons participating in this process.

Brother Michael Green, of the Province of Australia exhibited the characteristics of a future Marist Association of Marcellin Champagnat of Australia that would eventually be recognised both in civil and canon law. "The word Institute does not include all Marists" but only Brothers. "The Marist family is broader than the brothers." Br Michael emphasised that "in Australia lay and brothers want to be together." The Association aims to be a formula to accommodate all Marists of the future. 

Brother Réal Cloutier, of the Province of Canada, briefly explained the history of the creation of the Marist Association of Laypersons and some characteristics of this structure created to "share the inheritance of Champagnat" and to get the laypeople "be co-responsible for the Marist life."

Brother Iñigo, from the Province of Ibérica, discussed the process of forming a body that will bind the lay not necessarily to the Institute but to the charism. As part of the initiative a "School of Marist spirituality" has been created, animated by a mixed community to facilitate the processes. 

During the Q&A time, one of the participants asked about structures for former brothers. Brother Javier Espinosa, Director of the Office of the Laity responded that there are several very simple structures in the provinces of Cruz del Sur, Central America and Mexico, among others. Leadership, ownership and governance were also mentioned as realities that must be addressed. Brother Emili reported on a meeting in Rome last March about "connection and belonging" and the process initiated at Institute level to find "new models for animation, management and governance of the Institute" which will still take several months to complete. 

Immersion Experience

The afternoon was devoted to short experiences of “immersion”. Accompanied by student Brothers from MIC, small groups went to visit: 1. Don Bosco Center for rehabilitaion of boys 2 Mother Teresa House – a centre caring for orphans. 3 Kazuri association for women. 4 Ennomatasiani Girls secondary school. 5. Joram G. Boys secondary school. 6 Nyumabani -watotowa Mungu an orphanage.


Celebration of solidarity

After dinner a celebration of solidarity took place. In it the participants shared the experience of the day. A moment of internalization was then to conclude the day using the text of John 9: 1-12 and answering these questions: What had I not seen before? Who or what helped me to see more clearly? May the Spirit lead the Assembly in its final days. 

AMEstaún, 23 September


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