2022-03-25 VATICAN

Meeting with Pope Francis: Looking beyond and teaching others to look beyond

Meeting of General Conference participants with Pope – March 24

Pope’s message: English┬á|┬áEspa├▒ol┬á|┬áFran├žais┬á| Portugu├¬s |┬áItaliano

There could be no better conclusion to a General Conference, which took as its motto “going beyond”, than a meeting with Pope Francis, always prophetic and always inviting us to be a Church of vision, a synodal Church, going forth.

 Brother Superior General, the members of the General Council and all the Provincials and District Leaders had the privilege of being received in private audience by the Pope on 24th March 2022. As a happy coincidence, it was the feast day of the prophetic St. Oscar Romero. And it was the eve of the feast of the Annunciation, the closing day of our General Conference. For all these reasons, the call to be committed and courageous educators, and the Marian face of the Church, has become more eloquent and challenging than ever.

 At 11 o’clock in the morning, we were waiting in the audience hall of the Apostolic Palace in a mood of expectation and affection. The Pope, punctual and fatherly as ever, came into the midst of our General Conference to reinforce our communion with the Church and our commitment to the charism of Saint Marcellin, which is a gift for the whole Church.

Brother Ernesto greeted the Pope on behalf of everyone, offering him our filial obedience and asking for his blessing for all Marists: brothers, laypeople, students, families… The Pope then addressed a word of hope to us, with great warmth and depth. He spoke to us about “the horizon of God”, inviting us to “be border-crossers, not so much in a geographical sense, but in terms of our mentality”, and to be “stewards of Creation” through education.

After the audience, we took two historic and significant photos: firstly, all the Marist Leaders with the Pope; then, all the members of the General Conference in front of the statue of Saint Marcellin outside Saint Peter’s Basilica, directly in front of the papal residence.

Besides the emotion and symbolism of these two images, we now have in hand a number of challenges emanating from both this conference and the meeting with His Holiness: to build the global Marist family with fresh boldness; to renew our commitment to education in order to “look beyond and teach others to look beyond”; to become an Institute committed to “the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor”; and to commit ourselves to brotherhood, solidarity and service to children and young people in need, together, all of us, as the Marists of Champagnat.

 In the Pope’s words, this invitation combines fidelity and openness: “There is no contradiction between fidelity to one’s own roots and universal openness. On the contrary, according to the model of Christ the Lord, it is precisely by remaining faithful until the end to the covenant of love with the people entrusted to us that our service becomes fruitful for all, by the power of God’s grace”.

Now is the time to “look beyond”, like Champagnat, and to re-forge our Marist life and mission. And for that, we need brothers and lay people at the service of the global Marist Family who, with the courage of Pope Francis and the faith of Mary, dare to be truly prophetic and servant leaders. In the words of the Pope. “What a vocation, what a mission, Brothers: to cooperate with Christ and the Spirit as you accompany young people on this adventure!”

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Br. ├ôscar Mart├şn ÔÇô General Councillor

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