2006-09-06 PHILIPPINES

Mission ad Gentes

August 7, 2006 had been fixed by the General Council as the date to open the first Orientation session for Missionary Brothers who have offered themselves to Brother Superior General for the Asia Mission Ad Gentes Project.

The Orientation Team (Brothers Tim Leen, Alfredo Herrera and Roy Deita) had been working hard to make it happen. Every detail had been taken care of: arrival lists, transport from the International Airport to the Charles Borromeo Centre where our Brothers will be residing for the next five months, copies of the Orientation Program and schedules for every day of this introductory week and so forth.

The opening day, 7th August, was marked by two liturgy celebrations. The first one took place in the morning in the beautiful chapel of the Charles Borromeo Centre.

Brother Luis Garcia Sobrado, Vicar General, was delegated by Brother Superior General to mark the occasion. Sr. Torika, SM, and Brother Robert McGovern who has been a missionary in the Philippines for many years, made everyone feel the strong presence of the four Marist branches and of the Philippine FMS Province on the island of Mindanao where Davao is situated.

The prayer was patterned after a typical morning prayer. The reading of Jeremiah 1,4-10 inspired the prayer and the reflections of the participants. One of the more significant moments of this morning opening celebration was the procession by Continental groups, including the three members of the Orientation Team: four Brothers from Asia-Madagascar, five from the Americas, five from Europe, six from Asia/Oceania. Each one of the four groups carried a candle representing the four corners of the World. They were lit and placed on the altar around a bigger candle that represented Jesus Christ: Light to the Nations.

Sister Torika, Brother Luis G Sobrado and Brother Tim Leen (Director of the Orientation Sessions) delivered moving messages highlighting the historic meaning of this celebration and the wish that it all be very much in keeping with St. Marcellin?s spirit of ?If the Lord does not build the house??

The day offered ample time for informal talk among the Brothers. Many shared in different ways the experience of their offering themselves for the Mission Ad Gentes Project and the first experiences of traveling to Davao and finding their way about on tricycles and jeepneys.

In the evening the Opening Eucharistic celebration took place. It was presided by Marist Fr. Larry Duffy. The Gospel reading was deliberately chosen for the occasion: John 21, 15-19: ?Simon, do you love me??

On the whole, this first day of the first Orientation session for Missionary Brothers of the Asia Mission Ad Gentes Project was a day filled with the experience of fraternal mutual support and a prayerful day: a sense of something important beginning to happen and a sense of being totally in the hands of God.

This brief report could not be ended without a special word of thanks and congratulations to our three Brothers in the Orientation Team: Tim Leen, Roy Deita and Alfredo Herrera. Their sense of detail and organization as well as their fraternal warmth and care made this first day of the Orientation Session look like it all had happened many times before. Thank you, as well, to the brave seventeen first Missionary Brothers who took the challenge of being the pioneers in facing this new Marist venture.


Grace has not been fruitless in me...


Summary of a report from Br. Michael de Wass...