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West-Central Europe Provincial Assembly

14/05/2008: Belgium

The Province of West Central Europe held an Assembly in Barvaux, Belgium, from 18 – 20 April on the theme of Partnership between Brothers and Laity: It was attended by 13 lay people and 21 Brothers, two of the latter being guest speakers. Br Pau Fornells of the Bureau of Laity in Rome delivered a paper on the general theme of the Assembly, “Marists Together”. Br César Henríquez , BIS representative, based in Geneva, gave a power-point address on his work in defence of the Rights of Children at the United Nations and extended an invitation for us to come and visit his three-man Marist community in Geneva.

Br.Pau, in his address, pointed out that this movement to integrate the laity into the life and charism of religious congregations was something new in the Church and was not confined to our own institute. He felt that the main challenge facing the future of the Marist charism is to find a fresh way of understanding the concept of vocation as pertaining to the lay person.

The whole question of an ever-closer partnership between brothers and laity was also dealt with in small discussion groups and plenary sessions. Dominant themes that emerged were Spirituality, Charism, Mission, Formation and Communication, themes which clearly call for further attention and discussion.

These themes were carried forward into each day’s beautifully prepared prayer services and Eucharist, centred around the “Champagnat table”, a powerful image of sharing.

Each day ended with a social gathering where the Marist family spirit that we have all become so familiar with was experienced at its best.

Finally, the Assembly was brought to a close by the Provincial, Br Joe McKee, as he expressed his hope for a bright future for this “partnership” initiative. He concluded by thanking all the participants, especially the preparatory commission – Frank Aumeier, Jacques Delen, Bernice Reintjens and Robert Thunus.

A fuller report on the above Assembly will soon be available

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