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First Mission Assembly of the Province Cruz del Sur

27/05/2008: Argentina - Photo gallery

With the expectations which attend every new adventure, -spontaneity, joy, difficulties too- the meeting of Brothers and laity took place in the city of Luján at the feet of the Virgin Mary. The purpose of the gathering was to create opportunities for dialogue and for the sharing of experiences, for bringing forward ideas regarding the direction which the Province and District have been taking. The basis of the exchange was twofold: the Mendes document and the general Province outlook.

The participants came from all the Marist Brother apostolates in Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay. Around sixty apostolic works and organizations sent representatives, ready to accept the challenge of allowing themselves to be caught up once again in the beautiful gift which is the Marist mission. That is, to nourish the deep sources from which the mission springs and to be capable of imparting such sources to those who are working with us in every apostolic undertaking.

After the usual sign-up process, the participants went to the hall to begin the Assembly. Accompanied with songs of joy, the place of honor was given to the Blessed Virgin, as represented by three Mary images, one image for each of the three countries concerned. The meeting hall was decorated with the flags of the nations in question, and the Marial images were situated in a part of the hall which had been covered with soil, to symbolize a field prepared for the sowing. Brother Demetrio’s comments led into a short exercise aimed at getting out in the open what each person was hoping for from the Assembly.

The afternoon’s theatre presentation featured the appeals of children and young people to which our Province’s Marist mission, in its various forms, attempts to respond. Then began some personal work. Each participant was to make an effort to discover at close hand the countenances, the stories of the children and young people living in the places from which the participants had come. After a break, the gathering divided into small groups, twelve persons in each. The goal was to share ideas on the topic of identity - Who are we? - drawing upon (a) the appeals which each member of the group hears in the place each one works and (b) the manner in which we are responding to the appeals.

This step brought out how rich our mission is. During the evening Eucharist, each delegation brought forward a plant in bloom, the plant coming from the part of the “apostolic garden” in which the delegation works. The plant was placed before the Marian images. The Eucharist was the natural way to close out a intense day of work.

Friday morning’s topic was our history: that of our apostolic works and of the people who, over so many years of toil, of apostolate, of service, have come to mark the personality of each of our missions. Then, in small groups, all were encouraged to express individually their feelings on the preceding “contemplation of history”. During the private work which followed, all had the opportunity to recall the way their Marist vocation began, how it developed and what motivates its forward movement, recalling those factors which made me aware of being Marist . . . reviewing mentally the happy moments, the sad ones, the resurrections (the Easters of my Marist life) . . . pondering the fire which burns within my heart this very day, the reasons which I find within myself for continuing, first of all to believe and secondly to bank on the future . . . . The evening Eucharist got under way in front of two symbols, one of the human heart and the other of fire. The setting, night time as it was, brought out the celebratory character of what was happening.

Saturday began on the theme of «abra» the passageway between hills, which allows one to see what lies ahead and makes easier the entry into a new region or, in our case, into a new dimension of mission. The day’s symbol is water which brings life.

The morning got under way with one hour of personal work. We were able to pause in front of various “angles” of the Institute’s documents, e.g. the Calls of the XXth General Chapter, the Mendes document, and the Province’s Horizon document. The “angle” provided a space for a prayerful, meditative reading of the document concerned. A guide served to bring to light what each person was feeling in regard to the challenges and the personal invitations which God was making.

In the afternoon, there was a presentation of the broad themes which had been raised during the morning session: formation, educational approaches, giving attention to the least favored, administration, spirituality, and involvement in public policy making.
Group activities during the afternoon aimed at preparing suggestions for action plans to deal with the issues which had surfaced.

The early hours of Sunday heralded the last act of the Assembly as well as the opportunity of attend the perpetual profession of Brother Jorge Walder. The closing ceremony of the Assembly took place in the morning. Both Brothers and lay people were able to offer their views about the work of the organizing team and the accomplishments of the Assembly. The positive and calm spirit in which the views were offered was the optimal confirmation that a new era is at hand, an era which carries with it the possibilities of growth: shared mission and better understanding of projects which are shared by laity and Brothers of Cruz del Sur. The participants also made a written evaluation of the Assembly.

At the feet of the Virgin of Luján, Brothers and lay people shared both life and spirituality over a period of four days. The purpose was to put together a series of realizable proposals regarding the mission they share in various Province works, and to envision a way of integrating the proposals into the workings of the Province.

_______________
Br. Eduardo Gatti
Provincial Secretary

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