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A letter to the Central Commission

 

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Continuing the search

18/09/2009: General House

A letter to the Central Commission

The day opened with time dedicated to “lectio divina”. The word of God, incarnate in life, is food for the spirit on the journey. The Mendes document reminded the capitulants of the steps in communion the Institute has taken in recent years. Brothers and laity have come together for the spiritual life journey, driven by the call of vocation to share the same charismatic gifts. Thus began the morning session of 18 September.

To provide a change from the activities usually taking place in the chapter hall, Brother Tony Leon presented a stimulating dynamic. “My name is Tony and I teach art in school”. Thus he introduced himself to the capitulants. Tony is the one who has decorated the chapter hall with a red cross, the pictures of Champagnat and Mary, etc. “We are going to do a practical exercise to change our way of seeing things”. He distributed to the capitulants one sheet of white paper and another of gold with a drawing in the upper half representing Mary on her visit to her cousin Elizabeth. “In two minutes you have to draw in the lower half what you see in the drawing in the upper half of the paper”. The proposal was greeted with laughter by all present. In two minutes the exercise was concluded with reasonably acceptable results. Some received a high mark and the congratulations of the rest. The second part of the activity consisted in doing the same exercise, this time on the gold paper, but placing the original head down. To the great surprise of all, the majority of pupils had improved their results. The artist disappeared from the scene, leaving them to work out the moral.

Continuing the search

The Central Commission resumed work by saying that there were many common points shared in the consensus, but that they had not yet defined exactly what the chapter assembly felt and wanted. It was necessary to continue dialogue about the contributions made in the hall. To begin the day’s dialogue, it was proposed that the table secretaries share with the members of their table what they had heard at the meeting of the secretaries the previous evening. As well, a member of the Central Commission explained to the assembly what they had learned at the same meeting. Each table also had at hand the written document with the contributions which the tables had sent to the secretaries’ meeting.

In the second session, the Commission changed tactics. They made a hypothetical proposal of what could be a written expression of the call they were all looking for. The formula was this: “Come quickly, Marists of Champagnat, my children need you today. You will meet me there and Mary will tell you what you have to do”. The Central Commission asked the capitulants to indicate the values contained in this hypothetical formula of the fundamental call. The dialogue lasted twenty minutes. The reactions to the proposal were mixed, but, as a whole, proposals to improve it were numerous. Some nuanced the word used, the attitude of Mary which they gathered from this expression, declared it was necessary to emphasize evangelization more, etc. Others emphasized contributions or deficiencies in the formula.

After listening to the reactions of the tables, it was time for interventions from the floor. Those who spoke emphasized that some images were emerging, which could serve as references for drawing up the fundamental call, a call which has to be collective, for the whole Institute, not just for the individual.

A journey towards the second century of the foundation of the Institute

The afternoon session began with a show of consensus on six elements which have appeared in all the dialogues: conversion; new hearts, new earth; urgency and call to move; mission to poor children and youth; brothers and laity together, and the Marian aspect.
On receiving the hall’s confirmation on these elements, the Central Commission provided the following motivation: “We are beginning an imaginary journey towards 2016. It is the year for the next General Chapter. The Institute has been through a process of renewal, of transformation. It has lived the values proposed by the 21st General Chapter. As many brothers as lay people have responded to the calls to go and meet poor children and young people. Working together, praying together, the Congregation has expanded. Jesus is the centre of our lives. Mary is intimately present among us. You have received a message from the Preparatory Commission of the 22nd General Chapter. They want to know how you have lived the challenges laid down by the 21st Chapter. Not only how you have faced them, but how you have carried them out and what means you have used.
It is 6 June. The years have passed. Elections to the chapter have been held and you come back to meet at the same tables as at the 21st Chapter. Each table is asked to compose a letter to the Central Commission indicating the more important achievements of the Province and what was done to make them a reality”.

The Central Commission’s work proposal for the afternoon is formulated thus: “Your task as a table is to write this “Letter to the Central Commission” to be presented tomorrow in the first working session. It is not a question of a long text; one side of a sheet maximum”.

In many groups, time was lacking to draw up this letter about the road they need to run to enter into celebrating the second centenary of the foundation of the Institute with a new heart.

Family Fiesta

It is Friday, the day fixed for celebrating whatever anniversaries have occurred during the week. On this occasion, the independence days of Central America, Mexico, Papua-New Guinea and Chile, and the birthdays of Fernando Larrambebere, of Cruz del Sur, and Albert Nzabonaliba, Central East Africa. Brother Sean took advantage of the occasion to present a beautiful image of Mary of the Annunciation to each of the lay participants, who are on the eve of departure.

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