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Advent and Marist Solidarity 2009

28/11/2009: General House

It has been said that a General Chapter is an important moment in the life of the Institute. It is a time for reflection on the past, reading and interpreting the “signs of the times” and setting a new direction for the future. In September, delegates from every Marist province and district gathered in Rome to do just that and to elect a new leadership team to take us forward for the next eight years.
In the lead up to the General Chapter, FMSI looked for a way to include the voices of young people in the deliberations of the chapter. We thought it was important that during this 20th Anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, children and young people have a chance to react to the General Chapter’s theme: New Hearts for a New World.

The strategy we chose was to hold a photo exhibition. FMSI invited children and young people from around the world to send us their reflections on A NEW WORLD. We also asked them to send us a photograph of themselves and a photograph that represented their ideas of a New World. The exhibition remained open during the entire chapter. More than a few took the time to visit the exhibition. We believe the photo exhibition provided “food for thought” as the delegates went about their chapter deliberations.

With the chapter now behind us, we thought it would be a good idea to use these reflections as the basis for this year’s Advent Reflection Booklet. In a very real way, this year’s booklet, besides connecting us with the theme of XXI General Chapter, is also a souvenir of the New World photo exhibit FMSI held at the General House during the General Chapter.

AdventThe photo exhibit, and now this Advent Reflection Text, also commemorate another important event which has had a significant effect on the lives of children and young people all around the world. This year is the 20th Anniversary of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, the international human rights treaty detailing the rights all children and young people living on the planet are meant to enjoy. It is an opportune time for all governments who signed the treaty and for all people who work with children and young people to recommit to the promotion of the rights enshrined in the treaty.

To help you become more familiar with the treaty regarding child rights, we’ve included a summary of those rights as they are listed in the Convention on the Rights of the Child at the end of this booklet. We encourage you to read the full text of the treaty during Advent. You can find the full text of the treaty and its two protocols, one dealing with children in armed conflict, and the other dealing with the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography, on the website of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.

Each day of Advent, as you reflect on the liturgical readings of the day and what young people have to say to us about the new world they hope to see one day, take a moment to recommit yourself to the promotion of the rights of the child where you are—within a family, a community, a school, a center for children at risk, your place of work, your neighborhood, your country.

Children have rights …not because they are children …not because they are little …not because they are young, but because they are human beings. If anything, because they are children, because they are little, because they are young, we have a responsibility to see that that their rights are protected, promoted, and enjoyed.

I pray you all have a spirit-filled Advent season, a peaceful Christmas, and an abundance of God’s blessings in the New Year.
Sincerely,
______________
Br. Dominick Pujia
President, emeritus

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