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2009 Retreats

09/02/2010: Guatemala

After living the wonderful experience of the General Chapter, which was a spur to new life for the Institute, and an encouragement to “go out in haste, with Mary, towards new lands”, lands of conversion and of fidelity to the Lord, it was necessary for the Province to live this retreat as a valuable corollary of all that rich experience at the Chapter.

Brother Provincial, knowing the riches and the needs of each age group of the brothers of the province, saw the need this year of organizing three groups for the retreats, based on the ages of the brothers. Two Teresian sisters, with much experience working with the Spanish program CONFER were the directors of these retreats. They were Sister Asunción Codes and Sister Teresa Gil.

The themes were rich and varied according to the age group.
I asked a brother who participated in each retreat to give us his impressions.

Retreat for the youngest brothers
Here is what Brother Juan Carlos Bolaños Vizcarra had to say about the retreat for the youngest brothers, those between 23 and 45. This retreat was held in San Salvador December 1-7.

In December 2009 we young brothers of Central America came together for the annual retreat, to reflect on and pray over the traits proper to this stage of life. We were more than 25 brothers and Marist Sisters, between the ages of 22 and45. The Hermitage retreat house in San Salvador, El Salvador, hosted us. Guiding our reflection were Sisters Asunción Codes and Teresa Gil (Teresians).
To slow down, grow still, listen, to see where I am, to get used to being… were, among others, the words that helped us during these days of grace; trying to contemplate our experiences deeply, looking at life from the heart.
This stage of life is a time of expanding horizons, growth, passion, desires. Facing reality, we are aware that only God can maintain our burning enthusiasm. And with Mary, we can set out on the road to “new lands”.
The retreat concluded with a special celebration of our 60 years as a province and with the renewal of temporary vows by 5 brothers. We want our vital contributions to the Marist charism in Central America and the Caribbean to be fruitful, sharing life and mission with our older brothers and with our lay associates.


Second retreat
Brother Hugo Salazar de la Rosa gives us his impressions of this retreat which was for those ages 46 to 65. It was held at the Marist Center of Formation in Guatemala.
“First of all, I must thank the Lord for the opportunity for a time of recollection and analysis to regain strength and set out on a new path.
Secondly, I think we were able to enjoy everything that was scheduled in this retreat:
* Conferences rich in content set up to invite us to do some serious reflection, reading and deep self-examining.
* Workshops for the different experiences of encounter, prayer, reflection and with the freedom needed for participation.
* Sufficient time for reflection to complement the readings and ample time for personal prayer.
* Daily exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, a very special time of summing up the day, of moving forward in one’s personal life project.
* It is important to recognize the sisters’ excellent preparation for the presentation of the themes and for directing the various activities.
* I think we all felt invited to go deeper into things, to a reflection on how we live in our communities. There is no doubt about the changes that we must face with the wisdom of a committed Christian and the different - but not for that antagonistic - visions of those in consecrated life. Still, we have total understanding of what the world hopes for, above all in our work with children and young people”.


“2009 twilight retreat”
Brother Eduardo Alburez Paredes, who was at the third retreat, for those ages 63 to 100, titled his brief report:
“Behold, I make all things new.” (Rev. 21:5)… The only thing unacceptable: “To put new wine in old wineskins”. The youngest brother on our retreat was Luis Elósegui, 63, and the oldest was Julián Goñi, 100, but we were all invited to change wineskins…
We spent the days in silence, prayer and Teresian mysticism, full of joy, full of life and overflowing with enthusiasm, directed and animated by Sisters Asunción Codes and Teresa Gil, religious of the Company of Teresa of Jesus.
The spiritual content of the retreat was in the heights and profound. The main themes were: “Here I am, Lord!” (1 Sam. 3:4)… “Now I make all things new.” (Rev. 21:5)… “A God who surprises us” (Lk. 12:29)… “Change our hearts” (Ez. 26:36)… “To be born again” (Jn. 3:7)… “Strength in weakness” (2 Cor. 12:10)… “The Answer is in your hands”.
“Doctrine is always ancient and always new; self-knowledge and conformity to the life of Christ, in the manner of Mary and Father Champagnat”.


In the way the three brothers told us of their own experience… And now, “with haste, with hope and joy, we propose to go forward with Mary, with Champagnat” towards that wondrous land of conversion, convinced of the reality of Jesus’ mandate: “You must be born again” and always disposed to opening ourselves to new church and congregational teaching, but with “new wineskins”.

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