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Meeting of the formators of the Northern Arc

11/03/2010: Guatemala

Dear Brothers and lay Marists of Champagnat. With great joy we share with you our experience of the recent Vocations Ministry and Initial Formation Meeting of the Northern Arc (Canada, United States, Mexico, Central America -Cuba-, Venezuela, Colombia and Ecuador) held in the city of Guatemala from 7 to 12 February. It was a meeting of brothers during which we celebrated the life and the footsteps of God, of our Good Mother and of Marcellin Champagnat through our personal and provincial histories.

From Saturday the 6th we were arriving in the lands of Central America from our different places of origin. There were 26 of us from the Marist provinces of Canada, United States, Western Mexico, Central Mexico and Norandina. The communications we had previously had sent to us helped us focus our expectations on the following objectives:
• To meet and enrich one another from the diversity of experiences and contexts of our Northern Arc Region;
• To come close to a vision of the world as it is in relation to the reality of youth and their involvement in formation for Marist religious life;
• To clarify the task of formation in the light of the guidelines of the XXI General Chapter;
• To draw up proposals of action for the work of formation which depend on interprovincial support in the Region.

In the exchanges and the reflection in life groups and provinces we uncovered the challenges which the contexts and the reality of the world today, and specifically of the world of youth, pose for our formation processes. Under the guidance of Br. Roberto Clark, we studied the fourfold formation emphasis that we have to take into account for the integral formation of young men who are attracted by the charism of Champagnat and wish to commit their lives in the following of Jesus in the style of Mary. We were equally able to discover the three great religious visions of the cosmos in the world of today and the need for committed Marists who can integrate these three visions of the cosmos, generating a characteristic personal spirituality from interior silence and developing a “Montagne sensitivity”, fruit of Marcellin’s experience with the youth John Baptist Montagne.

Enlightened by Br. Ernesto Sánchez Barba (Councillor General), we went deeper into the calls of the XXI General Chapter in the areas of vocations ministry and initial formation. We shared the Letter from the General Chapter, which reminds us that “Brothers and laity share responsibility for seeking new Marist vocations”. Together with Ernesto, we shared the challenges posed by the document “Future Horizons” for formation: to press for the establishment of international houses of formation… to revise the programs of youth ministry, vocations ministry, initial and continuing formation, to help a better understanding of the identity of the Marist Brother in the world of today… to include in all formation programs the accompaniment of experiences encouraging sensitivity to the needs of poor children and youth… Working in provinces, we ventured to identify some central challenges for formation and the calls to which we are seeking to respond.

The proposals which surfaced and we were discerning will be presented to the Brother provincials and their councils and will continue to be a cause for reflection in our daily mission of accompaniment and formation of young Marists.

We are grateful to the Brothers of Central America who took on the challenge of organizing and developing this meeting. Thanks for the methodology proposed, for the reflection facilitated, for the questioning raised, for the work and discussions in the life and province groups, for allowing us to know the Marist life of the Marist Sisters of Champagnat, for welcoming us and making us feel like brothers. Heartfelt thanks for once more giving substance to the saying that “where I have a brother, there I have a home.”

And we return to our provinces in the hand of Mary, who leads us to a new land. With Mary, new Marists to a new land.

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