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Meeting of the 4 General Marist Councils

30/01/2013: France - Photo gallery

The words of the late Pope John Paul II to the four Marist Family Branches on 17th September 2001 still resound in the life and animation of the four respective general councils today. Here are the Pontiff’s words at Castelgandolfo:

“You have chosen consecrated life in the Church, following Mary in fidelity both to your founders’ intuitions and to the charism of your institutes…
Today yours is the call to make the presence of the Blessed Virgin Mary visible in the life of the Church and in the life of men and women in an original and specific way and, for this, to develop a Marian attitude.  Her presence is distinguished by a joyful availability to the call of the Holy Spirit, by an unshakable confidence in the Word of the Lord, by spiritual growth in relation to the various mysteries of Christ’s life and by a motherly attentiveness to the needs and sufferings of people, especially of those who are smallest”…

This year for the first time, the four general councils met at the Hermitage with the objective of sharing on how the intuitions and charism of our founders are lived today. In addition to places like La Valla and L’Hermitage that speak to us and persons like Jean Claude Colin, Marcellin Champagnat, Jeanne Marie Chavoin, Marie Françoise Perroton and their “marvelous companions”, to motivate the sharing, each Superior General prepared a presentation taking into account the following guideline:

1. What was the original dream or our branch?
2. How this was incarnated in the day of our Founder, Foundress, Pioneers?
3.  How do we apply it and what is its relevance today?

These are questions that every Marist can answer in his or her own capacity.

At the origin of the founding experiences of our Founders there is a passion for Jesus and his gospel, community life and willingness to proclaim to the whole world what they have experienced. What M. Champagnat meant saying that “All the dioceses of the world enter into our views” was shared by the other founders. These are the three dimensions that are the pillars of our identity: passion for Jesus, fraternity and compassion that leads to action for the needy and suffering people, especially children and youth.

The role of lay people and lay associations, in Marist history was strongly highlighted. From the very beginnings, they have been members, either as a third order or as close associates, always reminding us the contemplative dimension of our identity and our mission to evangelize boldly.

The community of the Hermitage, composed of Brothers and Lay Marists, made us feel at home, not only with the organization of transport and the hospitality culture that they are developing, but also with their attentive presence.  Being with them was another occasion of learning.

A time spent with Joan Puig-Pey, the architect, helped to understand the structure of the Hermitage and La Valla, a reflect of what is fundamental and that must be kept and what newness must be integrated to make our Institute more appealing to young generations.

A pilgrimage at Fourvière, another place that speaks to the Marist Family, helped us to celebrate the Eucharist in the Chapel of our Lady of Fourvière and to pledge to continue building a Marian Church and World, as did Fathers Colin, Champagnat and their companion priests in 1816.

After the Eucharist, we were warmly welcomed at the Provincial House in Lyon. Brothers Maurice Berquet, the Provincial, André Thizy, the community animator, the entire community and the commission for vocations made us feel at home. We enjoyed the French “Haute Cuisine”.

We concluded our pilgrimage, happy for having touched the signs of a man of unshakable faith, of perseverant audacity and a heart without borders. Though with open questions for all of us Marists: What are we for in our world today? What are we passionate for? What are we seeing that is new?

_________________
Brother Eugène Kabanguka
John Hannan, Superior General - Marist Fathers (Doing Mary’s Work)

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