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Colombia: Brother Formators of the Arco Norte Region in the Novitiate of Medellín

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Joint formation of Brothers and laity

21/10/2013: Colombia

Twelve brothers and 14 lay Marists from the three countries of the Province of « Norandina » came together, from 28 September to 5 October, in the beautiful and hospitable house of « Santa María de Bogotá », belonging to the Sister Slaves of the Sacred Heart :

·  Brothers : Javier Echeverri, Ismar Portilla, Nelson Cardona, Elber Peñuela and Eduardo Botero, of Colombia ; Carlos Moreno, Ireneo Conde, Carlos Regalado and Geovanni Velasco, of Ecuador ; Gerardo Relloso, Javier P. París and Pau Fornells, of Venezuela.

·  Laity : Francisco Murillo, Leonel Ramírez, Ivana Garzón, Ruth Calvache, Claudia Rojas, of Colombia ; Ituriano Maza, Moisés Beltrán, Artemisa Robles, Álex Martínez, Margarita Espinosa, of Ecuador ; María Torres, Carlos Pérez, Inés Alarcón et Marisol Mendoza, of Venezuela.

It was the first meeting organised in our Province of the joint formation of brothers and laity type. This is a formation experience where all are both masters and pupils ; the learning is consolidated to the extent that the participants share their life in the different processes of personal and community integration : faith, spirituality, mission, vocation… As one progresses, one discerns these experiences until arriving at the common or personal conclusions which help each one in his/her journey as a Champagnat Marist.

In the process of formation in our Marist mission, we were greatly helped by being able to visit in groups, the whole of one day, six missionary experiences directed towards poor children suffering from grave psycho-social and affective problems ; two of these took place in our Marist centres of La Paz and Sierra Morena, in Bogota. We were able to compare these experiences with the ones we are conducting in our places of origin and to enquire about the persons addressed, the different methodologies used for their integral education, and the personal and community living of the educators.

Our meeting was distinguished by fraternity and joy, deep sharing and reflection, thew search for consensus on the subject of the future of religious and lay Marist life. We discovered that our specific vocations are unequivocally, mutually enlightening and we are a constant source of wealth for each other. The needs of the children and young people inflame us and we dream of a Marist mission being increased and vigourously renewed among Brothers and Lay people (Cf. Gathered around the same table, open letter, p 101-2)

We are also joyful for the fact that, soon, other larger groups of brothers and lay Marists will be able to live experiences of joint formation in each of our three countries: Ecuador, Colombia and Venezuela, until one not too distant day this becomes an habitual practice in all the Marist presences of our Province of « Norandina ».

Thanks be to the God of Life for this opportunity, and thanks to all who collaborated to make this meeting possible. We are committed to continuing our growth in shared life, reflection, community prayer and Marist mission and to invite other persons to follow, in their turn, the footsteps of Jesus, Mary and Marcellin.

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