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1st Meeting of Presences and Social Programmes in Marist Europe (II)

08/11/2005: Spain - Photo gallery

Guardamar, 31st October 2005. AMEstaún.
This second edition of the 1st Meeting of presences and Social Programmes in Marist Europe is dedicated to the contributions of the four presenters who spoke at the meeting.

Brother Benito Arbués
The first talk was given by Brother Benito Arbués, former Superior General of the Institute, concerning the attention given by Father Champagnat to the most neglected and the Marist Educational Mission in Europe.
He opened his reflection with a question: Is service and attention to the poor essential for the Institute? This question gave cause to a double-sided reflection for the group.

In the first place, the presenter revealed a personal concept of what he understands by the poor and poverty, emphasising that poverty is a source of blessings in the Gospel that highlights it as a sign of the coming of the Kingdom of God. And for so many there is a struggle against all that degrades the person and reduces his or her dignity. There are many types of poverty, generally interpreted as “deficiencies” in things that they have and in this sense they are interpreted as being a “misfortune”. But the poor also have values and “riches” that the rich do not have. And in this sense, claimed the presenter, the poor must not deny their being poor. But they have to be conscious of the damage that poverty can produce and change this existential situation.
From the most effective educational perspective, according to Brother Benito, is to be together with the poor and to be with them to discover as much their existential situation as their values.
The second part of his reflection focussed on the vision of the poor and poverty from Champagnat’s perspective. He started by claiming that poverty and the poor have been a concern of the Institute since its beginning, but the brothers have not always given sufficient respect to the needs that have been presented. Starting from the claim that “without history there is no prophetic life” he returned to some documents of the first Rules and the first General Chapters to show the importance that was given to poverty and the poor in the Institute.
The talk concluded by inviting those present to “contemplate the world and act” as much “from special programmes as from school programmes”. He invited those present “to be creative in order to find financial and management formulas” but warned them of the danger of “being managers without being involved in the works”.
He left everyone with serious questions concerning how to look at and contemplate the world of those most in need highlighting the fact that “having so many programmes” is a richness, but emphasising that the current programmes “will be of a short duration and will not see the celebration of their centenary” given that they have to be more flexible in order to give creative responses to new needs.

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