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Programme for middle-aged Marists aims at ‘re-enchanting their calling,’ says coordinator

 

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Post Perpetual Gier Program seeks to encourage Brothers

28/08/2015: General House

A course aimed at Marist brothers in their 30s and 40s is hoping to see them through difficult times, according to one of the organisers.

“We felt there was a need for some input at this age group since it’s a moment in many brothers’ lives where they’ve had a war with big questions of sustainability with consecrated life,” said Brother Tony Leon, one of the programme’s organisers.

“I think it’s normal because statistics say it’s a difficult time in marriage after seven to 10 years so this is meant to re-enchant their original sense of calling and to understand that Marist consecrated life today has a very exciting prospect of possibilities,” he said on Aug. 26.

Twenty brothers are taking part in the first course ever geared towards those in their middle ages, known as the ‘Post Perpetual Gier Program.’

The five-week programme began on Aug. 13 in the general house in Rome. After two weeks, the brothers will visit L’Hermitage in France before returning to Rome for the final week.

“Hopefully, this course will get them to think that this isn’t as good as it gets, the best is yet to come so we need to have our perceptions shattered,” said Br Tony, also director of the ‘Brothers Today’ secretariat.

He underscored that “religious life is going beyond our nationality, congregation and even beyond our faith,” reflecting on the work the Marists do side by side with Muslims in Lebanon and in Syria as well as with Buddhists in other parts of the world.

“We’re only discovering this in terms of internationality, ‘inter-culturality’, ‘inter-congregationality,’ and the communities of brothers and lay,” Br Tony remarked. “The new international communities is an artwork still in the process of being created.”

“It’s going very well, the brothers have expressed a real sense of privilege to be the first of this programme,” he told the general house press office.

The secretariat of Brothers Today as well as the formation teams from Manziana, Italy, and El Escorial, Spain, are leading the programme.

“It’s been a privilege to be here participating with brothers of different cultures,” said Brother Rajakumar Soosaimanickam. “There is a richness of diversity which I enjoy very much.”

“(The course) is about understanding ourselves and preparing ourselves to live in international communities,” added Br Rajakumar, who travelled from India.

For many of the brothers, this marks their first trip to Europe and to the home of the Institute’s founder, Saint Marcellin Champagnat, in France.

“It will be my first time in France so I am looking forward to see the table and bed he used,” said Br Odo Nathaniel Uchenna, who lives in Nigeria. “I’m longing for that visit in order to nourish my spirituality.”

Archbishop Jorge Patrón Wong (in the centre of the picture), who is secretary for seminaries of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Clergy, visited the group on Aug. 26.

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