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Meeting of Mixed Communities

06/03/2008: Spain

On the weekend of February 16-17, 2008, a first meeting of Mediterranea Province’s mixed communities took place at our Castilleja de la Cuesta residence.
Brother Provincial came to the meeting on Saturday morning. His words served to stir in us a new enthusiasm to continue along the path of discovery and innovation. Not for nothing did the 20th General Chapter speak of widening the tent to make place for lay people.

We are aware that there are discordant voices which do not support these shared, community experiences between Brothers and lay people. Brother Provincial himself commented on the matter. The opinions in question, however, trouble us less that does the desire to live out a shared Marist spirituality. The breath of the Spirit is at work, and our only wish is to faithful to the Spirit’s movement. Nor are we concerned about what the outcome of such community experiences may be in the near or distant future.

The same Spirit knows the best way in which to blaze new pathways for the Congregation and the Church. We spoke about our various community projects and about what has transpired along the road each community has traveled. We see quite clearly that there are plural forms and structures that, each in its own way, bring new riches. Nothing is definite or finished. We are a community on the march . . . . The lay people in attendance have a very clear sense that they have not chosen to be in community with any particular Brother. Their choice has been made rather by the desire to live Champagnat’s spirituality along with the Brothers. Even if we see clearly that there is one shared vocation - to make Jesus Christ known and loved - yet we bring special attention to the specific vocation of each. That is, to the need for private areas of life, for the Brothers on the one hand and for the lay people on the other.

The fact that women and children are present in the community experience adds a distinctive quality of family and home. Needless to say, the quality was present in the experience we had together.

The communities which attended were those of Magdalena (Jaén), Campico de Alcantarilla (Murcia), Oliva (Seville) and Suerte de Saavedra (Badajoz). In addition four other lay persons had asked to join the group for the meeting and, in fact, participated fully in it.

Besides the desire to continue such meetings, a commitment was made in the course of the meeting. The commitment is threefold: to offer a place in our communities to dedicated lay people, to work on new ways of carrying our vocation ministry and to work on issues of appropriate compensation.

Bro. Antonio Marín Alba

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