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AMAG - Ad Gentes - News Brief - N. 22


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09/10/2012: Thailand


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Dear Brothers and Lay Missionaries,

We began the first of our cluster retreats for 2012 at the Salesian Retreat House with our friends from China and Davao. The venue was at the Cheung Chau Isle, located about half an hour off the coast of Hong Kong by speed boat, Cheung Chau is part of the so called “Hong Kong Territories”!

The second one will commence on the 26th of August in Bangkok for Vietnam, Thailand and Cambodia. The third one will take place in Dhaka (Bangladesh) and will start on the 24th of October. These retreats have a central theme and purpose: to prepare our hearts and minds for a discerning dialogue with God and with one another.

On the first day of our retreat, we reflected on the graces that we would ask of our good Lord for this re-treat. In conclusion, we asked for the grace of cultivating attitudes that will allow us to enter into a discernment process; hoped that this discernment will lead us as individuals, communities, countries and sector into a commun-ion of vision and hearts for the AMAG mission and projects

The AMAG Council and the AMAG Spirituality Commission have spent a good number of hours and energy reading through the Circulars and letters of Brothers Sean and Emili, the two latest General Chapter Documents and some chosen books and articles. We also went back to Brother Charles Howard’s circular on discernment and found it inspiring. Our aim was to prepare two written documents: Firstly, to facilitate the discernment retreats; Secondly, to offer a good instrument of work for the meetings in the communities and in countries that will follow after the cluster retreats.

Paco, one of our missionaries in Talit (West Bengal – India) who is a member of the Spirituality Commission and I are facilitating these days of intense personal and community prayer as well as sharing. We have taken the first of the AMAG Council documents and we are following it step by step. It is beginning to prove an effective tool in opening the hearts of those participating in this Cheung Chau retreat to the grace of discernment.

And speaking about the importance of discernment, allow me to share a recent experience. While visiting the Provincial House of the Maryknoll Missionaries on Stanley Hill, Hong Kong, I had the chance of meeting Brother Bob – an American Maryknoll Brother. He spent a good numbers of years as a missionary in Africa, twenty of them in Egypt. For the duration of all those years he served mostly as a builder and engineer. He left a good number of church buildings, hospitals and schools standing in different countries in Africa. At seventy, he returned to America with a rather weak health and wondered whether it was the end of his years of active service as a Maryknoll Brother. His health eventually improved before the end of the year, during which his Superior General, was inviting people to move to China. Brother Bob volunteered and moved in as a tourist and stayed there for a month. He found a missionary group working with lepers and they offered him work training locals to make shoes for lepers. Brother Bob returned to the USA and took up a three-month course in shoe-making. Subsequently, he returned to CN and for the past 13 years has trained over a thousand shoe-makers to produce the kind of shoes that have re-markably improve lepers’ ability to walk. Brother Bob has been providing this form of service on a tourist visa, and every month, he takes a train to Hong Kong, renews his tourist visa for another month and goes back.It took that kind of “discernment in action”, as Brother Charles calls it, for Bob to move where he moved and to stay where he stays!

May our good Mother and St. Marcellin grant us all the wisdom and courage for these discernment retreats to become effective spaces to align our actions with the powerful actions of God!

Good reading to you all!


Luiz Sobrado

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