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Letter to the participants in the Nairobi Seminar on Marist Spirituality

31/10/2008: Kenya - Photo gallery

From September 18 to 31, a group of lay people and brothers gathered in Nairobi to take part in a course led by Brothers Teófilo Minga and Pau Fornells. The main goal of the pro-gram is to prepare lay people who are active within Marist Brother apostolic works. The course is focusing on Marist spirituality. There are twenty-two participants, and twelve African countries are represented. Below you may find the letter sent by Brother Peter Rodney (General Councilor and Religious Life Commission Chairman) to the participants of the workshop.

To each of you gathered in Nairobi, greetings from Rome.
For some years the General Council has had a dream. We have wanted to gather together Marists from all across Africa and to offer to them an opportunity to deepen their spirituality, especially the Marist dimension of it. It has taken us years, much preparatory work, postponements, but finally the workshop has occurred, and is now about to conclude.

Br.Seán and the General Council are grateful to each of you, who have set aside commitments, both of family and of work, to be present for this workshop. We are highly appreciative of the skills, dedication, and deep spirituality of the Team that has shepherded you through these days. We wish to thank publically: Brothers Teófilo, Pau, Mario and Christian. Without the support of our Brothers in Nairobi, your workshop would not have been possible. To them, the General Council offers our gratitude. Without the financial support of Missio - Aachen, your workshop would not have taken place. With deep thanks, we acknowledge their generosity and commitment to spiritual formation in Africa.

In the past days, in praying for your workshop, I have kept coming back to the story of the disciples on the road to Emmaus [Luke 24: 13-35]. It is a very human story; the emotions of which are often our own. The disciples began their journey somewhat confused and lost. Maybe that was how you felt when you were selected for this workshop and arrived in Nairobi. Maybe you were puzzled that, of all people, you had been chosen. Probably you were a little confused about what you were doing here, and not a little anxious about what was being expected of you on your return home.

As the days of the workshop unfolded, you probably discovered that Jesus (and Mary and Marcellin) were in your midst. In the form of each other.- as you shared your own experience and spirituality. While the leaders of the workshop probably did the majority of the sharing, did you not also discover other Marists in your midst. For the disciples at Emmaus it was in the breaking of bread that they recognised Jesus. For yourselves there would have been many different moments in which you discovered other Marists, and felt a sense of connection to them. What we call the spirit of the Marist family. Luke tells us the eyes of the disciples were “opened”. Maybe that has been your experience also: you have seen a much wider world – a Marist world – with a rich spirituality, and ministries in which wonderful things happen every day for thousands of African young people. Maybe your eyes have been opened to the spirituality and mission that are shared by Marist Brothers and Marist Lay people together – each with a distinct and complimentary role and responsibility.

At the conclusion of the Emmaus story, the disciples described how their “hearts burned within them” because of their meeting. They then rushed back to Jerusalem to share with the other disciples what they had experienced. This is my prayer for you. I pray that the sharing together during the past days has caused your hearts to burn with a sense of personal connection to Marist spirituality and connection to fellow Marists. I hope the workshop has led you to the point of really wanting to share this rich experience with others.

When the Emmaus disciples returned to Jerusalem, they did not do big things – they simply shared their story. They did not teach. They did not instruct. And the response to that sharing? Others replied: we agree with you, because you are describing our experience as well. It was not a matter of one group teaching another. But rather one group sharing their experience, putting it into words. It was these words that spoke to other people, because the words were true for them also.

May all that you have planned - be blessed. May your words find a resonance in the lives of Marists in your Province, in your community, in your school. May your words open other eyes, and cause other hearts to ‘burn’.

Jesus, who was in the midst of the Emmaus disciples, will be with you. St.Marcellin and the First Brothers, whose spirituality you are sharing, will be with you. With the name Marist, we know that Mary, Our Good Mother, will do all that she can for her family. She also will be with you.

With my fraternal prayers and best wishes

Br. Peter Rodney
Religious Life Commission Chairman

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