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Marist Calendar - November

The young people of Arco Norte meet in Guatemala



Meeting of the General Council with the young people of Arco Norte (1)

17/11/2008: Guatemala - Photo gallery

The meeting of young people of Arco Norte with Brother Seán Sammon, Superior General and his Council, took place from 8-13 November 2008, in RUM (the Marist University Residence), known by the brothers of Central America as the former Juniorate and Scholasticate. Now this property, located in the centre of the city of Guatemala, is the Provincial Residence, It is from this centre the pastoral work is animated and from where all provincial solidarity is organized; a retreat house and residence for the elderly brothers. This meeting with the young people of Arco Norte was the last meeting of this type held by the General Council during its mandate. This event followed the Enlarged General Council of Arco Norte in Guadalajara.

At the conclusion of the visit of the General Councillors to the region of Arco Norte, which consists of the Provinces of Canada, United State of America, Central and Western Mexico, Central America and Norandina, Brother Superior General and his Council wished to listen to the young people, to reflect on the situation of the young people in this region of the Marist world and to share their Christian commitment in the face of the challenges that found in their own countries as well as reflecting on the Marist vocation of brothers and lay people who share the same mission. The meeting was coordinated and facilitated by the Bureau of Vocations of the General Council with the collaboration of the delegates for vocations of each Province.

The group consisted of seventy people, of whom twenty were Marist brothers, animators of the youth groups or pastoral groups. Women made up a third part of the group. Among them was Sister Veronica, Marist Sister of Champagnat, a Salvadorian, who took part in the meeting with the other young people. The greatest representation came from Central America with 18 participants. And the ages of the young people varied between 20 and 30. The languages used at the meeting were Spanish, French and English, with the young people themselves facilitating the service of translation with some support from brothers.

In the course of 8th November, the participants began to arrive at Marist House which is an annexe to the Provincial Residence of Guatemala, coming from their respective countries, by air or by bus. Brother Nicéforo Garrán, of the Province of Central America, assisted by a team of brothers, organized the welcome of the visitors. Day 9 was set aside to discussing some of the Marist work of the Province of Central America. The young people were taken by bus to Chichicastenango, a Marist work entirely dedicated to the indigenous people, where they were able to share this educational work with the male and female students throughout the whole day. It was an excellent opportunity to get to know and to integrate with the group.

The diversity of languages, cultures and countries were no obstacle and from the very beginning there existed an atmosphere of cordiality, joy and simplicity. The Marist charism was the basic experience which stimulated the life of the group and which helped to overcome any difficulties of language or culture. The welcome of the brothers and lay people of Central America, attentive to the smallest detail, facilitated a family meeting from the very beginning.

The meeting was opened by Bro. Luís Sobrado García, Vicar General. He introduced his intervention by thanking the young people for having accepted the invitation to participate in this meeting. Our tasks as members of the General Council do not allow us to be in direct and constant contact with young people, Brother Luís said, “that is why this is a privileged space for the General Council to listen to what the young people of this Marist region feel . And he continued: We are here to take part in a beautiful and deep experience of fraternity and intimacy. We want to connect with you to find out the reality of lives lived in a more and more international world and to deepen our realisation of God’s call. You have been chosen to come here. You have been chosen to help the members of the General Council to share your experiences of the mission which we carry out together. This meeting took place within the vision that the General Council has of encouraging the internationality and multiculturalism of the Institute among the young people.

Each of the Councillors went on to talk about some recollections and outstanding ideas from the other meetings held by the General Council with young people in different parts of the world. The first one held in Sigüenza (Spain) in 2005. This was followed by one in the region of Africa in Nairobi (2006). In 2007 one was held in the Philippines for the Region of Asia. The young people of the region of the Pacific met in Sydney (Australia) the week before the World Meeting of Youth with the Pope. And recently (2008) one was held in Luján (Argentina) which was a gathering of the young people from Brazil and Cono Sur. The meeting of the young people of Arco Norte in Guatemala (2008) brought to a close this type of experience of the General Council, in accordance with their mandate.

Following this historical journey, in which each Councillor highlighted some of the most important characteristics taken from each of the previous meetings, the participants came together to represent their own particular Marist Provinces. The representatives of the Province of Canada highlighted the activities of their summer camps and their work with street children. The group from the Province of the United States of America highlighted, through their description of the young people of their country, the break up of the family, the rise in the cost of studies and the growing interest of the young people in spirituality, alongside the growing indifference or rejection of religions. Western Mexico, in its turn, highlighted the diversity of the origins of the members of the group, its work in the field of solidarity and youth promotion through diverse movements of youth pastoral or of the missions. Central Mexico underlined the complex problems faced by young Mexican people and some of the responses made by the Marists through diverse movements of youth pastoral. Central America in its presentation to the young people at the meeting highlighted the multiculturalism and the existing diversity in the countries which make up that Province as well as the incidence of war and violence in the life of the young people. The young people representing the countries making up the Province of Norandina mentioned the problems that the young people of those countries experience. They mentioned poverty, family break up, marginalisation and violence, and the need to maintain the presence of the Marist brothers amongst the young people as a valid answer to these problems.

Brother Hipólito, Provincial of Central America, on his return from Mexico, where he had taken part in the meeting of the Enlarged General Council, directed to all of the young people some words of welcome and greeting on behalf of all the brothers of the Province of Central America.

The afternoon session was devoted to sharing in groups, each group joined by a General Councillor, the feelings generated by the situation of the young people of each Province in each other’s life. Each one of the participants had the opportunity to explain the Montagne experiences they had experienced and the challenges that these experiences raised.

The work session ended in the chapel with a prayer in front of a great map of America made up of elements from nature. The prayer was centred on a parade of faces that brought back the painful reality that surrounds us and raises questions and calls in our lives. Some large sheets helped to illustrate the intentions of each person’s prayer. This ended with the Salve directed to Mary.

The final part of the day was a celebration in which each Province demonstrated the folklore and cultural values of each country represented at the meeting. Song, dance, tequila, and traditional sweets added flavour to the party.

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