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Summary of the year of spirituality activities

16/03/2009: Spain

During the Year of Spirituality, the Brothers of the Mediterránea Province organized a variety of activities to help us grow in this most important aspect of our life. We joined in prayer with the entire Institute at the opening and at the closing of the Year. We also launched formation sessions and courses for Brothers and laity. The publication of Water from the Rock was a great help in deepening our spirituality.

Following are some of the activities we found helpful:

1. Community Project. Spirituality was the central theme of our 2007–2008 community life project. So the Provincial Commission on Community Life offered some materials: the second chapter of Water from the Rock and Spirituality in the Documents of the Institute. With shared reflection on these documents and, taking the Provincial Plan for the Year of Spirituality as a starting point, each community designed its objectives and methods to promote community life for the year, emphasizing spirituality.

2. Formation Courses. If the Year of Spirituality meant anything to us, without a doubt it was because of this initiative, since it served to launch the project we had been preparing for some months: the formation courses. They were a way of summarizing once more the first call of the Chapter: To passionately center our lives and our communities in Jesus, as Mary did and, to this end, to put into action processes of human growth and conversion. With this directive of the XX General Chapter, we decided to launch this new approach to promoting the ongoing formation of the Brothers: through formation courses. This year three courses were offered.

The first was centered on spirituality and had as its objective experiencing God in prayer and in everyday life. It consisted of an opening talk by Father Darío Mollá, SJ, and personal work throughout the course using selected materials based on Water from the Rock. Thirty-four Spanish and Italian Brothers took the course.

The second was centered on human growth. Directed by Father Carlos Domínguez, SJ, it turned out to be a most interesting way of understanding the integration of the human and the religious in personal growth. It was followed by a group of eight Brothers who came together three times during the course. The material for their personal work was based on some of Father Carlos’ books: The Elements of Longing (?), The Adventure of Evangelical Celibacy and Faith after Freud.

The third program was entitled The Spirituality of the Lay Marist and was led by Don Julio López, of the fraternity of Denia (Alicante). It was taken by twenty-five lay people who, through personal work and two group sessions endeavored to come to a deeper understanding of Marist spirituality and how to live it as lay persons.

3. Spirituality for School Communities. The objective of this third activity was to open Marist spirituality to all the members of our school communities. Following a methodology similar to that used at the International Mission Assembly, a working plan was devised and Brothers, teachers, parents, catechists, and fraternities were invited to participate in three sessions at the local level with the purpose of, as a group, coming to a deeper understanding of Marist spirituality. At each of these meetings the materials consisted of a motivational document, with some points for reflection and group discussion. The meeting ended with community prayer and the distribution of excerpts from Water from the Rock for reflection and personal prayer at home. The themes of the three excerpts were: Eyes to See (youth and spirituality), From the Heart (community life and family), Bearers of Fire (mission).

Reflection groups on Marist spirituality were set up at every institution of the Province, with a total of 400 people participating.

4. Retreats on Marist Spirituality. Our summer province retreats were centered on spirituality as a means of growing at a more leisurely pace into the theme that guided us the whole year. Each day was based on a chapter of Water from the Rock and helped us grow closer to the basic themes presented by the book. We followed the same approach for the Brothers’ retreats as well as for the two retreats the Province has every year for Brothers and lay people.

We can say with confidence that the Year of Spirituality has enabled both the Brothers and laity of the province to deepen and share this central aspect of our lives. The rich human variety of those taking part in the various activities helped us achieve a deep level of communication on the themes presented. In addition, the formation programs have opened a new way—a type of process—of promoting both human and spiritual growth in the Brothers and laity.

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Br. Juan Carlos Fuertes

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