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1857:foundation of the Missionary Sisters of the Society of Mary (SMSM)
1871: the first Marist Brothers set out for Australia
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Africa Mission Team Holds 3rd Meeting

08/08/2009: Tanzania - Photo gallery

The Africa Mission Team met recently at the Postulant House of the Afrique Centre Est Province. The house was available because the postulants were away, making a retreat with Brother Eugene Kabanguka, their Provincial. Having greeted us warmly, Brothers Valentin and John Onyona, the Brothers in charge of the Postulant House, then looked after our needs during the meeting. Mass was held in the local parish, and our community prayer was drawn from three texts admirably suited for the purpose: Brother Bigotto’s latest book on Mary; “Water from the Rock”; “In the Footsteps of Marcellin.”

During one of the breaks, we had a brief and interesting exchange with members of the Champagnat Movement Fraternity which has come into existence in Mwanza, the very place where we were holding our meeting.

Our first Team meeting had taken place in Accra, Ghana in October 2006. As a result of the first gathering, we worked up an action plan which met with the approval of the Africa Provin-cials and District Superior. Our Team met for a second time in Harare, Zimbabwe, in December 2007.

In the present instance, our meeting provided us with the chance to take a good look at what we have accomplished, to reconsider some of the programs initially put in place, and make some decisions about starting some new undertakings.

Given the realities of contemporary Africa, the Team decided to focus its activities upon three broad areas.

A) Improving the quality of youth ministry in Africa, working on this issue with other conti-nents. We see this task as being focused upon two objectives:
- To promote youth ministry in Africa and to provide the necessary resources for such a ministry.
- To create contacts between young people of Africa and young people in other parts of the Marist world.

B) Reaching a deeper understanding of what is specific about the Brother’s identity on the one hand, and the identity of Champagnat laity on the other; to reach the deeper un-derstanding through shared experiences of spirituality, apostolate, formation. In order to attain such a goal, we foresee the need for activities centered upon two goals:
- Developing a consciousness of these “identity issues” in each of the Administrative Units;
- Setting up occasions when formative activities on these issues can take place.

C) Finding suitable answers to the fresh challenges that are arising in educational activities conducted or sponsored by the Marist Brothers. “We desire to stress especially the right to education: an evangelizing education, an education which is committed to solidarity and to the transformation of society, which is sensitive to culture and to the envi-ronment, an education free of discrimination, education that offers opportunities to young people who do not have them” (Mendes Assembly, final document). In order to reach such a goal, we envision actions centered upon the following goal:
- Providing a good formation for those who are in charge of Marist Brother schools.

The Team regards as its biggest challenge the establishment of good communications (1) among the Team members themselves, (2) with the Provincial (or District) Councils, and (3) with the Brothers facing the everyday realities of the apostolate. The Team drew up a letter which will be sent to the Conference of Africa Superiors, informing them of the meeting we have just had and the plans we have made. The letter also solicits their accord in carrying out the action plans we have drawn up. In addition to addressing the preceding challenges, we also wish to make good use of the opportunities which the internet offers us for increasing communication among the Team members.

When we evaluated the meeting, we rated it as a very positive experience, singling out the fol-lowing elements: the very cordial welcome we were given; the good organization; the facilities of the venue; the sense of freedom we experienced in being able to express criticisms in a constructive way; the sense of brotherhood and equality we felt in coming to decisions; the creation of some concrete outcomes; the formulation of a program that should be easy to fol-low and should produce tangible results; ease in dialoguing and in reaching agreement.

Our next meeting will be held in Antsirabe, Madagascar, April 9-10, 2010.

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