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A week of reflexion and retreat at Valcartier

11/11/2009: Canada

The members of the councils of administration of the Champagnat Movement of the Marist Family of Canada (MCFMC) and of the Marist Movement of Quebec (MMQ) with a few Brothers gave themselves up to a end of the week of reflexion and retreat at Valcartier, 30th, 31st and 1st November last. The novelty is in the fact that these two groups were meeting together for the first time to share and exchange (ideas) on Marist Laity according to the document Around the same Table. In the text which follows I will share with you, not the complete development of this meeting carefully directed by some members, but simply a few echoes of what I saw and heard.

We had come to live a time of sharing and reflexion following the document Around the same Table. At the moment of departure we could state that we had done more than live together. We had lived the communal EXPERIENCE of coming together to:

* To bake our bread, the bread which nourished the body in the
absence of electricity for supper on Saturday as much as the bread of friendship
and solidarity which we broke on Saturday night with guests by candlelight.
* To put in common what constitutes our wheat (qualities, stages of our journey…), the salt which gives sense and taste to our lives and the leaven which is the source of growth both human and spiritual.
* To become more conscious of the Marist charism which has been born on our respective pathways as lay people or religious and to clarify what I have received from others and what I have brought there.
* To realise that the shared reading of a chapter of the Document was so much richer and more alive than a simple, personal reading.
* To live over the course of the week-end several adaptations provided to our time-table.
- The use of a new frying pan for the cooking of bread which has led to some adjustments.
- The lack of electricity for fourteen hours which made a mess of eating and the evening but not of communication and listening.
- The welcome of our visiting Brothers to a meal with a new awareness of the plan for solidarity of Vallée-Jeunesse.
- Dinner and the evening by candle-light which created a very warm and convivial atmosphere.
- A long reflection together on the future of the MMQ and of its possible implication in a vaster plan of solidarity.
- A questioning on the specific vocation of the MMQ as a Movement which wants to bring together and into solidarity all the Marist entities in Quebec Around the same Table.

We came to LIVE together. We left, enriched by an EXPERIENCE OF LIFE. This is more than a stylistic nuance. It is a reality which each of us felt. We have established bonds which had every chance of remaining and nourishing our lives. Is this the way to learn to become a Marist? It only remains to read through again this experience and integrate it into our lives. We certainly discover in it, signs of the presence of God, always living and acting. But we will experience there the fact of forming a family, animated by the same spirit around Mary and Champagnat, all equal in our respective vocations around the same table!

_______________
Réal Cloutier, fms

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