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1st National Encounter of Former Marist Brothers

25/05/2011: Portugal

On April 16, we gathered in Fatima, at la Consolata—16 former brothers from Portugal (one of them, Father Serafim Marques, from la Consolata), along with five wives and a former-student friend. This meeting was different from the previous ones we have had. Various meetings have already been organized, including former juniors and, at times, former students. The participants sought, more than ever before, a key to deepen their Christian pilgrimage and for a way to be able to deepen what is distinctively Marist. All were able to speak of themselves and be open to the others, and to communicate with and listen to one another. There was sincerity, spontaneity, and at times, emotion. We all see ourselves as Marists, an identity that will be ours all the way to heaven.

Two former brothers were unable to participate because of last-minute complications. A number of others who had not registered expressed their regret for not participating, some because of health or family situations, others due to professional commitments.

The Institute was represented Brothers Manuel Silva and Teofilo Minga. We chose the date so as to enjoy of Br. Teofilo’s presence, as he was on his way back to Rome from Toronto, and to make a pilgrimage to this great Marian shrine. We felt at home in Fatima because our spirituality is such a deeply Marian spirituality.

Br. Silva spoke to us of the Marian face of the Church, lived deeply by the Marist congregations from their beginnings. Br. Teofilo, in charge of the Mission Ad Gentes Secretariat, spoke to us with great enthusiasm about the Congregation’s missionary strategy and efforts, presently mostly centered in Asia, but not only there. All the participants listened to him with close attention and a great deal of interest. It was first-hand information that we had been awaiting for a long time. Br. Teofilo knew how to respond to our interest, not only by the talk he gave, but especially by the conversations that followed the talk. He is a master of the topic, but above all, he has a deep love for Marist ministry, especially in the missions.

The wish to go beyond led to the following resolutions, which are the result of proposals that greatly exceeded what the organizing commission hoped:

  1. To meet on the national level twice a year, preferably in May and October.
  2. To set up four regional centers: Lisbon, Leiria, Porto and Chaves, to take advantage of the proximity to the regions where there is a high concentration of former brothers. Animators were chosen for each of these centers.

The structure of the encounter developed throughout the preparation phase and underwent many adjustments during the day itself, considering the rhythm of the dynamics of interaction.

The Eucharist was presided over by former brother, Father Serafim Marques, from la Consolata, who was also, in a certain way, our host; it was the final gift to conclude our day and the high point of the day. Father Serafim gave a wonderful homily, being a brilliant communicator, and we felt him throughout the day to be one of us - he was with us the entire time. The Eucharist concluded the day. We know that Marist spirituality, as presented in the recent document Water from the Rock, is a Eucharistic spirituality. As Marists, we are invited to live a Eucharistic life.

________________
Manuel do Rosario Carvalho
Coordinator, Former Marist Brothers of Portugal

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