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Mariology Symposium

27/07/2011: Brazil

Around 250 persons took part at the opening of the Symposium on Mariology on 17 July in São Paulo. The Symposium is one of the activities promoted by the Marist Union of Brasil (UMBRASIL) to celebrate the Marian Year. The purpose of the event is to further study of Mariology, in the field of theology and ministry, offering opportunities for reflection and debate on Marian themes. Spirituality, art, culture, knowledge and fraternity were characteristics of the first night of the event.

 Cardinal Dom Odilo Pedro Scherer, Metropolitan Archbishop of São Paulo, presided over the Mass which initiated the opening ceremony, followed by the official ceremony and a cocktail. During the Mass, emphasis was given to the image of Nossa Senhora de la Nova Terra (Our Lady of the new Land), symbol of the Marian Year, which recalls Mary the pilgrim. Sister Maria Aparecida Cangassú Santana, representing the congregation of the Marist Sisters, carried the image in procession from the entrance to the altar. In his homily, Dom Odilo recalled the importance of Mary’s role in the annunciation of the Reign of God and prayed: “that the Virgin Mary teach us to become ever more disciples and announcers of the Good News of the Kingdom of God, which is a kingdom of peace, justice and joy in the Holy Spirit”.

At the official ceremony afterwards, the organizers and collaborators of the event presented the importance of the Symposium for Brothers and laity. The members of the opening panel were: Br Arlindo Corrent, presidente of UMBRASIL; Cardinal Dom Odilo Pedro Scherer, Metropolitan Archbishop of São Paulo; Dom Tomé Ferreira de la Silva, Auxiliary Bishop of São Paulo; Br Valdícer Civa Fachi, executive Secretary of UMBRASIL; Sister Vera Bombonatto, representative of the Conference of Religious of Brasil (CRB); Br José de Assis Elias de Brito, co-ordinator of the Area of Consecrated Life and Laity of UMBRASIL; Fr José Maria da Silva, representing the congregation of the Marist Fathers of Brasil; Sister Maria Aparecida Cangassú Santana, representing the congregation of the Marist Sisters and Br Antonio Benedito de Oliveira, Director of the Archdiocesan Marist College.

Br Arlindo Corrent welcomed the participants and reaffirmed that the Symposium was intended to help us discover the meaning of Mary in our life and in the heart of the Church. He recalled the words of  Saint Marcellin Champagnat, who encouraged the first brothers to imitate the Good Mother. “Each one should endeavour to become like her. I desire that all your actions are seen as those of Mary”. Sister Vera underlined the importance of the Mother of God for the congregations, especially in this period in which the CRB established as one of its priorities, the rediscovery of the deep meaning of the consecrated religious life. “Mary teaches us to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus”, she said, recalling the passage of Hebrews 12: 2.

The Archbishop of São Paulo stated the missionary desire of the Church, expressed in the  document of Aparecida, which places it in relation with the Marist mission: “The Church desires all Christians to be missionaries. The motivation found by the Marist brothers in the conclusions of the XXI  General Chapter, ‘With Mary to a new land’, inspires a going out to meet those who need to hear the Good news of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The meeting is an opportune moment for the religious congregations and the Marist Family, which inspires them to carry the Gospel to all humanity, as Mary did”, he concluded.

Art and culture also marked the opening night. The students of the Archdiocesan College presented a theatrical piece which explored the various faces of Mary present in our society. The purpose of the group was to dramatize some of the difficulties encountered by so many women in everyday life. The ex-student Raoni Iaconis gave a dance presentation to the sound of the poem Metade, of Oswaldo Montenegro.

The Symposium, which finished on the 21 July, had an extensive programme, including important conferences, workshops and subject groups. On the last day of the gathering took place the pilgrimage of the participants to the National Sanctuary of Nuestra Señora Aparecida, in Aparecida del Norte.

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