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Conclusion of the first week of Conference activities



VII General Conference - 10th September

13/09/2005: Sri Lanka

The weekend
Saturday morning was dedicated to personal reflection after a week of intense work. The gears of the Conference have been truly broken in during this first week. After some adjustment, each piece is now well in place. <276.jpg alt= VII General Conference – 10th September hspace=5 vspace=5 align=right>The amount as well as the quality of information is impressive. There is no time to lose and the brothers, well used to well organised meetings, are conscious of the need of a demanding method. Styles may vary, but the planned programme is so vast and complex that it requires a discipline that one accepts without difficulty.
The atmosphere of work is excellent. One tries to effectively treat all the subjects that the brothers have brought in their dossiers from every part of the Institute. The afternoon break is well appreciated by all. This is a time for everyone to enjoy one’s personal rhythm.

Taking the pulse of the Conference
The climate of the house is one of recollection, serenity, joy and work. Physical exercise allows one to relax. A walk on the beach or diving into the water is invigorating. The temperature is very pleasant, as is the sea breeze. The atmosphere of recollection which encourages prayer consoles the soul. Thank god, there have been no health problems during this first week. All the brothers have fully taken part in the works of the Conference.
The food is of a very good quality. The self-service allows each person to take what he wishes according to his diet. There is heavy rain for a few minutes at time sometimes several times a day, but the showers are brief. No Conference activity has been affected. During the first few days, the monsoon winds had blown strongly and rattled the windows. At night, you can hear the waves and in the morning the happy singing of exotic birds.

The Conference and the web
The web page has started to gather the messages of those who are one with the work of the Conference. In a lot of places, people are following the events of the Conference through the web page and also in Marist Update 186. Several Provincials have received the news placed on the Institute’s webpage through their Province’s web pages. The majority of messages received have come from brothers who find this a way of participating effectively in the Conference. The participants who want to revitalise their Administrative Units are very grateful for this unity of brothers throughout the whole world.
We thank you for the interest that you have shown in our daily chronicle. The web page is put together in Rome from documents sent from Negombo in Sri Lanka. Brother Onorino Rota, helped by Mr Luiz Da Rosa, produces the daily edition on the Internet. But each of you can follow the progress of the Conference in your own language thanks to the translators who are entrusted each day with translating the abundant work sent to Rome.

Due to the free day on Sunday, you will receive the chronicle for Saturday at the start of the week. The brothers at the Conference are very grateful for the technical effort made this week in adapting the web page and keeping it up-to-date. This has also been a period of breaking-in, but at present the reports on the Conference are read with curiosity and interest.

The Conference welcomes the communities of Sri Lanka
The participants of the Conference were able to fraternise with the thirty-five brothers from Sri Lanka who came to Negombo this afternoon. They started to arrive towards three thirty in the afternoon, with the eight novices of the Province: three Pakistanis, three Indians and two Sri Lankans. The Conference Social Committee as well as Brothers Luis Garcia Sobrado took charge of the welcome.
<276a.jpg alt=The Conference welcomes the communities of Sri Lanka >The Conference meeting room had been prepared to receive the brothers and Noel Cabrera and Rajami, affiliated to the Institute.
The meeting started with words of welcome from Brother Seán, Superior General, who spoke of the joy of everyone in being united with the brothers from Sri Lanka on this occasion of the VII General Conference. At the same time, he thanked them for the work that they do for the good of the Gospel, of the Church, of the Institute and of this country.
Following this, Brother Luis Garcia Sobrado made a brief presentation of all the brothers participating in the Conference by mentioning their responsibilities.

The Marist communities of Sri Lanka
The Brother Provincial presented the communities of Sri Lanka and the Superiors presented their community: Brother Godfrey Nugegada for the community of Saint Joseph and Brother Clinton for Our Lady of the Hermitage, Tudella, who he said a few words regarding each of his brothers. The Novitiate community at Tudella, neighbours to the previous community were presented by Brother Joseph Fonseca who mentioned the work of each person. The Master of Novices, Brother Michael Sexton, presented each of the novices. Brother Noel presented the community of Haldanduwana and Brother Gregory did the same for Marcellin Nivasa, the Provincial House situated at Negombo. Brother Leal did the same for the community of Kalpitiya and Brother Linus for the Holy Cross College at Kalutara. Brother Victor represented the brothers in Pakistan. At the end of a power-point display, Brother Joseph Peiris highlighted the work of the brothers at Maris Stella College, Negombo.
This simple meeting finished with a word of thanks to Brothers Paul Gilchrist, Provincial of Melbourne, and John Thompson, Provincial of Sydney, for the help offered generously by their Provinces to the Sector of India during these last fifteen years. In January this sector will become part of the new Province of Sri Lanka and Pakistan. Brother Lazar Hirudayasamy, Superior of the Sector of India offered them a beautiful gift.
Then in a meaningful gesture, Brother Seán presented a beautiful sculpture of the Good Mother to the Province of Sri Lanka and Pakistan, in recognition of all the work done by the Province to host the General Conference at Negombo.

Arrival of former students
During the break before the Mass, refreshments were served to the participants. During this time a delegation of fifteen former students of different colleges arrived.
During the Eucharist, all were united in thanking the Lord for the fruits he has given to this country and to the Institute by the work of our brothers.
Then, all dined at the Conference hotel where we were able to share the international savour of the table of Marist fraternity. Brothers, having travelled a long way in the Institute, were able to share with the novices. Champagnat and Mary, invited by right to the Conference since the opening day, must have smiled lovingly and rejoiced that the vitality of the Institute is expressed thus in manifestations that are filled with hope.

Cultural evening
At the end of dinner, about ninety students, dressed in shimmering costumes and accompanied by fifteen teachers and ten former students of Jospeh Vaz College, offered a spectacle of dance and music which mixed with the magic of the night and the sea.
To the rhythm of a drum, one of the traditional instruments of Buddhist worship, they performed various dances such as the Samuha vadanaya, the dance of the Kandyan and the Gini sisila, a fire dance. The masked dance, Naga gurulu, is for exorcising the possessed from their demons. It is still practised in Sri Lanka to treat mental illness.
The unity and harmony of the drumbeats delighted the spectators who were moved by the colours, the rhythm and the grace of the dances.
One Sri Lanka student introduced the dances and the Superior General thanked all the performers, the organisers and the former students. The national anthem of Sri Lanka brought the evening to a close.

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