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26 November

Saint Conrad
1947: Birth of Brother Seán Sammon, 12th Superior General

Marist Calendar - November

Interview with Frère Xavier Barceló



Brother Xavier Barceló is the Provincial of the Province of L’Hermitage

25/09/2005: Sri Lanka

AMEstaún. You were a young brother when you were invited by Brother Charles Howard, Superior General, to the V General Conference at Veranópolis. Today, you are taking part in the VII General Conference as a Provincial.

Brother Xavier Barceló. Yes, my Province then of Catalonia had a number of young brothers and Brother Charles invited the Provinces to send a young brother. My Provincial invited me and I accepted. Before the Conference I had a solidarity experience in Bolivia, Latin America with eight or nine Provincials. This was an experience of ten days in contact with the Marist reality and the Bolivian religious and Church life to better understand the life that God was arousing among the autochthones, the children and the young people in our schools. I also spent two days in Paraguay to meet the brothers. I promised myself I would return to Latin America with a one-way ticket only, but I have not been able to accomplish my promise.

AMEstaún. Assuredly, more than one Provincial from Latin America will take note of your availability. But let’s look for a moment at the past to realise the gifts of God. From Veranópolis to Negombo, the Institute has taken an interesting pathway. We have experienced important events that have made the history of the Institute.

Brother Xavier Barceló. Sixteen years have passed: two General Chapters and another General Conference. Even though I did not take part in any of these events, I believe that all the brothers were witnesses to the evolution of our Institute with the vigour that followed these meetings, under the leadership of Charles Howard, Benito Arbués and Seán Sammon, and guided by their letters and circulars. The map of the Provinces has changed notably. The number of brothers is reduced but we are still present in more countries. The average age in some areas is much higher, while in other places the novitiates are full. Restructuring, the presence of laypeople in Marist life and mission, Marist apostolic spirituality, the canonisation of our Founder, the Vocation year that we have just had. We are a living Institute and thus changing continually.

AMEstaún. What interior journey have the brothers followed since the XX General Chapter up to the VII General Conference?

Brother Xavier Barceló. My point of view is limited if you consider the great cultural diversity and the vast internationality of the institute. What I see in my Province and in my contact with the brothers of other Provinces, is that the interior journey is an attempt to clarify our identity, by an effort to be visible as Marists and in our way of acting, by our vocation as brother in the Church with the laypeople, by a redefinition of our apostolic spirituality, by an updating of our educational and evangelical mission at the service of needy children and young people, and by searching for a style of community life rooted in our charismatic origins and open to the challenges of the culture of the young people of our time.

AMEstaún. How do you see the XX General Chapter four years later?

Brother Xavier Barceló. In discovering that the five Chapter calls are not only totally up-to-date, but they also conserve all the vigour of a challenge. It seems to be that, founded in personal and community prayer, reflected in fraternal dialogue and shared in the light of experiences effectuated in our Provinces, these calls are going to continue to nourish the life and the future of our Marist journey. I ask Saint Marcellin to give us something of his passion, his interior fire, to live this out personally as well as in community.

AMEstaún. What do you perceive as being the most vital at the Conference?

Brother Xavier Barceló. We are in the second half. I believe that the phenomenal welcome by the Brothers of Sri Lanka, the great simplicity and eastern freshness, the serious preparation of topics, their co-ordination by the brothers open to consultation and to collaboration, the enlightening and passionate words of Brother Seán facilitated from the debut a climate of frank communication and attentiveness which allows us to take the pulse of the Institute and to see where perhaps God is present in the gentle breeze. I am sure that we form an assembly that is open and attentive enough to glimpse with adequate clarity a few paths for the future, or at least, some recommendations for our journey.

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