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Interview with Br Juan Carlos Fuertes Mari

27/08/2013: Spain

The International Commission Brothers Today met in Rome from 4 to 11 July. On this occasion, we spoke with some of its members. We present today a conversation with Br Juan Carlos Fuertes of the Province of «Mediterránea».

What does it mean for you to be a brother today?

First, I esteem that being a brother is a gift from God in my life. For me, being brother is the way I have for growing, for developing as a person, for entering into relationship with others, for serving, for loving… It is to enjoy this life God gives me and to look constantly for the way to increase the love that is in me, in living it in freedom, generosity and joy.

What is it to be brother today? I believe this is a question many of us are asking at this time. The XXI General Chapter asks of us a new way of living our consecrated life, more firmly centred on the Gospel. One key for responding to this call could be the search for what helps me live fully, with enthusiasm, passion… and to develop it. I am convinced that our life and vocation as brothers contains a personal and spiritual richness so great that when we discover it, it begins to change our life and helps us to give to others, to aid them to grow, at their side, to move forward with them, to live brotherhood… in the fields of education, ministry, solidarity, in our own community, with the people we love… ; that helps us little by little to change our hearts.

Is the animation of vocations an important mission for the Institute ? How should we take it ?

The animation of vocations is , quite simply, one of the most important services which we, the brothers, can offer the youth of today. And what is still more important : each of us can do it. For it involves helping others discover their vocation, that is, to respond to the question : What do I want to do with my life ? Youth need to ask themselves this question and respond to it. And we, who have great experience in the discovery of our personal journey ; we, who know what it is to go through moments of crisis and to overcome them, and to recognise the voice of God in all that, we have the opportunity to accompany the young people in this task.

There are many ways to implement all that, but some concrete ones come to mind. To be beside young people, especially in our Marist growth in the faith groups, for that is where they ask themselves the key questions about life, the future, the great choices… To be with them at the time when the great decisions are taken (at the university, for example). To open our communities so that young people know us from the inside and so we can share with them our time, our prayers, our meals ; to share with them our faith and our Marist charism. And what speaks most strongly is our life, the force of our witness. So it is essential to increase in each of us what makes us live and nourishes our vocation : interiority,  fraternity, commitment, solidarity,  contact with others…

Almost 200 years from the foundation of the Institute, what are the challenges for the brothers today ? Are the challenges taken up by Marcellin still relevant ?

The XXI General Chapter speaks of promoting a new epoch for the Marist charism and expresses it concretely in a very beautiful and clear way : a new consecrated life, leaven rooted in the Gospel, which encourages a new way of being brother ; a new relationship between brothers and laity , based on communion, searching together for a greater vitality of the Marist charism for our world ; a strongly significant presence among poor children and youth. It is a formulation which we know well, but proves difficult to live for us. For me, to face up to these calls today is the way of updating the challenges taken up by Marcellin in his time.

What particular experiences of the brothers of your region could be an example for the rest of the Institute?

In my opinion, the current epoch is one of the most creative we have known in Europe for vocations ministry. Plans for animation of vocations are being renewed, new initiatives are being created, more and more people are becoming involved in this matter… It is for this that some communities have opened their doors to groups of university students who spend a week in the brothers’ house. They live their normal life – work or study or other – but they share meals and prayers with the brothers. It is a very beautiful and simple way of being able to communicate to young people what motivates our life and to allow the young people to communicate to us what makes them live in depth.

Great importance is also given to a type of formation based on  experience and living, around the figure of Marcellin. That leads some persons to ask themselves how to channel all the questionings that arise in them on the basis of the life and intuitions of Marcellin.

Experiences of joint formation of brothers and laity around the Marist charism are seeing the light of day. And these experiences give rise to others which go further and require the opening of new ways. In this sense, there exist already communities formed by brothers and laity who seek to live today the Marist  mission and spirituality, who seek to make Jesus Christ known and loved by the poor youth of today. 

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