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First Chapter of the Marist District of Asia

29/08/2013: Thailand - Photo gallery

The first Chapter of the new Marist District of Asia was held in Thailand from 2nd to 7th of August. The administrative unit, until now has been known as the AMAG Sector (Asia Mission Ad Gentes). Brothers and lay people who work in Thailand, Bangladesh, Cambodia, India, Philippines and two other countries attended the meeting. Brothers Emili Turú, Superior General, Joe McKee, Vicar General and Chris Wills, director of the Secretariat: Collaboration for Mission, International also participated.

The District, dependent on the General Council, has as Superior Brother Juan Castro, who is assisted by a 4 councilors: Brothers Ismael Valls, Eugenio Sanz, Andrew Chan and Michael Potter.

Below we report the impressions of Brother Juan Castro about the challenges of Marists in Asia.

We just had the visit of our General Superior Brother Emili The motive: Our Ad Gentes Sector, began a new stage in his development. From our beginnings, as a Sector to becoming a District. Emili’s opening speech was short but full of challenges. He talked about being provocative, challenging the entire Institute, this is your mandate he repeated. You are an international District, formed to be a laboratory for the entire Marist world. In some respects this words made me feel like a mouse of India… used for experiments. But that was not what he meant. I think his voice was an echo of the expressions of Francisco to the young generation of Argentina. “I want people to go out!” he explained. “I want the Church to go out to the street! I want us to defend ourselves against everything that is worldliness, that is installation, that is comfortableness, that is clericalism, that is being shut-in on ourselves. The parishes, the schools, the institutions, exist to go out! If they don’t go out, they become NGOs, and the Church can’t be an NGO."... "Make a mess go to the streets. Challenge the bishops, challenge the structures.” Emil’s voice resounded in my ears…"Be provocative"… "Your way of life should challenge all Institute"… and I felt small, weak, and fragile. How can we be able to answer these challenges?

Emili himself gave us the principle lines of action with which we can answer the call to grow and to be provocative. Mysticism, Community, and Mission (... to the ends of the world...)

Mysticism sounds to some, remote from the way we know our Institute moves. Marist apostolic Spirituality is centered on ministry but Emili reiterated, "Yes prophets but also contemplatives." "Yes, apostolic, but also spiritual."

My mind went back to Saint Marcellin Champagnat moving from one village to the other, attending the needs of young and old, building the community. Yes, but at the same time being contemplative discovering that Mary was the one who had done everything for the us. He was always in action but as aware of the Presence of God in the Hermitage as in Paris. This contemplative attitude for Marists has been for us a weak point that needs reinforcement. And now Emili asks us, lay and brothers Marists in mission, to deep in our hearts this attitude here in Asia where the great religions were found, where the Buddhism takes roots among the people with the attitudes of benevolence, respect to any kind of life, silence ad contemplation.

Three years ago when the general Council met with us, they expressed this thought by inviting Sister Mary Sujita Kallupurakkathu, SND to talk about Challenges for the Apostolic consecrated life in Asia. She said: “Asia offers to the world a deeper understanding of mysticism based on her centuries of spiritual pursuit and her accumulated spiritual heritage. She is familiar with a life of passionate search for God and prophetic renunciation. The greatest challenge and opportunity. Before us as Asian religious is to be mystics who are impelled by a passion for Christ and his mission of compassion. If we are serious about being a transforming presence in Asia, then we must embrace a lifestyle that witnesses to our people, regardless of their cultural and faith traditions, the age-old Asian values of true holiness, contemplation, renunciation and asceticism, detachment and simplicity. ….”

I reflect that for me, at this moment, this is the point where we in the Marist District of Asia have to deepen in our lives the presence of the Spirit calling us to be one with God.

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