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European gathering of brothers no older than 45

09/09/2013: France - Photo gallery

The European gathering of Brothers no older than 45 took place in the house of Champagnat, Notre-Dame de l’Hermitage, from 11 to 17 August.  Participants numbered 52. Among them, 46 were aged under 45, mostly Spaniards, but also Portuguese, Italians, a Belgian, a Lebanese, to whom were added Br Allan from the Philippines and the French postulant Arnaud, of the Hermitage community. Br Emili Turú, Superior General, and Br Antonio Ramalho, Councillor General, participated in the whole meeting. Some Brothers were present for part of the time : Brendan Geary, Provincial of West Central Europe and president  of the EMC, Maurice Berquet, Provincial of the Hermitage, Oscar Martín Vicario, Provincial of Compostela, and Moisés Alonso, Vice-provincial of « Ibérica ». The Vice-provincial of « Mediterránea », Juan Carlos Fuertes, was one of the younger Brothers.

The central theme of the meeting was : « Young enthusiastic hearts ». And one strong point was, in fact, the extraordinary « connection » experienced by all and among all, a real sign of brotherhood in the Europe of today. But also connection with the social reality of the continent, the Church, religious life, Marist centres : a realistic look, marked with hope nourished at the sources of the Gospel and our charism.

The programme was very well organised by the preparatory commission of the participants themselves, chosen by the EMC (European Marist Conference). It consisted of very creative animations, intense and participative prayers, times of relaxation and a pilgrimage to the Marist Places.

The many moments of reflection and sharing touched on the principal aspects of the  Marist reality, always in a very lively way : our vocation today and its Marial dimension, our identity in the Church, community life, spirituality, structures of animation, vitality in Europe, our internationality, our commitment to children and youth, especially in the new forms of poverty, the new relationship with laity as a way forward…

Br Emili  animated two essential moments of the reflection ; he posed many questions and gave many reasons for hope for the future. He invited the group to a time of silence to interiorise the experiences lived and the reflections made, thus preparing a later moment of open dialogue. At the end of the gathering, Br  Emili said that a Europe could be a laboratory for what will happen, or has already happened, in other parts of a secularised world. A group of brothers such as this, with so much energy, could and should open roads. And Br Emili insisted : « Take an active part and be creative ! Be fully brothers (vocational coherence). Be fully young (‘disturb’, share your dreams).

Among the most impressive moments of celebration, we should mention 15 August, patronal feast of the Institute, when five Brothers renewed their vows during the Eucharist. The atmosphere of the place and the extraordinary welcome (and witness) of the community of the Hermitage contributed greatly to transform the week into lived times of faith, fraternity, deep Marist spirit and the rebiuilding of strength for the road.

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