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Brothers formators for a new world

 

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Interview with Brother Dennis Cooper

28/12/2013: General House

Among the ongoing formation programmes, our houses of Manziana and the Escorial are offering a special programme in 2014 for the qualification and preparation of Brother formators for the stages of Marist initial formation. It is called « Brothers formators for a new world » and is intended to respond to the desire formulated by the XXI General Chapter to promote a new consecrated life which generates a new way of being brother.

Brother Dennis Cooper, of the Province of Australia, has been appointed by the General Council as the new Director of the Manziana House and animator of the team which is drawing up the English language programme for the formators. He will be assisted by Brothers Sylvain Yao (District of West Africa) and Alfredo Herrera (Province of East Asia). During a meeting in Rome to put the finishing touches to the programme, we were able to have a very interesting interview on the future of formation and the programme for formators.

Tell us about yourself and the other team members.
My name is Dennis Cooper, from the Province of Australia and my early years as a Brother were spent in wonderful communities and in teaching. Then there were many special years living and working among Australian Aboriginal people. This experience was powerfully formative as we were called to stand close alongside some of the most marginalized people in our country. My sense of what it means to be a Brother today was shaped then.
Since participating in a program for future formators at Valpré, Lyon, France 1996 – 198 I have been involved in formation of young Brothers in Australia and at our Pacific Novitiate, in Fiji.
The other team members are Brothers Sylvain Yao and Alfredo Herrera. Sylvain is from the Ivory Coast and last year he completed six years as the District Leader for Western Africa. Along with wisdom and good humour he brings rich experience in formation work as well as in leadership to the team for our program.
Alfredo is originally from Mexico and has spent the greater part of his life in Korea. He is a man of energy and enthusiasm balanced with clear insight and vision. Like Sylvain, Alfredo has great experience as a formator and leader.
The experience and vision of these two men for the future of Marist life in Africa and Asia will help bring to the fore the internationality and intercultural strength and life of the whole group.

Why is the Institute investing in the formation for future formators?
When Br Emili, SG and the General Council decided to hold this program for the preparation of new Formators for the Congregation they saw it is one of the means for putting into effect the call of the XXI General Chapter to prepare Brothers as formators able to work in the formation of Brothers for a new world. The Chapter emphasized that our formation programs should respond to the internationality of the Congregation by encouraging in new generations of brothers a missionary availability, a stronger sense of internationality and intercultural sensitivity.
Added to this is the importance of having sufficient well-prepared brother formators. Our experience as a congregation suggests, that the human and spiritual growth possible through active engagement in these programs, is vital for our future.

Who are the participants?
There are 17 participants preparing for the program in English at Manziana. Sixteen are Marist Brothers and one is a Marist Father. Eight are from Africa, three from Asia, three from Pacific Island countries, one from Spain and one from Australia. The Brother from Spain and one from the Solomon Islands, in the Pacific are members of the District of ad Gentes. The age range of the participants is from 30 to 48 with the majority being in their thirties.

What are some important elements of the program?
The program will offer a participative, practical approach, in which each Brother, besides growing as a person and deepening his closeness to Jesus, will have opportunities to develop the tools and skills required for his role as a formator. Important core ideas about Marist formation will be covered, taking care to adapt to the needs and issues of a contemporary formation. In addition, the program will address the XXI General Chapter call to ensure that our formation programs promote a deep understanding of the identity of the Marist Brother in the world today and provide an integrated growth for all dimensions of the human person.

What are your expectations of the program for future formators?
Provincials or District Leaders, have selected participating Brothers as being men who have the willingness and potential to be formators for the Institute. This implies that they will be open and available in the future to carry out this important mission, whether in their own province or in some other part of the Marist world if necessary.
We could finish by saying that as future formators the congregation is looking to these Brothers to become men of sufficient human maturity and flexibility of outlook to become compassionate formators and mentors to young men who nurture the dream of following in the footsteps of Marcellin and the first Brothers.  For men open to change in themselves and with a generous capacity for teamwork as well as openness to internationality – for the program itself and for future ministry.

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