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Monday 22: New Marists in Mission

22/09/2014: Kenya
Mission Assembly- Nairobi 2014

A Look into the Future of the Marist Mission

The work of the day, entrusted to the group as “seekers and explorers”, was about climbing the mountain and scanning new horizons. Marist life is now compelled to start a movement of exodus and displacement leading brothers and laity to abandon the answers of the past and trace the path to the Promised Land across the desert. Searching and exploring should lead the participants to experiment and create new patterns for Marist life and mission.

 

Envisioning a future world 

The “story around the fire” was about a tribe settled from time immemorial on the side of a high mountain.

The leader of the tribe, who was very ill, called his sons and told them: ‘Climb the holy mountain. The one who brings me the most beautiful gift, will succeed me in being the leader’.

One of the sons brought him a special and beautiful flower. The other son brought a beautiful multicolored stone. The third son told his father: ‘I haven’t brought anything. From the top of the mountain, I could see the other side, with wonderful meadows and a crystalline lake. I was so amazed that I was not able to bring anything. However, I am now obsessed with that new settlement for our tribe’.

Then, the old man replied: ‘You will be the new leader, since you have given me the vision of a better future for our tribe’.

The participants also scanned the Institute’s horizon through an inner glance during morning prayer, and expressed their state of mind by using four colored sheets. Each person conveyed his or her feelings about the future awaiting the Marist Institute through a variety of colors, among which the blue of energy and the green of hope prevailed.

 

Organizing the day

The work began by setting the objectives for the day. Brother Maeb oriented the work and reminded the Assembly that the most important task was “listening to”, “observing” and “connecting with” the Holy Spirit’s inspiration for the Institute today. In order to help materialize the insights that would emerge during the day, a group was appointed to summarize them. This group of people would act as antennas for the Assembly, receiving the participant’s input and, in turn, presenting the Assembly with a summary for their consideration. Each participant in the Assembly was invited to act as voice for the Institute. Many people worldwide were in tune with the Assembly through the media that day. The Assembly’s webpage had received 1376 “likes” in Facebook until then. More than 2000 people had spoken about this webpage in their posts, and 35597 people had accessed the Nairobi page through Facebook.

 

New Marists in Mission

Brother Emili began his message by recalling the contributions of brothers Josep Maria Soteras and Joe McKee in previous days, and then spoke about the missionary dimension of the Institute. He paralleled the General Conference – held a year earlier in the Hermitage – with the II MIMA. The General Conference brings together the brothers who are leading the Institute four years after the General Chapter to take the pulse of the Institute and envision a project looking into the future – he said. The General Conference is a non-deliberative meeting, such as the II MIMA, but both can share an international perspective and look into the future of the Institute.

He added that we have been talking about a dawning for the entire Institute keeping two horizons in mind: being mystics and prophets. The fact of celebrating the Conference at the Hermitage emphasized this perspective, such as Nairobi will mark the II MIMA. At the General Conference, we asked ourselves how we wanted the Institute to look like in 2020 and, in the perspective of the second centenary of the Foundation, we thought about “a new beginning”.

Then he mentioned the five major topics that emerged at the General Conference: children and young people in situations of vulnerability, global availability, interculturality, meaningful life, and spirituality. Following Pope Francis in Evangelii gaudium, he proposed a “pastoral and missionary conversion” which does “not leave things as they are”, but moves to the “peripheries”.

Then he highlighted the requirement of Evangelii gaudium about letting “our lives be transformed by God”, “cultivating an inner space”, and having “prolonged moments of adoration, of prayerful encounter with the Lord”.

 

Workshops

There was time for personal reflection after brother Emili’s message. Then, after the morning break, six small workshops took place around the following topics:

1. Internationality (Bro. Ernesto Sánchez).

2. Looking with the eyes of a poor child (Bro. Álvaro Sepúlveda).

3. Being Church (Alfonso Ruiz de Chávez).

4. Evangelizers among youth (Jack Stamers).

5. Speaking of God today (Bro. Ismael and Lucy).

6. Children’s rights (Bro. Manel Mendoza).

 

Dialogue around the fire

The daily space called “dialogue around the fire” was a moment to share the “call to Marist Mission in a new world”. To this end, the group echoed previous reflections. Two words focused people’s attention: “call” and “new”. It comes down to detecting the new world that is awaiting the Marist mission today. The work consists of pointing out three calls per group.

In the plenary session, the small communities shared these three calls and wrote them down on paper sheets for everyone to see, so that people could check through the contributions of each group. A number of key words resounded: spirituality, prophecy, get moving, going to new places, shared formation, community, rethinking the principles of Marist educational mission, mysticism, new apostolic presences, rights of children, etc. The adjectives attached to some of these concepts were probably the most innovative element: bold, public, geographic, existential, etc.

A couple of phrases echoed in this session indicating the participants’ attitude during the Assembly: “whatever comes out from this Assembly should be bold”; “the presence of young people is an invitation to take risks and move to new horizons”. To process all this material, the participants spent a long time on their own working on their Marist logbook.

 

Young people animating the celebration

The 12 young participants in the Assembly guided the celebration that closed the day. Their skills as group leaders became evident in the way they organized the activity. They invited the participants to remember their childhood, and share their happy memories with the Assembly. Then they gave a balloon to each participant and managed to create a playful atmosphere in which people shared their childhood experiences. At the end they turned the balloons used during the celebration into ornaments, and placed them next to the statue of the Good Mother.

The day was crowned with an exposition from Oceania and Asia, during which the group shared cultural, artistic, gastronomic, and Marist elements from these regions.

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AMEstaún, 22 September

Mission Assembly- Nairobi 2014

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