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II International Marist Mission Assembly

 

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Wednesday, September 24th: A new era for the Marist charism

24/09/2014: Kenya - Photo gallery
Mission Assembly- Nairobi 2014

What resonates in our hearts? 

The Assembly is moving towards the development of its conclusions. The work proposed for this day is to review what has been experienced over the past days. For this purpose, most of the day was spent in an atmosphere of retreat and silence. A contemplative look helps us to "see" beyond the surface and perceive life in its strength, courage, kindness and beauty. 


Morning Prayer: The arrival of the drum in Africa 

A folk story from Guinea Bissau was used to illustrate the theme. The tale speaks of white-nosed monkeys deciding to reach the moon because it was pleasing and as white as their noses. To get there, they decided to climb on top of one another and form a tower until the highest monkey could touch the moon. But those at the bottom got tired and the tower collapsed. The one who had touched the moon, however, was already hooked to it by its tail. The moon stared at him, saw that he was cute, and gave him a drum as a gift. Once the monkey had learned to play the instrument, the moon sent him back to the earth hanging on a rope and with a warning: “Do not touch the drum until you have reached the ground. Only when I hear the sound, will I cut the rope.” But the monkey was so excited and that he played the drum before setting foot on land. The moon, hearing this, cut the rope and the white-nosed monkey plunged to the earth and was badly injured. A young girl found the poor dying monkey, who still had the strength to tell the story, and give her the drum. That was how the drum came to Africa. Since then people have  made many drums and play them when they are happy and also when they are sad. They are used at celebrations and also to communicate from afar. The moon loves to hear the rhythms and tenderly remembers the white-nosed monkey who was the first creature to reach the moon. 


Motivation for the retreat

Brother Eugène Kabambuka invited the participants to listen to their hearts as they contemplate the gift of the Marist charism. Champagnat was sensitive to the needs of the ignorant and a spirituality that made him passionate for Christ. He also found that gift in our "brotherhood." Africa puts it in the word "ubuntu," which means "I am because we are." He also recalled the acrobats at the Bomas, where each performer depended on the others. He cited an African proverb: "If you cross the river along with a multitude, the crocodile will not bite."

For the personal work time, each participant was given guiding questions: 

  • How do you feel about the future? 
  • What engages you? 
  • What is it that nourishes your answers?
  • How do you envision expressions of the Marist charism in 2030? 

Their task was to define three elements or features of these expressions. 

The Evening Prayer centred on Mary's visitation to her cousin Elizabeth making use of a variety of artistic representations of the gospel account. 


Afternoon

Participants met in their fixed groups to share their reflections and report back to the plenary. They were to envisage various expressions of forms of the Marist charism in 2030. The report back was done in a plenary session.

A first intuition was to see the expressions of the Marist charism as a "great charismatic family in the Church", consisting of "a network of groups or cells" with "diverse forms of meaningful and multicultural Marist communities, which share spirituality, life and mission and where the lay dimension is evident.” These Marist communities would be composed of “prophets” and “mystics” witnessing to brotherhood and communion, “taking care of and accompanying the Marist vocation".

 Another aspect is more focused on the creation of new structures: "creating a larger tent," a "new tent" with "structures that include all Marist vocations" and in which "those who identify themselves as Marist are recognized and respected".

A final aspect of the Marist charism deals with issues such as: "strengthening the culture of solidarity and voluntary networks"; "to promote mobile, international and mixed communities in each region with phrases such as "global availability" "missionary internationalism"; "a presence embodied in the national and international peripheries”. And it also strongly emphasises advocacy for youth: “Brothers and lay  committed to solidarity and justice"; "defending the rights of children and adolescents"; "involvement in social and political institutions."

 

Selecting priorities 

In the plenary we heard a summary of the contributions of the groups from which a number of key themes emerged: internationality, mystical-spirituality, youth, educational mission, vocation, periphery, communion, and children’s rights. Each participant was given two stickers, one red (first priority) and one colored yellow (second priority). Preferences were shown by placing one’s stickers next to the key ideas emerging from the group work. The photographic album in old.champagnat.org has some appropriate pictures of the process. The process helped the synthesis group in their work of producing a final document of the Assembly. 


Evening

The Assembly gathered for a Eucharist and after supper, the Marist regions of Europe and Africa presented aspects of their various cultures - culinary, artistic, musical, and tersichorean, the last-named involving participation of all with much fun and laughter. Brother Francis Lukong, president of the Conference of Provincials of Africa, took the opportunity to warmly thank the organizers for choosing this continent to celebrate the Assembly. 

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AMEstaún, 24 September

Mission Assembly- Nairobi 2014

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