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II Marist International Mission Assembly

 

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Friday 26: Igniting Lives

26/09/2014: Kenya - Photo gallery
Mission Assembly- Nairobi 2014

This poem motivated the day:

Igniting lives, dreaming together of a better world for children and young people. 
Igniting lives with a vision full of hope. 
Igniting lives with Champagnat’s same boldness and creativity.
Igniting lives as part of God’s loving plan for our world. 
Igniting lives with respect for creation. 
Igniting lives as part of a project of solidarity with all human beings, especially the marginalized.

 

The legend of Bamako 

We listened to an African narrative, The Legend of Bamako, as part of the “voices of fire”:

Long, long time ago, when the night was dark, gloomy and impenetrable, and the moon was not shining, a young woman named Bamako lived in the village of Bamako. She was very beautiful and kind.

One day, some soldiers who came from the north attacked the village of Bamako, and all those nearby. They only fought at night, hiding during the day. Bamako’s friends confronted them bravely, but they did not know how to fight during the night.

One night the god N’Togini appeared to Bamako and said: ‘Djambe, my son, who lives in a cave by the river, has been in love with you for a long time. If you agree to marry him, he will take you to the sky, where you will shine every night. Your people will not have to fight in the dark, as you will light up the night’. 

Bamako, very bravely, followed the god’s instructions without hesitation. Djambé took her to the sky, as his father had promised. The brightness of her big eyes illuminated the dark sky.

That night, the villagers achieved a decisive victory and expelled their enemies. Since then, the bright face of Bamako has been on the sky every night.

The plenary session began by studying a synthesis of the challenges and opportunities drafted by the group in charge, which made a tremendous effort and worked for hours. The final text was gradually emerging.

 

Meeting by Regions

The Assembly was already looking forward to the following day. Working in regional groups, people discussed about how to communicate the II MIMA experience to the Regions and Administrative Units, and what to suggest in the Regional Assemblies. A picture of each regional group was taken during this meeting, and a general picture after lunch.

The Province of Southern Africa led Marial prayer to start the afternoon. They motivated the Assembly by using African faces of Mary and texts from the Marist documents.

 

Reading the II MIMA draft document

The text prepared by the drafting commission was handed to the Assembly for final analysis by Mary Luciana Citterio, a young Argentinian who spoke in a way that reminded Pope Francisco, her fellow citizen. During the reading, the atmosphere was full of a growing excitement that exploded in a final applause, which sealed the participants’ endorsement.

The text was structured as follows: introduction; presentation of the three dreams; challenges and substantive questions; a long statement about the opportunities for a greater vitality of the Marist charism and mission; and a few closing lines.

 

Content of the message

The text opens with a reference to the origin of the first humans “in this African land”, and how they set out from here “heading towards new lands” and “generating a diversified humankind”. “The Creator Spirit decided, 150 thousand years later, that some of them would return to the African land for a new beginning, and summoned us, as Marists of Champagnat, to celebrate the II Marist International Mission Assembly in Nairobi, Kenya”. 

This is a fragment of an extensive preamble that refers to some of the attitudes we lived during the preparatory phase, guided by the example of Mary, and also highlights the feelings prevailing among the participants: “Like a new Pentecost, the Spirit ignited our hearts and prompted us to dream new horizons for a greater vitality of the Marist charism”. The text then underlines the dimension of “communion with the local Churches and the whole universal Church”, recalling the invitation by Pope Francis to “move forward on the path of pastoral and missionary conversion, which cannot leave things as they are”. It goes on developing the Assembly’s reflection, in tune with the bicentennial of the Marist Foundation: “Together we have imagined a new story in which prophecy, mysticism and communion are the distinctive traits mirroring us, through which we are recognized as Marists of Champagnat”. It states that, in order to be faithful “to the legacy of the I Marist International Mission Assembly held in Mendes (Brazil), we were called to be New Marists in Mission and tried to scrutinize the new expressions of the Marist charism, looking at the horizon of the third centennial”. Then the text speaks of the dream that “the Marists of Champagnat may be recognized as prophets, mystics, and men and women who live in communion”. After this statement, it explains the contents of the dream through a number of proposals for action.

The text then describes five challenges “in order to become more significant”:

  • Generating the necessary processes to promote and accompany the Marist vocation and communities in their different expressions.
  • Cultivating the dimension of contemplation and interiority that sustains and feeds our life and mission.
  • Recreating the structures we need to promote a greater vitality of the Marist charism.
  • Overcoming the fears and resistances about moving to the peripheries and promoting the rights of children and young people.
  • Promoting “inter” processes (international - intercultural - intercongregational - interecclesial), which favor the Marist Mission in new lands.

Each challenge includes a series of questions to help analyze reality and the attitudes when addressing the challenge. Then follows a long list of opportunities, which can foster greater vitality for the Marist charism and mission. And the document closes by “thanking our good God for granting us this experience of encounter and communion”.

 

Evaluation

Another important moment of this day was the written evaluation of the Assembly. Thanks to an evaluation grid, the participants expressed their opinion about the organization of the Assembly and the different group dynamics that were part of the work method. After the evaluation, the group received some guidelines to organize their departure from Nairobi. And then the women participating in the II MIMA asked for a photo as a memento of their large group.

 

Celebrating fraternity 

The representatives of Santa María de los Andes animated an intense celebration of the fraternity that united the participants throughout the Assembly. It started with a dance that created an atmosphere of contemplation and interiority. Then the 12 small communities in which the participants shared life and reflection during the Assembly gathered again. Each small community received a piece of bread and a glass of water. They broke the bread and shared it. Then the person who coordinated the work in each small community took the water and marked his or her companions with the sign of the cross on the front. These gestures of communion and blessing concluded with an embrace while praying the Our Father. They were moments of intense emotion and tears flowed with no shame.

 

“Asante Kwaheri”

With their hearts full of joy, all participants moved to an open space for a cold meal. During the “Asante Kwaheri” party (“thanks and see you soon!”), full of African rhythm, the group listened to the MIC musical band, and to a group of young participants who composed a song on the occasion of the II MIMA.

During the party, the organizers thanked the Sisters from the three houses that accommodated the participants for the care and services they kindly provided. They also expressed their gratitude to the Central Commission, the work teams, the MIC, the Province of Central-East Africa, and some guests, for contributing to the success of the Assembly.

This is how a historic day ended, a day in which the II MIMA handed to the “charismatic family” of the “Marists of Champagnat” a new contribution to enliven their charism and mission. The rich text that was made public at the II MIMA will go down in history as a turning point in the relationship between brothers and laity.

_____________________

AMEstaún, September 26

Mission Assembly- Nairobi 2014

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