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II Marist International Mission Assembly

 

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27 Saturday: Helping the dawn to be born

27/09/2014: Kenya
Mission Assembly- Nairobi 2014

The time has arrived to spread throughout the world the wisdom found in this II IMMA, the riches of the hidden treasure which has been discovered among everyone. Guided by the wisdom of the Gospel, it is necessary to die in order to give life, to be broken in order to reach everyone. Because if the grain of wheat, once sown, does not die, it remains without fruit. But if it dies, it produces much fruit. The participants in the II IMMA return to the paths of the world in order to face together the future of the Marist charism as a challenge to help the dawning of a new Marist life and strengthen what exists, doing it with more creativity, fidelity and energy. Our time is a time of creativity.

 

Father Ananzi 

One last story has been heard in the space “Voices of the fire”. It was the African story of how wisdom was spread through the world. Once upon a time in the Cameroons there lived a man called Father Ananzi who possessed all the wisdom in the world. The fame of his wisdom extended throughout the whole land, even to its most remote corners, and everyone came to ask his advice and learn from him. But some people began to behave badly and Ananzi became angry with them. So he thought of a way to punish them. After lengthy and profound meditation, he decided to deprive them of wisdom, hiding it in such a distant and unknown place that no one could find it. And so putting all his secrets in a pitcher, he sought to hide it in the top of a tree. But when his son, Kweku Tsjin, saw his father going so mysteriously and cautiously from one place to another with his pitcher, he thought to himself: “This thing that my father is hiding must be something important”. And he proposed to watch his movements carefully. One night, when everyone was asleep, the father came to a clump of palm trees, looked for the most slender of them and began to climb with the pitcher of wisdom tied on top of his head. While he was climbing, the pitcher which contained all the wisdom in the world, did nothing but roll around. The ascent was becoming very complicated. His son, Kweku Tsjin, began to shout to him:

— “Father, why don’t you hang this precious pitcher on your shoulder? Climbing like that, with the pitcher on your head, is going to be impossible!” When Ananzi heard these words, he looked down and said:

— “Son, I thought I had put all the wisdom in the world in this pitcher, but now I realize that my own son is giving me a lesson in wisdom”.  And disillusioned he dropped the pitcher of wisdom on a stone and it broke into a thousand pieces. And, as can be imagined, all the wisdom of the world spilled out and spread to all the ends of the earth.

 

Helping the dawn to be born

Brother Emili began his closing speech for the II IMMA by recalling the happy intuition of Brother Basilio in the post-conciliar period, when he proposed to the Institute the task of   “awaking the dawn and helping it to be born”. This Assembly is “one step more towards the dawn of a new beginning for the Institute”, he affirmed, adding: “This Assembly, will make a significant contribution to this dawn of a new day for the Institute, especially through the commitment of the persons who are here”. 

And with his gaze fixed on the horizon, he offered those today leaving Nairobi the “image or parable of the swamp” to express where we are going. The space in which we are called to carry out our mission is similar to a swamp or marsh, which is found between land and ocean, in a marginal locality, where no one would normally go to live. If someone is there, it is because he has been excluded, he goes there to find others who are sunk in the mire, without possibility of a future. A place of danger, disease, where you do not know what is beneath your feet. There are no tracks, but you have to move forward. It is hard to walk in the middle of the mud, it requires a particular strength not to give up, not to turn back. At the same time, it is a place of biodiversity, full of life. A mysterious place which recalls the creation of the world, with the Spirit moving over the chaos, offering the possibility of a new creation, a new beginning.

On the basis of the word “swamp”, he made an acrostic which recalls 5 elements important for our journey: “S” for “spirituality” (because as Marists we can see ourselves as “evangelizers with the Spirit”); “W” for “we” (expressing the communion between all Marists) “A” for “at risk” (with reference to our mission among children and young people at risk, as well as the invitation to personally take risks for the Kingdom); “M” for “Mary” (seeing that we have the privilege of bearing her name and because “she inspires our way of being brothers and sisters in the Church”); “P” for “pledge” (promise, in connection with the promise of Fouvière, which makes manifest the firm and coherent commitment of each one).

He concluded by quoting the words of Brother Francis Lukong who, in the name of the Marists of the African continent, had said some days earlier: “Thank you for coming to Africa. Fear did not make you stay home”. “I too” –said Br Emili- “allow myself to repeat in the name of the Institute: thank you for accepting the invitation and taking risks. We sensed that coming to Africa was going to make the difference. We know today it was the correct decision”.

This was followed by tributes of gratitude to the Central Commission for the hard work achieved, the General Council for the drive it had given to the II IMMA, and the participants themselves for their enthusiasm and efficiency. As a visual record, there was a projection of selected photos recording the major moments lived during these days. By way of colophon, Brother Tony Leon explained the significance of the map which adorned one of the walls of the room. At the beginning, he outlined a map with the poles reversed in comparison with the maps of the world which most were familiar with. This map gradually was converted into an expression of how much had been lived in the Assembly. Twenty-nine crosses indicated the twenty-nine administrative units of the Institute in which the fire of Africa had been enkindled through the Assembly. Today it is the map which all those at the assembly need to follow in order to find the treasure of the Marist charism. Br Tony concluded his presentation by inviting the participants to place their names on the lower part of the map, indicating that all were authors of the work.

The final gesture of this act of closing the meeting consisted in collecting the signatures of the   participants on a card which each could take away as a souvenir.

The morning finished with the Eucharist of missioning. The first reading was the history of the promise of Fourvière. In the offertory procession there were twenty-nine posters, one for each   province, district or sector announcing the beginning of the triduum, with the Montagne Year (2014-2015), which will lead the Institute to the celebration of its bicentenary. 

After communion, Br Emili proceeded to send the participants out to carry the good news of the Assembly to the whole Institute. The gesture began with the reading of the anecdote in which   Champagnat presented Br Jean Pièrre Martinol with a roll of blessed bread to take with him on his journey. But Br Jean Pièrre kept it in his bag in order to share it with the brothers. This roll of blessed bread is the message of the II IMMA which all the participants will take away in their suitcases to share with the communities. Together with the bread to share, they each received a decorated ceramic plate, the handcraft of African women.

Thus closed days of intense fraternity and living together, which will be continued in all the parts of the Marist world.

And this chronicler takes his leave, grateful for the attention given to the graphic reports and the written communications with which we have intended to provide the best information about this event.

______________

AMEstaún, 27 October

Mission Assembly- Nairobi 2014

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