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Building networks, building the future



Meeting of the CEM in Athens

03/11/2015: Greece - Photo gallery

The Marist European Conference, also known as the CEM, met in Athens from Oct. 26 – 28.  Five provincials, a provincial councillor of each province and the secretary of the CEM participated. A Brother who collaborated in the translation also took part. Brothers Ernesto Sánchez and Antonio Ramalho, the two councillors who serve as links to Europe, attended. Two elected Provincials, who do not belong to the CEM, were invited on this occasion.

On one morning, they worked with the European Mission Team and the Secretariat of Mission from Rome, who held their meetings at the same time during those days in Athens. The group got to know the various Marist works of Athens (two schools and social work), plus some significant places of Greek history and culture. The days of the meeting included fraternal generosity in the welcoming offered by the Brothers and the laity of Athens.


1. A network of Marist European schools

This was the topic of reflection of the CEM in Athens. Due to its importance, the reflection was made in conjunction with the European Mission Team. The tone set a good dialogue on the issue. There is the feeling that it is inevitable nowadays to work as a NETWORK. There is an initial consensus and will to move in this direction in Europe. We will all benefit from building a NETWORK. The effort is worthwhile to develop it, respecting the pace of each participant. In the future, one can think not only about a network of Marist schools, but also about a network of Marist social works. The CEM asked the European Mission Team to take on responsibility of writing a first draft to be presented at the meeting of the CEM in Lisbon in May 2016. We feel that this is a good time to continue taking steps toward a common mode of action, taking into account the experience of other regions and other bodies or congregations who have done similar experiences.


2. Network of European communities and new international communities

The Conference also covered the topic of the new international communities and another issue somewhat related to this, the Network of European Communities.

Regarding this aspect, the existence of this network is seen as something very positive.

After hearing the Brothers Today team responsible for that network, the minutes of the meeting in Athens state the following:

“This is not to set up a new structure, but to find ways to encourage and maintain the fire in those communities. How can we shore more at a spiritual level? The presence of the laity was something new in this encounter (of Escorial from Aug. 8 – 12, 2015). Following up these communities and continue to maintain links between them. In this second meeting of communities, there was a greater sense of Institute and more openness to realities beyond their own province.”

In the same way, the new communities should ask themselves how they can have a strong Marist spirituality and how it can and should influence its mission together with the most vulnerable. A mission to carry out with the Marist laity, with members of other congregations and with people of good will who want to live this future mission in communion: a joint mission to make the merciful face of God and the Marian face of the Church present among those most in need.

There is a common component in all projects that have been reflected upon: to be close to immigrant and displaced children and youth, who have serious deficiencies at different levels. These projects will be sent to the general council to form part of the Institute’s project “International Communities for a New Beginning.” 


3. Child immigrants and displaced people; the bicentenary celebration; other topics

The provinces presented a long list of actions they are doing to respond to the call of Pope Francis and the superior general. The future will consolidate many of those actions.

In the same way, there was a lot of time given to reflect on the celebration of the bicentenary. They reflected in a special way on the international encounter of Marist youth (of the four branches) in Lyon as well as the day in which the promise of Fourvière will be celebrated, 23 July 2016. The teams of the CEM will pass the information to the provinces so that the participation in these events can be well prepared, deep and effective.

Finally, completing the agenda items, the CEM shared on the various activities of the European teams and organisational matters.

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