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Thresholds program

18/10/2016: General House

The Thresholds program, held at Manziana, ended on 12th October. It was for English-speaking Brothers, and began on 11th August. Twelve Brothers, from eleven different countries, participated. They came from various provinces: Southern Africa, Nigeria, District of West Africa, PACE (Province of Central East Africa), East Asia, South Asia, the District of the Pacific and Australia. 

The introduction to the program said:

“Just as a threshold invites us to open doorways and enter a new place this program invites the participant to look to the future with fresh perspectives, seeing from different angles, being mindful and to work at a renewed sense of themselves”. The program also aimed: “to make real the call of the General Chapter for, ‘A renewed sense of consecration firmly rooted in the Gospel, urging us to new ways of being Brother’” (Letter 21st General Chapter, 2009).

The program revolved around three main areas, all aimed at helping the participants to reflect on the consecrated life of the Religious Brother.

a) Community living and the Marist congregation

b) Human and spiritual life and growth

c) The historical-pastoral area (pilgrimages, visits and time for reflection).

In their final evaluation the Brothers were unanimously positive that they have experienced a well-planned program. They also highlight the good that the Thresholds program has opened up for them at this time of their lives. 

In regard to community living and the Marist Brothers congregation there were presentations and times of reflection about "Fraternal Dialogue", "Missionary Heart", "Opening Doors", "Personal and Collective leadership," and, a key subject for today, "Identity and Mission of the Religious Brother in the Church." One of the participants referring to this block points out: "All of these inputs were excellent and helped me to discover the richness of the Institute, trying to respond to the current challenges it is facing on the levels of mission, spirituality and communion. I return to my province enriched with everything I have received here. I hope to put all this richness to the service of others."

In the human and spiritual life area there were sessions on: "Keys to interiority," "Jesus, son of Mary," "Well-being and personal health," "Brothers, the dream of Fourvière" and the workshop "Realities for religious - love and be loved, vulnerability and flexibility." One of the participants shares on this area: "Listening to the speakers has helped me to discover my current reality and the moment I am living in both my religious and personal life. I am aware that not everything is easy, but I understand as well that psychological and spiritual tools I have at hand will help me to overcome the difficulties that I’ll be facing at this point in my life."

When we speak of a pastoral-historical area we are referring to the visits, pilgrimages, retreat days, solidarity experience. Here too, the participants underline the richness these experiences brought to them. It is precisely the "experiential character" of these activities that greatly pleased the participants. We mention here some of these activities: the pilgrimage to L'Hermitage, along with the Escorial group; the experience with refugees in the Capuchin convent of Montefiascone; the pilgrimage of the Holy Year with the "experience of the Holy Door" in St. Peter's; the recollections we have made and the visit to the General House, including the Congregation Archives. Many were the "praises" to these activities. One Brother writes: "Since long I have not done a so rich pilgrimage to the Marist places. The living explanation of the first Brothers and the pilgrimage to Le Puy and Taizé have shown me how much I am rooted in a tradition for which I am responsible for today's times. The experience of solidarity, the New International Communities and the experience of Taizé are aspects showing me the dynamic character of the charism. I cannot keep it for me alone. It is a charism for the Church and for the world. It is urgent to 'set out': this is also the invitation of the General Chapter and of Pope Francis."

Finally, a few comments from individual brothers that sum up their overall experience of the program: “An enriching experience”. “It has helped me to come back to my first ideals of Marist life, to when I was becoming a brother.” “It has challenged and affirmed me in just the right ways. It has allowed me to take time out to renew my life and my relationship with God … a real gift.” It has suited my needs very well.” “Timely as I look ahead to the next stage of my life.” 

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