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Encounter of the Marist European Conference



Superiors of Europe deal with the issue of migration and welcoming

02/12/2017: Italy

The European Marist Conference (CEM), made up of 10 members (two per province), held its twenty-second meeting in Syracuse, Italy, from Nov. 21 – 23. Syracuse was chosen for this meeting for a very simple reason: CEM members wanted to find locally the “New International Community” Syracuse, Project LaValla200>, established there since last year. From the dialogue that took place between the Community of Syracuse and the CEM, some interesting points stand out:

  • The Community is well established and working in several refugee reception centres that arrive in Italy, mainly from Africa, but also from Asia.
  • Lately, its work is carried out above all and in a more systematic way, in a Shelter Center called “CASA FREEDOM”. It is a center of “1st reception,” that means that the people that are welcomed are minors, under the age of 18.
  • The essential work of the MARISTAS (as they are known) is to help them, with all the staff of the Center, to integrate themselves into Italian society. Therefore, as a daily job, they teach them Italian.
  •  In addition to teaching Italian, members of the Community have other activities. Mario works at the Red Cross and Onorino in one of the jails of the city. In this work, they say, the most important thing is to “bring a little bit of humanity” into the relationships between those who welcome and those who are welcomed.

The CEM's study and reflection theme in this meeting was precisely: “Sicily: Migration and resources of welcoming.”

The CEM took the opportunity to learn about the establishment of the second “International Community” of the LaValla200> Project in European territory: the community of Moinesti, Romania. It is in its beginnings, which means: they have to look for a house, establish themselves regularly in the country; difficulties in obtaining permission for some elements of the Community; find the most convenient apostolate for the children of the region. In all this, Brother Antolín Santos of the Community of Bucharest is being a great guide and help for the members of this “Lavalla 200” Community.

In addition to this important topic in the CMS Agenda, other significant topics for the meeting were studied. They include:
  • Composition and lines of action for the five European CEM teams, that is: mission; youth and vocational ministry; communion of Brothers / Lay people; Brothers Today; child protection. There was talk of the possibility of creating a new European team in the field of economics.
  • Creation of a technical secretariat for the European mission team.
  • Chapter calls: How can they reach the entire European Marist world?

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