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The visit of the Brother Superior General to Rio Grande do Sul

03/10/2006: Brazil - Photo gallery

On the first day of his visit to the Marist Province of Rio Grande do Sul, 18th September, the Brother Superior General of the Marist Institute, Brother Seán Sammon, after having responded to the press, participated in the ceremony of welcome and visited the Archbishop of Porto Alegre, Archbishop Dadeus Grings. The Superior General stayed in the Province until the 30th September. During this period, he had contact with the brothers, the laypeople and the fraternities of the Champagnat Movement of the Marist Family through meetings which will took place in the schools, social centres, communities and houses of formation.

Having come from a visit to the Marist works in Paraguay, Brother Seán Sammon conversed with the journalists from the capital on the principal challenges that the Church and the Institute have to face today. He recalled the important role of education as a means of transforming the hearts and spirits of people, the importance of seeing differences as a richness and not as a threat in a world that is more and more internationalised and intercultural.
The Superior General illustrated his words with examples taken from his journeys and his contact with the most diverse social situations in the world, principally in Africa and in Asia. Sharing experiences is also a way of encouraging intercultural exchange in the Marist institution. “We are present today in seventy-six countries, at the service of half a million children and young people,” insisted the Brother Superior General.

Education
In order to evaluate the quality of education of a country or of a region, Brother Seán thinks that we must start with a question: “What do we want for the future of our young people?” And he recalled that Saint Marcellin Champagnat lived in a world in a crisis of innovation (France of the XVIII century), where the majority of his contemporaries sought responses in the past, whilst he turned towards the future.
From that, our Superior General claimed that, when we speak of education, we need to ask a few questions: “Do we accept our differences?” “Do we see them as threats or as a richness?” “What future do we want?” “What is our moral vision, what is our faith?” and “What role do we want to play in the world?”

About religious conflicts
When questioned on the possible Marist contribution in overcoming world inter-religious conflicts, Brother Seán thought that the first condition is to understand people as people, with their cultural differences. “Children are born in others’ hatred, they learn to hate. We must do everything possible to ensure that this does not happen,” he said. And he stated that our role is to calm the game in the case where a controversial situation is produced, so that this situation is not perpetuated and that those involved do not find any interest in maintaining the conflict in order to profit from the situation.

In the case of conflict, the Superior General invites all to wonder what is the objective of those who are involved and if there is not a possibility of dialogue, of pardon and of reconciliation. “Human relationships are very fragile,” he recalled. He added that this recommendation must also be applied to our daily reality, that we must know how to apologise, precisely because of this fragility in our relationships.

Commencement celebration
At the start of the afternoon, in the presence of about fifty brothers and laypeople who work in the various services of the Province, we had the ceremony of welcome of the Superior General. In the presence of the Brother Provincial, Brother Lauro Hochscheidt and of the Brother Vice Provincial, Brother Solimar Amaro, the successor of Saint Marcellin Champagnat was received during a time of prayer and reflection, organised by the Ministry Team.
In the message that he addressed to the participants, the Superior General spoke in French, translated by Brother Roque Salet, Provincial Econome. He thanked everyone for the welcome and recalled a few ideas about the times that the Institute is experiencing at the present moment. In recalling the start of Marcellin’s work, he stressed the lack of means available to the Founder in his circumstances: just two brothers and a great poverty in resources, but he had a dream that was the motivating element in launching this Institute which is today present in seventy-six countries. “Marcellin had as characteristics innovation and community work. He was an example of practical Christianity, uniting faith and action,” he recalled.

The Superior General recalled that the world is experiencing a time of intense change, that in the past there was a leader and a lot of disciples and today we are all called to be leaders in our different groups in order to change the world. “For us, Marists, the great project that we must have is the possible dream of change in the world,” he said. The mission must be assumed by brothers and laypeople, in a relationship of co-responsibility. “It is not a matter of the brother transmitting the spirituality to the layperson, but of discovering and drawing profit, in common encounters, of the different manifestations of the charism,” and he finished by reinforcing this message: dialogue and reconciliation are fundamental elements for the world of today.

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