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Preparation for the “One Heart, One Mission” international mission assembly in Brazil

07/03/2007: United States

In preparation for the “One Heart, One Mission” international mission assembly in Brazil in September, regional gatherings are being held throughout the Province in order to provide input for those attending the assembly who will help guide the future direction of Marist mission throughout the world.

To date regional gatherings have been held in New York/New Jersey and Texas. A Chicago gathering will be held on February 28, and gatherings are planned for Massachusetts and Florida.

The One Heart One Mission gatherings that have been held to date have proved to be good opportunities for brothers and lay people to share their sense of Marist mission at this early part of the 21st century.

Out gatherings have five themes for discussion: My Sense of Marist Mission; American Youth Culture; The Catholicity of the American Teenager; Among the Young, Especially the Most Neglected; and Sharing Our Call as Marists.

Here are some of the main points from the OHOM gatherings held in NY/NJ and Texas.

My Sense of Marist Mission
• Being present to young people, “loving them all equally” may mean leaving my “comfort zone.”
• Creating a ministry and a culture of “presence” among young people.
• In the spirit of Marcellin – a quiet witnessing of what we believe as Marists.
• Communicating joy and enthusiasm for what we do.
• Overcome any reluctance to speak about our faith and our Marist vision.

American Youth Culture
• We are troubled by a lack of absolutes which have created a sense of “moral relativism.” for our youth.
• Manipulation of young people by the media.
• The media’s desensitization of young people to issues around us.
• The “divided life” caused by the Internet: the actual person vs. the internet persona. Each can be drastically different.
• While we are concerned, we are also hopeful because American teenagers are adaptable, tolerant, generous, and open to differences.
• American teenagers are more globally aware than their peers of a generation ago.

The Catholicity of the American Teenager
• Teenagers do not have a “language” with which to articulate their faith/religious experience.
• For many Catholic high school teenagers, the school is their only experience of Church.
• Parents are the “first teachers.” If they do not go to church, it is unlikely that their children will.
• The American Church is weak in ministering to the young.
• We need to help our kids develop a sense of Marist/Catholic identity to overcome a prevalent sense of “religious relativism.”
• Young people are seeking mystery/spirituality. How do we help them find that in a Marist school?

Among the Young, Especially the Most Neglected
• Our kids are challenged by competing cultures: the culture of the Marist school and the culture outside the school.
• The family structure is quite different today than it was a generation ago. Teachers can be significant role models for our young people.
• We need to challenge ourselves to be counter-cultural with values rooted in the Gospel.
• We need to challenge our kids to be counter-cultural with values rooted in the Gospel.
• How do we deal with “the not yet good”?
• “Reading the signs of the times” is not just some pious expression. It is a radical challenge. Are we up to it?

Sharing Our Call as Marists
• The lived experience of our lay colleagues stretches our experience of Marist vision and mission.
• The Marial quality of the brothers’ lives creates an atmosphere of community where people are met with gentleness, understanding, and love.
• Family spirit, community, compassion, prayer, love of vocation, being rooted in Jesus make both lay people and brothers Marist.

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