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3 August

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Marist Ad Gentes III



The Church in Asia is inviting us to the dialogue

23/10/2007: Philippines

Here we are in Davao City, south of this beautiful island of Mindanao in the Philippines. A multicultural reality with a variety of religious groups and socioeconomic situations. A sample of Asia, the continent addressed by our Marist Ad Gentes Project.

If inculturation seems a great concern for the Church in Africa, an integral liberation in America, the Church in Asia is inviting us to focus out attention on DIALOGUE as a privileged method of Evangelization and a way of life. The Church documents which have pushed forward the conviction that MISSION and DIALOGUE are essentially linked together are: Redemptoris Missio and Dialogue and Proclamation. In this last document we read: “Proclamation and Dialogue are viewed, each one in its own place, as component elements and authentic forms of the one evangelizing Mission of the Church”. (D.P. 2)

The Church’s Mission is to communicate its vision in such a way that humankind may be transformed from within. Dialogue is a method of mutual knowledge and enrichment, a genuine two-way process in which both sides are called upon to listen and to speak freely, in obedience to the truth and respect for each other. To make this mutual enrichment possible, Dialogue requires the witnessing of one’s convictions and an honest exploration of the other’s convictions. Other cultures enrich our own. Other faiths and religions are a positive challenge to our own. We may learn from them and they may learn from us. And together we can collaborate for a better world and the coming of God’s Kingdom, a Kingdom of justice, love and peace.

As members of the Marist Ad Gentes Project, we are becoming more conscious of this and more willing to participate in this new missionary enterprise of our Institute. Our group, being international and crosscultural, gives us that opportunity already. The Asian context in which we are here in the Philippines, offers us a foretaste of the multicultural and multireligious continent of Asia. We continue our Orientation Program acquiring new insights and new skills to make Dialogue not only a means of a better exchange and communication, but an excellent method of Evangelization and a way of life.

Bro. Sean Sammon’s words in his last circular are a real challenge for all of us: “The mere fact that you or I are living and serving the Church in another country and culture can no longer be accepted as a proof that we are engaged in Mission Ad Gentes. More persuasive would be our involvement in a serious effort to embody our Faith in the local culture and engage in serious dialogue with those who do not share that Faith”. (Making Jesus known and loved – A new approach to Mission ad Gentes, p. 102)

In virtue of our Marist Charism and Mission, we, Marist Brothers are bound to get involved in that serious effort and dialogue with youth and children, specially with the less favored. Our Marist spirituality provides us with very important attitudes needed for that. We pray that the characteristic marial virtues of humility, simplicity and modesty, will help us to be, like Mary: attentive to God’s Word in our Asian Mission and ready to put it into practice, whatever the cost.

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