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General Council meets with the Provincial Councils of FMS Europe - II

10/12/2007: Spain - Photo gallery

The joy of meeting up with so many brothers was celebrated with a short welcome and simple greeting from Brother Seán Sammon, Superior General, followed by a meal.
He himself explained the reason for this meeting, affirming, by means of an anecdote that crises often give us the opportunity to attain very creative solutions. In this way he wanted to underline the positive attitude that it is necessary to adopt when faced with the critical situation of vocations in the Institute and particularly in Europe. Seán congratulated the provincials on their courage in tackling this topic with such an important regional meeting: “You are agreed that in this meeting of the enlarged General Council the topic of vocations is considered as a high-priority. Our Brothers are concerned about the future of our mission.

And he continued to reinforce this idea: The reflection that took place during Vatican II is the richest that has been carried out in the Church since the Middle Ages and accordingly enormous changes have taken place. With the Church the Institute has also lived through great changes since those times. But the vocational crisis continues to affect the whole Institute and continues being a concern in all the regions of our Institute. As a goal for a possible evaluation of the actions undertaken concerning this problem mention was made of a significant date which is coming up. Within ten years the third centennial of the foundation of the Institute will take place . Will there be creative solutions by then?

The expectations that each one brought to this meeting were shared in small groups. How do I feel at the beginning of this meeting concerning the topic of vocations? What are my fears? What are my hopes?

The contributions were varied and meaningful. There where those who felt well, willing to listen and willing to welcome suggestions and ideas”. For me this is no surprise. I have come willing to listen at this European forum, to find out what exists in other countries and to confront them. On the other hand, someone else pointed out that he felt quite confused and powerless. It was also commented that something new has to be born and something old has to die. The problem of vocation is a question of communication. Either our aim is not meaningful, or those who receive it do not understand it. “I think that it is necessary to offer a new paradigm of religious life, another suggested. And he also brought up the topic of evangelisation: Why do we invite the young people and for what?”

Fears were discussed: The fear of calling is the fear of calling oneself. I am afraid to be called to some place. Have there been Brothers who have been called to Mission ad Gentes and have responded, and why do I not respond? ““Maybe it is necessary for a Marist lifestyle to die so that new lives arise.”It worries me that we should become bigger and we do not see clouds on the horizon. It causes me a certain apprehension to see the attitude of Brothers who are not integrated in the world of the lay people”. I fear the individualism of some younger Brothers who base their vocation on their work, on what they do, but are not deeply rooted in religious life. “There is the fear of always raising the same questions without contributing enough creativity. It is possible that in some regions we are already too late in dealing with the generational difference and consequently we are no longer where the young people are.”

Hopes were also shared: “We have a significant presence in Europe but vocations do not follow. How much longer must we wait? “ “I have great hopes when I see that the Brothers are not alone, since we have many lay Marists among whom there is a lot of life.” Could we have an Ad Gentes in Europe? “I hope that new ideas arise from this European platform.”I hope we communicate the feeling that we need to generate before dying. The hope of living vocation in a dynamic of love. I love this young person so much that I cannot stop helping him to find God. The most valuable thing in my life: the call of God. Something new is being born and something old is dying but it is necessary to have the historical patience to accompany this birth and to allow it to flourish. Every time we speak of vocation we speak of something beautiful that is at the centre of our lives, that gives us energy that gives us life and which we feel the need to share. How can we combine the mission in Europe and the Mission ad Gentes in Asia?” I have many hopes, but few certainties. Hopes that the projects succeed, that the communities be a meeting place for the young people, that Brothers and lay people live committed to the mission, that the communities live centred in Christ and in the mission for the neediest young people.

With these perspectives the provincial councils of Europe have met for the first time. The coordination of the work of these days was done by Brothers Seán Sammon, Luis Sobrado García, Emili Turú, Ernesto Sánchez and Joe Mc Kee. They have a great responsibility. From our communities we accompany them through our prayers, together with Our Lord. and the Good Mother.

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