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The commitment of the Provinces to vocations

 

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

13/12/2007: Spain

The work on December 7 was centred on the commitment to vocations by the Provinces. How can we advance and improve the promotion of vocations?
Brother Seán introduced the day with a reflection on commitment to the pastoral of vocations developing two ideas: The first one, concerning the nature of the crisis which we face: He asked us to reinforce the Marist identity to make it significant and credible among the young people. Its vitality depends on clarity of identity. One of the problems for the Institute today is identity. Many define it as a function of what we do and of how many we are. Because of this, for years we have used numbers to express that vitality. An indicator of vitality was the desire to surpass the goal of 10.000 members. So a lay person could say: what can I do that a Brother cannot? But identity does not consist in what we do but in what we are in the Church today. The role of the religious consists in being the living example of what the Church should be. The anchorites did not go into the desert to carry out an apostolate but to be reminded of the essence of the Church. Champagnat did not found an army of catechists but rather he founded us to remind the Church of the necessity for catechesis. The vitality of a religious institution is based on fidelity to its identity, being the living reminder of the Church.

The second idea centred on the dangers presented by this crisis through which we are living, as well as the opportunities it offers. Seán finished by issuing a challenge and also words of encouragement. We have to believe in our vocation. I have great hope in Europe because we are looking at Marist life throughout the whole continent. And he invited all the provincial Councils to ensure that the plans that are made must be a challenge for all the Brothers, and an opportunity for working together on a regional scale.

Working meeting of the provincial Councils

After this address some time was given over to personal reflection on these issues and then the participants shared their reactions in small groups responding to this question: How can we advance and improve at provincial level?

Each one of the Provinces gave their answer explaining what is already being done to find out what changes need to be made or what plans of action should be put forward. The emphasis is always on the Brothers themselves and their community life: The Brothers continually pray for vocations. It is necessary to increase that interest in vocations between the Brothers and the lay people. Let us continue to deepen the vocation of the Brothers, encouraging them to discover its meaning and to live it with happiness. To reinforce the formation of the Brothers to discover the joy of being Brothers. They should study the map of the Province in order to analyze where the Brothers are, where the works are, in order to prioritize certain presences with reference to the young people. It is somewhat similar to the solidarity that we showed earlier in our free time, but which has now become a structured presence.

There are other proposals to foment the culture of vocations, employing the particular document already produced by each Province. Of great importance is the need to take care of the leadership, so that the Brothers who are able to be in contact with the young people are not always involved in administration. It is necessary to prioritize the positions of the Brothers dedicated to this pastoral work.

There is talk of adding a chapter to the ongoing formation of the Brothers which would be dedicated to the vocational pastoral. An initiative has been mentioned of giving to each community a commissioning letter on mission which would concentrate on three things: the testimony of the Brothers as consecrated persons, the vocational pastoral and the pastoral mission. It also concentrates on highlighting the importance of the community as an agent of vocational pastoral. The projects of community life should look at the visibility of the specific vocation of the Brother. To be aware of the importance of the community today within the school. To accompany the new communities that are being created to help them live the essence of our vocation. And to help the Brothers to work well as superiors and animators of community.

The other axis being the candidates: To reinforce the formation and accompaniment of the candidates, to facilitate the preparation of the Brothers in the accompaniment of young people, to be present in their journeys of the growth in faith through our Marist spirituality. We should introduce the topic of vocation into voluntary work. We should dedicate time and personnel for vocational accompaniment in each place. We should encourage welcoming communities so that they become focuses of vocational promotion. We should follow up the vocational pastoral in the Province.

It is necessary to continue developing the youth pastoral and within that to raise interest in the vocational awakening of more mature young men. We should make Mary and Marcellin known, developing the resources that we already have. We should strive for a greater presence of Brothers and lay people among the young people.

There is a suggestion that the provincial web-site can be a good means of advertising our Marist existence and that it is a good idea to invest in people for that purpose.

When we speak of vocational promotion it is necessary to point to the mission. There should, therefore be a stronger investment in people and methods for the personal accompaniment of young people. Forming lay people as vocational agents. Rethinking the pastoral in the schools. There is a Province that intends to carry out, in the month of September 2008, a provincial Assembly dedicated to the question of vocations which will include Brothers and lay people. Others speak of organizing retreats for the same purpose. The importance is also underlined of identifying spaces to investigate the explicit proposal to become a Brother: Do you want to be a Marist Brother?” To promote meetings with young people in order to listen and hold dialogue about how they see the Brothers.

All these concerns were carried to the Eucharist with which the work of the day ended.


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