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The HORIZONS Program



El Escorial Marist Spirituality Center

05/02/2008: Spain

A new, on-going formation program will get under way in the month of April. It was conceived as an initiative of the Religious Life Commission with the General Council’s support. The program, named HORIZONS, is aimed at Brothers who are around thirty years of age. The “horizon” in question is the one which invites a Brother to look beyond himself, to undertake a pilgrimage, to search, to move out of the places where he lives and works. It is upon the heights that one perceives the breath of the horizon. If you do not climb, you do not get the vision.

The reason for creating the program lies in the importance of the stage of life in question, a time for stabilizing one’s life-project before God, a time for strengthening one’s commitment to the call that God has given. The stage of life is one for which, in general, no special formation program has been offered, at either Province or Institute levels. The two months being proposed would assist the effort of interiorizing personal growth, of establishing a basis for such growth. The process begins in the call one has been given by God to live life at the heart of the Marist charism.

The outline of the program was developed after consulting with young Brothers and Brothers with formation experience. The themes are based on a weekly rhythm, and they highlight key elements of human and religious growth which arise during the stage of life concerned. Among those who are playing key roles in the program are: Brothers Sean, Benito, Pau, Lluís Serra, Jaume Parés, Josep M. Soteras, Afonso, Javier. In addition, there are: José Luis Martínez (Augustinian), Jesús Espeja (Dominican), Pepa Torres (female apostolic religious), Cosme Puerto (Dominican), Maite Melendo (lay person), Pilar Liso (Theresian Sister).

The course work is basically experiential, helping the participant to understand his experience in a new way, to put it into words, to reflect upon it and to share it. All of that is to be accomplished with a healthy dose of personal effort. Among the various pedagogical tools are a weekly interview and small group dynamics. We wish to provide a path of personal interiorization which should help the Brother develop his relationship with God and with his confreres, and to experience the gift of community. The personal interiorization would help him get out of his routines so as to investigate and explore, something necessary if one wishes to find the paths by which God is directing the way ahead.

The participants are invited to compose a few pages regarding their personal story as a way of preparing for the program. The exercise reinforces the course methodology, evidently more experiential than doctrinal. Such a manner of proceeding responds to the desire of “drinking from one’s own well.” It seeks to help the participant understand and accept his personal history, as a springboard for the two months’ experience.

For the Escorial Team, the new program is a challenge which is shared by our Provinces. The goal is to develop the vitality and quality of life of the Brothers in the age group concerned. While we are still in the process of preparing the program, we ask the prayers of those who share the same challenge.

Br. Javier Espinosa.

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