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Interview with Dilma Alves Rodrigues, member of the preparatory Commission of the Assembly of Marist Mission

07/02/2008: Brazil

Dilma Alves Rodrigues - works in the social area of the Province of Brasil Centro Norte and she was a member of the organizing Commission of the International Assembly of the Marist Mission. She is one of two women who took part in the preparations for the Assembly and one of people in charge of coordinating the work carried out in Mendes. During a short break, after coffee, we had a conversation with her.

AMEstaún. What was your personal experience in the course of the Assembly?
Dilma Alves.
As a participant in the Assembly, I see the meeting as a divine gift, a grace received, since we were generating a new moment in the Institute. Everything happened with a lot of joy and fraternity. It was a group very open to the calls of God, to the inspiration of the Spirit to build something together, going beyond our own points of view, and including personal convictions, to be integrated in the common movement that I believe is a new Pentecost in the Marist Institute.

You participated in the preparation of the meeting and you probably had great expectations in connection with the Assembly. Were those expectations fulfilled?
The meeting, certainly, fulfilled my expectations. I hoped we would go away from it with something very significant and revealing for the Institute. But the spirit with which everything was lived, and the vision that all of the participants carried on their way to Mendes, greatly surpassed my expectations. There were things that they consolidated there, and there was also a great call that many of the convictions that we already have were really present in our daily personal and community life, as well as in the educational, social and pastoral works.

Regarding the future, what paths do you think are opening up starting from the Assembly?
Those who took part in the Assembly, as well as those who were at home, each one inside their own reality, will walk in a new way, opening new horizons. We will make a path as we advance. Everyone, listening to the call of the Assembly, will find a way to give meaning to what happened in Mendes.

The Assembly had Brothers and lay people. The lay word was heard a lot. How was the womans presence in the Assembly?
The women, who were present, received a special call from God. They were less in number, but they had a strong will to take part, and they contributed in a significant way and with a lot of sensibility to the success of the Assembly.

Does the final document pick up all that was said in the meeting? Do you believe that it is a good synthesis?
Yes, I believe so. There were even times when the groups that worked on each topic went beyond their own convictions and wishes to give space to what the Assembly judged to be more important. Perhaps some people have left Mendes rather less satisfied with the document than I did, but certainly it reflects what the Assembly wanted to communicate.

Mary and Marcellin were very much present during the Assembly. How did you see that presence?
Every day, in the morning, we attempted to embody Mary’s spirit, her caring spirit, her maternal spirit, and we remembered that we were there to follow the dream of Saint Marcellin Champagnat. That was the great call.

The house of Mendes itself, the place, did it have something special to offer the meeting?
Most certainly. Brother Claudino, provincial of Brasil Centro-Norte, made a great impression on us when he said that we were standing on sacred ground. The great meaning that Mendes has for the Marists of Brasil influenced us in a very interesting way. Certainly it encouraged us and gave us a new spirit.

What impression do you have of the work of the preparatory Commission? Hows did you feel being part of the team?
I have taken part in diverse commissions throughout my life, inside and outside the Marist world. This was, perhaps, the most significant, being an international commission. We were diverse in our way of thinking and of doing things, and everything worked with wonderful integration. Now that we have finished, I am nostalgic for the group.

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