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Saints Andrew Kim, Paul Chong & companions
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Marist Calendar - September

Experience and Youth



Mission ad Gentes Davao - Group 6

13/02/2009: Philippines

When Mission ad Gentes was just getting under way, some people were asking, “But where are the young Brothers? How come most of the participants in the Davao groups are Brothers of a certain age?” Well, now you can have an answer to your question, “Here we are,” was the response of Group 5 Davao, and now the same is true for Group 6, largely made up as it is of young Brothers. In our group, Max and Pietro are the veterans of youthful heart who bring to the session the fruits of their apostolic experiences and labors. The remainder of the group, for its part, is comprised of: forty-three year old Andrew, and then the remaining who fall between twenty and thirty years of age: César (39), Ramón (36), Natalino e Ismael (31), Pedro (27), Marcos (25) and Edilson (24).

The present Davao group, therefore, might be given the nickname, “Experience and Youth.” Despite the differences of age and experience, every single participant feels a great desire to turn Marcellin’s dream into a reality. In addition, we encounter openness, depth and earnestness, the kind of qualities that are needed in order to make a solid commitment to the discernment process and the strength needed to leave ourselves open and free to the action of the Holy Spirit according to what the Spirit wills.

Here in the middle of the fourth week of the program the enthusiasm is evident. Everyone is taking part wholeheartedly and cheerfully, and a certain rambunctiousness is not absent. To observe the atmosphere of personal prayer on the one hand, and on the other, the group’s creativity in community prayer is very inspiring.

Of course, challenges are never very far away. The setting of the program and its pace have put an abrupt stop to the way of living which have known up to now. It has not been easy to make the quite drastic change from lives filled with activity and peppered with relationships: family, friends, colleagues, students. Nor has it been effortless to give up a certain level of privacy to which we had become accustomed.

Here in Davao the mornings are spent in sessions dealing with various topics, while the evenings are left free for personal work. Along with such activities, many are the occasions – in the mornings and the evenings – when we need to share, not only our ideas and experiences, but also how we are feeling, what we are thinking, our struggles and our hopes.

The challenges therefore, are varied: organizing one’s personal time efficiently; facing up to oneself with sincerety and honesty in the extended periods of time provided for self-reflection, sometimes disturbing, sometimes just interior silence; taking the risk of letting others know something of one’s hidden side as a way of getting to know the confreres more deeply, and, not just some, but all of them; to pay attention to what the Lord is asking of us and allowing ourselves to be touched by the experiences we have with others, here in our community as well as with people outside the community, and in the events we experience away from the community; to discern what is the will of God in our regard; to begin transforming the usual ways in which we relate to family and friends; to face up to the challenge of building a more fraternal community-life, one that is more given to dialogue and collaboration, more inclusive in its outreach. Finally, amidst all such challenges, one tries to pick up the challenge of learning how to live in a country not one’s own, a country with its history, culture, staple foods, way of looking at life; and while making such adaptations to try to learn, understand and value the differences found amongst the participating Brothers as regards character, age, life story, mentality and vision.

Often the experience here seems to be like a novitiate . . . and certainly, similarities exist. Consequently we need your support and your prayers. We are conscious that many Brothers and many other people too are praying for us, and we are deeply grateful for such support. We know that we are but the bearers of the generosity and magnanimity of all of you who have made possible, and are continuing to make possible our being in a position to respond, here in this place, to the call that God is making to us, to all of us - that we be truly his witnesses to the ends of the earth. We know that we “hold this treasure in earthen vessels,” but all the same that “his power is greater than our weakness.” We hold all of you in our hearts. Be assured that we remember you, and we often pray for you. And, in the midst of all our activities, each of us “to give thanks for the life that he has given me in abundance.”

Greetings and affection from all of us in Davao.

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