Home > News > Sri Lanka: General Conference - 2nd October

Wherever you go

Rule of Life of the Marist Brothers



  • News
  • 2019 | 2018 | 2017 | 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006 | 2005 | 2004
  • Most popular | Statistics
  • Calendar
  • The latest news


Social networking

Marist Brothers

RSS YouTube FaceBook Twitter



Calls of the XXII General Chapter


Archive of updates


Marist Calendar

20 September

Saints Andrew Kim, Paul Chong & companions
1936: Brother Eusebio was murdered in Barcelona. We also remember 58 other brothers who were killed in different places and at different times
2000: John Paul II blessed the statue of Saint Marcellin placed on the exterior wall of the Vatican Basilica

Marist Calendar - September

Departure from Negombo



General Conference - 2nd October

05/10/2005: Sri Lanka

A Parable for the Conference

<306b.jpg alt= hspace=5 vspace=5 align=right>I arrived at Negombo when the preparations for welcoming the brothers to the Conference were being finalised. The people were busying themselves here and there. The Goldi Sands Hotel was going to become a Marist house for a month. Little by little the places were adopting the necessary characteristics. The hotel’s hall was a privileged place for Marcellin and Mary who were greeting us with open arms. Posters, pictures and decorations gave a particular Marist feel.

On arrival on this beautiful island, we received a memorable welcome. At Maris Stella College, the words of a song composed by a brother expressed it well: “We welcome you, dear friends, on the land of this great continent which has seen the four great rivers of religion born, which flow towards the four corners of the earth. With affection and an open heart, we welcome you, dear brothers, on the land where the four doctrines that give spiritual comfort to humanity are developed with enthusiasm, on the land three times blessed by the feet of the Lord Buddha, in the resplendent paradise of Sri Lanka. We share the love of God with his sons spread throughout the world. Welcome, sons of Marcellin! Welcome to Asia! Welcome to Sri Lanka!”

The main picture in the meeting room of the Conference attracted my attention. The sailing boat of the Institute is sailing on an open sea, its sails at full bloom on the seas of Asia. The workers are busying themselves giving the last strikes of a hammer to fix the sign: VII General Conference, 5th to 30th September, Negombo – Sri Lanka. In the place that will serve as a chapel, someone has put a border around a white canvas where an artist has outlined a picture. You could already guess the form of Marcellin surrounded by children, still unfinished and without any colour. On the contrary, in the dining room, a picture coloured with simple but bright lines occupies a place of honour. There is a Marcellin in a brown tint surrounded by children with attractive faces. It expresses the daily activity in a college, giving praise to Marist education. Comparing the two pictures, I saw that one was finished and the other was not. I thought that they had not given enough time to the artist to finish it, but as the end sometimes explains the start, I understood that this canvas and this finished picture were like a parable for the Conference.

I know neither the author of the sketch, nor the subject that he wants to develop, but I believe it can be entitled “The Marist Mission in Asia”. That could be the motive of the unfinished picture which presided over all the liturgical celebrations in the improvised chapel of the hotel. The most defined lines are those of Champagnat. One can also recognise the lines of boys full of activity. But all is scarcely outlined in a few pencil lines.

<306.jpg alt= >The canvas stayed thus for the whole Conference, waiting for the final touches that would give it life and colour. Was this the intention of the artist? I asked at the start of the Conference if someone would come to finish the picture. Are we going to leave it like this? I heard a voice behind me: “And why not?” I had posed the question because I like to finish what I have started without too much delay. But on reflecting a bit, I agreed with the voice behind me. Why must works of art be finished and perfect? Art is like life taking form day by day. Each moment it leaves its reflection and shadow.

During the morning quiet time during the Conference, we remained silent for a long time in the chapel. This was like a “desert” day, as is proposed during recollection days or retreats. To transfer yourself physically or spiritually to a desert, as someone who flies over the Arabic peninsula from Aman to Rome, is to be placed like Jesus before the temptation that present the challenges of the future. Do I run the risk of saying yes to God or do I falter. The silence envelops the contemplation. We search for it as it gives birth to thought, intuition. A word will express it later… when the word is still in the silence and enriched with life.

After a long moment of contemplative silence the brothers were invited to write a word on the canvas, a significant phrase which summarised the Conference. The word is born from this silence which bathed the soul of the Conference. And in the silence there was the Word.

They asked for a word, a brief expression which summarised the sentiment that the work and the encounter of the Conference would leave in the heart. The words that the brothers wrote in their spelling and their languages were like the tongues of fire of Pentecost. The brothers were representing seventy-seven countries: China, Pakistan, Korea, Argentina, Canada, Philippines, Rwanda, Madagascar, Spain, the Netherlands, etc. All animated by one spirit, they expressed themselves in their own languages and were understood by all. These desires, these cries, these challenges, these promises and these sentiments completed the canvas: emarara, fogo, chiyembekezo, esperanza, kabataan, paga-sa ng vayan! , mipela amamasin yu, etc.

The VII Conference is finished. The picture stayed there with its canvas nearly white, an unfinished story but also an important step forward. Negombo prolongated Veranópolis and the two last General Chapters, by opening the Institute to the universal to which it had always aspired. This internationality that Champagnat and his brothers had started one day at the Hermitage with the desire to go to new dioceses.

<306a.jpg alt= >At Negombo, the picture of Champagnat expresses the new spirit that matured the VII General Conference. An unfinished picture, but one which offers a programme! In each Province of the Institute one will add the appropriate, typical, incultured lines. Each region will bring its own tonality and brilliance. The shadows will also be present; we need to count on them to emphasise the contrasts. Touch by touch, with red to bring out love, the large green lines of hope, the monotone ochre of the indispensable shadows or the white of the alleluias. The life of our Institute will form the base of this painting during the next four years. Negombo will be a new reference point on our journey. The sailboat, with its square and universal sail, has presided at the opening of the works of the Conference by indicating the direction of Asia. Today the Institute deploys its sails before the gusts of wind of the Spirit with the desire that it takes us to a good port, guided by the Virgin of Good Voyage who has presided at the departures of each of the brothers from the church at Duwa: Our Lady of Good Voyage.

Goodbye Negombo and Colombo, we remember the magnificent welcome that they reserved for the brothers. In leaving Sri Lanka we carry in our hearts the task of opening further the frontiers of the Institute ad gentes and to give a place to the laity in the mission, to consolidate the Marist journey towards God with a solid spirituality, sharing in solidarity what we have experienced with the brothers and those in need. All of this should form the beautiful multicoloured picture that we will realise together around Champagnat in the spirit of the Hermitage.

Rome, 1st October 2005. AMEstaún.

3922 visits