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21 June

Saint Aloysius Gonzaga, Patron of Youth

Marist Calendar - June

Nairobi’s Formators’ Course concludes at the Hermitage



The Formators´ Course in Retrospect

07/07/2006: Kenya - Photo gallery

In calling together the Institute’s third Course for Formators the General Council gave as its primary aim: to prepare and send out formators, in response to the 20th General Chapter’s invitation to us to engage in a dynamic process of transformation, refounding and adaptation of the Institute. As we have travelled together these past eleven months we have carried this goal before us, even as we have felt how challenging such a goal is, yet also how urgently necessary it is.

It was a courageous and bold move to believe such a course was both possible, and of real significance and importance for the Institute. To bring 20 formators together from 16 different countries for 11 months is in itself a huge act of faith. The diversity of our ethnic, cultural, geographic, social, religious and formational backgrounds is enormous. For almost everyone, English was a second, third or fourth language. The contemporary contexts in which we are called to be formators are both widely different, and rapidly changing.

The journey has not always been easy, and nor have we been able to meet all the expectations and needs of each individual. Yet despite the differences and challenges we faced along the way we have been able to live and work together and keep our focus before us.

Several factors have worked together to help us keep this focus before us. Among these we could emphasise: our efforts to create a truly international community, and live in an atmosphere of trust, simple lifestyle, freedom and responsibility. The process of the course emphasised a participative approach to all we have undertaken. This included the process of the 23 workshops which were offered by a variety of presenters. We certainly could not go into every subject in all its depth, but we did seek to create a harmony between the content and process, and to enable each of us to apply it to our own respective Marist context.

Alongside the input and reflection exercises of the workshops we sought to deepen the integration of all we were experiencing through weekly accompaniment, regular community meetings, sharing in smaller “life groups”, some solidarity experiences with marginalised people in Kenya, and all of this being enriched by the quality of the community prayer and liturgy we have experienced.

The venues chosen for the course, Nairobi in Kenya –from August 2005 to May 2006-, and The Hermitage in France –June 2006- have contributed greatly towards helping us move towards the goals of this course.

In speaking to us towards the end of the course Br Sean Sammon invited us, formators to be ‘agents of change’ in bringing about the vision of who we are called to be as Marist brothers in the world of today. For this we need to develop a renewed culture for the initial and ongoing formation of every brother. To help bring this about the formator of today needs to have a deep passion for Jesus Christ, and be a living portrait of the Founder.

Our final workshop at the Hermitage on our Marist Patrimony brought home to us two challenging yet consoling insights for those called to be formators now and in the future. Marcellin Champagnat set out with almost no material resources and with candidates who seemed so lacking in the human and spiritual resources necessary for such a bold vision as he had. Yet he achieved what seemed humanly impossible because of his total trust in God, and his utter confidence that Mary would not let this work of hers in the Church fail. It is in this spirit we go forward in humility and hope from this Marist Brothers’ Course for Formators 2005 – 2006.

- Barry Burns, FMS
LHermitage - 30/06/06

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