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Saints Simon and Jude, Apostles
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The representatives of eleven countries gathered together in Nairobi



Meeting of young people from the African continent with the Brother Superior General and his Council

05/12/2006: Kenya - Photo gallery

The “meeting of the General Council with young people of Africa” took place from the 25th to the 27th November as was planned in the calendar developed by the General Council for the pastoral animation visits to the Provinces of Marist Africa. The Brother Superior General and his Council wanted to be attentive to a group of young Africans to reflect, dialogue and share about their Christian life and Marist vocation today. Together, they tried to discover the current reality of Africa, to understand how the young African faces this reality, to share their role and commitment as young Christians in the African context and to respond to the reality of each country.

The convocation was addressed to the young people of the five Administrative Units in which the brothers are present on the African continent. The place of the meeting was a retreat house in Nairobi, run by the Salesians and situated a few kilometres from MIC amidst exuberant nature, specific of these lands of equatorial latitudes.

The young participants came from eleven countries corresponding to the following Marist Provinces: Southern Africa: Angola (2), Malawi (1), Mozambique (2), Zambia (2), Zimbabwe (1); East Central Africa: Kenya (13), Rwanda (6), Tanzania (6) ; Madagascar: Madagascar (1); Nigeria: Nigeria (2); District of West Africa: Ghana (1). The difficulties of transport, communication and resources were an important challenge for these Administrative Units who had to organise themselves so that these young people of Africa, invited by the Brother Superior General and his Council, could spend three days with them to listen to each other.

The young people felt “happy to participate in this meeting” where “Marist fraternity” was expressed towards them and the “simplicity of the participants”, according to their own testimonies made the slogan of the meeting effective. This slogan was proclaimed in Swahili: “Tushirikiane katika undugu” (Sharing fraternity). “I was moved to know that everyone had a similar reality and the same problems,” commented some of them. “I knew the reality of other countries which is spoken about in mine,” assured another.

The harsh reality of eleven countries, all marked by a great diversity of languages, of cultures and of traditions and some with serious aftermaths of war, was shared with simplicity and transparency. Brother Seán in his message, read at the end of the meeting, referred to these things: “With a simple and spontaneous language you have described an ensemble of personal challenges and challenges of your countries to which you need to give a face. Drugs, poverty, sexual conduct which does not respect the dignity of each person, violence, war, the corruption of governments and other instances, and the lack of possibilities.”

The discussions, the dialogue, the work in groups, the pooling in the plenary assembly, as well as the moments of free expression through drama, song or other dynamics gave the opportunity to each person to share his or her experiences and feelings. Despite all, several would have liked “more time for dialogue, for conviviality, to be able to express their opinions.” In their final evaluation they declared that “from now on we understand clearly where to start the improvement of Africa,” realising our work “united with our young Marist Brothers” in order to “construct the African continent rooted in its values” and to confront “the challenge of seeing one day this continent with better life conditions.” I saw, one of them said, that in Marist life “the doors are open.” And another concluded “My heart pushes me to follow the life of a Marist Brother.”

Brother Ernesto Sánchez, Director of the Bureau of Vocations, was helped by an efficient team composed in the following way: Coordinator: Brother Auxensio Dickson (Malawi); Vice-coordinator: Brother Albert Ongemba Yallo (D. R. Congo); Treasurer: Brother Adriano Safuanda (Angola); Logistics: Teodoro Grageda (MIC); Hosea Muguera (Kenya) and with the generous support of a group of scholastics from MIC.

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