Bicentenary: Province Gathering in the Hermitage
Sixty Brothers and lay people from the Province of West-Central Europe met in the Hermitage from 11th – 14th August for their Province Bicentenary Gathering. Earlier this year Brother Seán Sammon led a workshop for Brothers in the Province that focused on the Vatican Document on Brothers in the Church. The Province Bicentenary Gathering, entitled, “A Bridge into the Future,” focused on spirituality and mission. Brother Tony Leon led the opening liturgy, where he used the image of the river Gier. He named the various foundations that were part of the history of the Province, starting with the foundation in London in 1853 – the first foundation outside of France.
On Saturday, 12th August, Brother Don Bisson from the United States made presentations on spirituality, based on Jungian psychology, which provided an insightful and inspiring approach to Marist spirituality which struck a chord with many of the participants. Among other things he noted that “We cannot have a Marial charism which marginalizes women.” He referred to the number of women who are now involved in leadership positions in the Marist Institute at the present time.
The group visited La Valla on Sunday, 13th August where Brother Ben Consigli, also from the United States, invited the participants to reflect on the community dimension of the Marist charism. In the afternoon Brother Steve Schlitte, Principal of St. Michael’s Academy in New York, shared his own experience of meeting God in Marist mission. Fr. John Lumley, a priest who had been a scholastic with the Marist Fathers, presided at mass in Le Rosey. In his sermon he said that Mary and Marist values are at the core of the identity of all Marists.
The Gathering provided opportunities for people from the different countries of the Province to meet each other and build on friendships that had been established at previous meetings. There were opportunities for relaxation, as well as a wonderful final meal in a local restaurant. The Gathering was also the culmination of a series of meetings that have taken place in recent years, which have helped to build a bridge for a Marist future in the Province with increased involvement of lay men and women.
Brother Brendan Geary