Meeting of the European Marist NGOs
From October 5th till 7th representatives of European Marist Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) met in the General House in Rome, at the invitation of the Marist Foundation for International Solidarity (FMSI).
One of the participants from our Province was Brother Edgard Iserentant, who has sent the following report.
At the General Chapter in 1993, the Congregation decided to make itself heard at international level in defence of the rights of children. That led to the formation of BIS (International Bureau of Solidarity) in 1995. But we wanted to be officially recognised by the United Nations. Not that easy! In 2007, in Italy, the Marist Foundation for International Solidarity (FMSI) was created to replace BIS and was recognised in 2008 by the Italian Government as a non-profitmaking charity. It became a Non-Governmental Organisation, which eventually received United Nations recognition in 2011. The FMSI chose to locate itself in Geneva, the home of the “United Nations Council for Human Rights”. Is that not the best place to make oneself heard, and to plead for the rights of children across the world?
The meeting in Rome
FMSI has as its final objective, the creation of a network of all the Marist charitable activities across the globe. But firstly, we have to find out what is already happening. And so, Brother Manel Mendoza and Brother Mario Meuti, two members of FMSI, the former based in Geneva, the latter based in Rome, offered to organise meetings in the different continents. The meeting in Guatemala City (17th – 19th August) listed what already existed in the Americas at a NGO and Charitable Organisation level, to help children and the most poor.
Our meeting in Rome brought together delegates from different European Provinces. Our Province was represented by Brother Gerhard Ippisch and Mr Peter Dierl from “Missionsverein”, and Mrs Renate Hacker from “CMI Germany”, and Brother Roberto Di Troia and myself from “Oeuvres et Missions Maristes” from Genval in Belgium. Brother Douglas Welsh, who was unable to attend, sent a slide show on the project which his school in Dundee has in India.
After the presentation from the NGOs and Children’s Charities from the different Provinces (particularly from Spain!), the synthesis from the meeting in Guatemala City was presented to us. Could we join this “American” plan? Some lively reactions demonstrated that Europe is not the Americas. And the old continent will make its own plan with complete freedom.
Brother Manel and Brother Mario have still to organise similar meetings in Africa and in Asia-Pacific in 2016 to complete the tour of the “Marist world”. Be careful! Creating an international network of collaboration to help children and young people does not mean centralisation. The FMSI wants to know on whom and on what it can count to play a part in its diverse projects, aimed at helping children and young people to smile at life and to blossom. Isn’t that what we all desire!
Another article on this meeting has appeared at: