Meeting of the network of Marist communities of Europe
El Escorial, 8-12 August 2015
Three years ago, at the request of the Marist European Conference (CEM) and organised by the “Brothers Today” Commission, an initial meeting took place of Brothers from newly founded communities in the European Provinces. This second meeting followed the same structure as the first allowing Brothers, and lay people who are closely involved in their projects, to share their experiences, further discuss themes of common interest and to strengthen the link between them.
The theme chosen for this meeting was: “Celebrate the Joy of being Marists in an International Institute”. Brother Albert André represented our Province on the organising Team. Brothers Pol Grégoire, Maurice Godenir and Roger Davids from Malmedy, Roberto Di Troia and Albert André from Arlon (René Paulus was unable to attend due to ill-health) and Robert Thunus from Habay all participated.
On the 8th August we had our welcome and the personal introductions of the 37 participants, of whom 3 were couples.
The first day, after the morning Eucharist, we had private time for reflection on our lives so far, following the advice of Pope Francis: “To look at the past with gratitude”, and then we shared in small groups. The afternoon was set aside for the visit to the Royal Palace and the Monastery of El Escorial. Our Province ended the day with a Taizé style prayer vigil.
On the second day we were invited to: “Live the present with passion”. Each community described how they were trying to respond to each of the challenges for the future laid out by the International Mission Assembly in Nairobi in September 2014: Prophecy, Mysticism and Communion. After each topic we had the opportunity to share in small groups what had caught our attention. In this way, we were able to identify the dawning of a new era already present in the life of our communities. It was naturally in prayer that we could recall all these lived realities. At the end of the day, we were asked to watch “The Boy on the Bike”, a Belgian film, made by the Dardenne brothers, which portrays a young boy, abandoned by his father, but taken in by a woman. The face of a present-day young Montagne, whom lots of Marists have encountered in the course of their mission!
On the third day, we looked to the future: “Embrace the future with hope”. During the morning session, Brother Antonio Ramalho (Councillor General) helped us to see the convergence of the processes undertaken by the Institute in recent years, which will be the first signs of a “new beginning” which will coincide with the bicentenary of our foundation. The exchanges in the small groups once again allowed us to share our views.
Finally, before concluding the meeting, each Province shared their experience of the meeting. This was followed by the final Eucharist and a festive barbecue.
The participants suggested that in the coming months we visit each other’s communities to make this exciting Network of Communities more effective in the future.
Brother Robert Thunus
Another article on this meeting has appeared at http://www.champagnat.org/400.php?a=6&n=3694