MINDELHEIM Two Workshops 26th – 30th October A truly Province experience
A short but intense course on spirituality presented by Brother Seán
On Friday 26th October, we were privileged to meet Brother Seán Sammon, former Superior General, who had agreed to travel from America where, among other things, he is Master of Novices.
This meeting comprised Brothers from every section of our West-Central European Province and it was, as always, a wonderful experience to meet up with them. They had come from Belgium, Germany, Holland, Great Britain, Ireland. We used the free time to catch up with our Brothers and chat about how we things had been since we last met a number of years ago.
On arrival we were greeted by Brother Michael Schmalzl who, with his team, had prepared everything to make a success of the occasion. He provided our accommodation and was always available to cater for our needs. We had the added advantage of being the first to use the newly built rooms which are of a very high standard.
In the course of our stay we were very fortunate to have a group of Brothers who organised the liturgy which reflected Brother Seán’s presentations. Of course, employing the languages of the different countries.
“Leaving and Coming Home; Christian Discipleship”
On the weekend of the 26thOctober, Marists from all over the Province gathered in Mindelheim for a workshop, entitled “Leaving and Coming Home: Christian Discipleship”. Sean Sammon led the workshop. In his workshop Sean reminded all of us that later life is a time to be thankful and grateful for our life’s experience. The challenge for each of us is to change our experience into wisdom. Such a piece of wisdom passed on from Sean was to let go of past hurts. We have all been hurt on our way through life and it is important to let this go. By contrast, he encouraged us to allow the Lord to look on us in love. He explained that adult discipleship is about struggling with the questions: How can I give my life away more meaningfully? How do I live beyond my own heartache and obsessions, so as to make other people’s lives more meaningful? These are just some of the challenges Sean offered the workshop participants.
The weekend was a useful time of personal reflection and celebration of being together as Province. The Mindelheim Community and co-workers, hosted the event in the newly built facility for young students. We had a great sense of Marist hospitality from everyone. They also managed to organise the first snow of the year for us! It is always good to find opportunities to come together as Province. This workshop had the best of ingredients: a stimulating and reflective workshop, with a great presenter; a wide variety of Marist participants and not forgetting, great accommodation and hospitality. Well done to all who participated and were involved in the organisation.
SUPPORTING OUR BROTHERS
This was the title of Brother Sean’s lectures. They dealt with the challenging issues concerning Brothers who have reached the latter stages of their lives, the difficulties inherent in this and how to cope with behaviour which can be a result of aging.
These included depression and anxiety, memory problems and coping with difficult behaviour. Seán, in his usual laconic style, suggested mechanisms for dealing with these difficulties and encouraged the leaders who were present to face up to any problems afflicting the elderly and to deal with them in a sympathetic but direct manner.
Seán also highlighted the importance of community meetings to deal with challenging issues. He suggested strategies to be considered by the leader before calling a community meeting. It was generally agreed that his ideas and comments on this topic were very valuable.
There were many other topics dealt with in the course of the sessions, too many to mention here. Many thanks to Seán for his spiritual and practical input, not least his wonderful anecdotes to illustrate a point. I am sure that we all left Mindelheim better equipped to deal with the elderly in our communities.
Brussels – Marist Meeting
In Brussels, on 4 September 2018, a meeting was held on the theme of safeguarding children, young people and vulnerable adults. There were thirteen Brothers in attendance.
Leading the meeting were Mgr Herman Cosijns, secretary of the Episcopal Conference and Madame Micheline Cara from the legal department of the Interdiocesan Centre.
The morning was dedicated to the policy put in place by the church in Belgium to respond to complaints lodged by victims of abuse committed by priests and religious.
There was a general discussion of the Church’s attitude in the past. Awareness of the gap between protecting the Institution and abandoning the victims had been highlighted. This has resulted in a fruitful collaboration between State and Church. Victims have been able to speak out and their suffering is taken into consideration.
The two facilitators, speaking about the present and the future, urged us to remain vigilant and to find ways of continuing to be so. They also congratulated the Marist Brothers for their courageous policy and for the writing of the booklet. They encouraged us to put what is written into practice so that it does not remain merely words on paper.
Other topical issues, such as the protection of personal data, were also discussed.
The Provincial, Brother Brendan Geary, thanked the leaders and the Brothers for a successful morning. On the basis of the discussions, actions already undertaken will create a safe and supportive environment for the good of all.