Setting out again

A Certain Way

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Setting out again (1.3 MB)

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The first Marist mission outside of France was to be the vast ocean continent of the Pacific. From an early time, all the branches of the Marist family were involved in evangelisation there – and they still are. Today, there are other parts of the world where the different branches of the Marist Family are working, and sometimes closely together.

The huge continent of Africa, as immense in land as Oceania is in sea, is a good example of the Marist impetus to set out, to be present in an emerging Church, and then to set out again.

The extraordinary growth of Africa has few, if any, parallels in human history.

It is predicted, for example, that the population of Nigeria alone, at present at 100 million, will rise to 300 million by the year 2025. By that year the population of Africa will be equal to the total populations of Europe, the United States of America, Canada and all of Latin America.

Inevitably, Africa faces all the challenges common to rapidly growing countries: poverty, racial tension, unemployment, disease, the need for further education, for freedom from inferiority and superiority complexes, for the restoration of equal rights, and care for refugees. In fact, nearly half the world’s refugees are found in Africa. The growth of the Church in Africa parallels that of the population. At the beginning of the century there were perhaps 1 million Catholics in the whole of Africa.

Today Catholics number 80 to 85 million. At this time in its history, the Church is entering a new period of evangelization, a period which Pope John Paul II has referred to as “the hour of Africa”. Here clearly, there is a Church coming to birth or re-birth, and if Mary has indicated to Marists that she wishes to be the support of the Church “as it comes to birth”, here particularly is a place for men and women to bring to this emerging Church the attitudes of Mary, the believer most open to the Holy Spirit. Here is a Church seeking a “Marian face”.

Today in Africa there are 451 Marist Brothers, 15 Marist Sisters, 12 Marist priests and 12 Missionary Sisters of the Society of Mary, as well as strong groups of lay Marists.

Whether one talks of Africa, Oceania, Brazil, Peru, the Philippines or any part of the world, the story is the same: what fires men and women who are Marists to “set out and set out again” is the same thing that urged the pioneer Marists to set out to the margins of the Church and the world: they were convinced that Mary has called them to gather people everywhere into a new People of God.

The Mayet Memoirs

Father Colin spoke to the Marist of the Colege at Belley: “Come, take courage, see we are growing. have just replied to the Cardinal at Propaganda who has offered us the mission Kaffraria, asking him to be kind enough to live us time to pray so that we may not be ash…. Come, Gentlemen, let us pray that our Society may make Mary known and oved and may spread the Kingdom of God werywhere. Our Society? What am I saying? Let us pray that all Societies may promote the glory of God. But after all, we too have a little share of good to do.We must respond to our mission.”

– January 1842

Like the early church

A century after the first evangelisation and 30 years after independence, Africa is at the boiling point and dreams of a more just and democratic world. For us, one of the most difficult challenges is: “What type of religious missionary is needed for this new world Africa is hoping for?”

The rapidly growing demographic development is tearing apart the continent’s socio-economic and political fabric. The exodus from the countryside and all its corollaries flow from this break-up. The figures for urban growth in Africa published by the United Nations in 1991 show that in 15 years from now the proportion of the population living in the cities and towns will reach 47%.

This uprooting presents a picture of Africa in deep crisis.

Whether we like it or not, there is a real need to “build society” and a deep desire for change. It is at the intersection of this need and this desire that the mission of the Church and the mission of the Society has to be spelled out. The words of the Blessed Virgin: “I was the support of the newborn Church, and will be so again at the end of time”, may undoubtedly provide a basis and an encouragement for the development of the Society of Mary in Africa, like the early Church!

– Sylvestre Mulangwa Sangala, sm (Cameroon)

Marists in Africa

A Marist is not a specialist in devotion to Mary or in prayer to her. Nor is he recognised by certain things which he alone can do. He is neither a master nor a champion. He is an ordinary Christian. In simple terms, he tries to do everything he does the way Mary would, submerged among others, sharing their daily concerns, the most humble tasks they do.

– Alain Forissier, sm (Senegal)

One of the aspects of the Marist charism that I underline is the “Marian spirit”. My love for Mary helps me to embrace this aspect of our life. Our Family spirit also correspondswith the African extended family system which makes me feel at home with the Brothers.

– Francis Amoako Attah, fms (Ghana)

For the eight years that I have been with the Society of Mary, I have dreamed of a certain way of being and acting which sums up the spirit of that “hidden and unknown”. What Colin discovered and proposed to Marists is what draws my admiration. For me and for the Church today in Africa, it’s a programme, a way of salvation. It implies an immersion in one’s milieu of life and work in order to know it better, a great sensitivity and limitless availability. What could be better than to meet one or two people, or a community, who live like that! That’s what attracts me, that’s what I love.

– Paul Souga, sm (Cameroon)

With three Marist Missionary Sisters, I look after the direction of a Centre of Welcome for undernourished children. Each morning 400 mothers come to us. This suburb of Dakar has become the refuge forthousands of families forced here by the encroachment of the desert. On some days four or five children die. I never get used to that. Why am I here? What can I say? Certainly, here I see no improvement, no progress. The poor get more and more poor. Medicine is costly and wages, when there are any, are far too low. I do the best I can; God does the rest. Before coming to Africa I was in Latin America. My superior told me to come to Senegal. So, I’ve been missioned. Now I’m attached to the people. I doubt that I could be anything else.

– Sister Manuela, smsm (Senegal)

By the year 2000, I hope that Marist Africa will have taken its full place: in the Marist world, and will have become asource of support and help to the countries that brought us the Good News, and that now are being threatened by dechristianizstion.

– Jean-Baptiste Tamessuien,fms (Cameroon)

Missionary Sisters’ Constitutions

In complete availability, we are ready to leave our own country, to set out or set out again towards other people and other cultures, knowing that the Spirit precedes us – He whose gentle action is the source of evangelisation and who brings to birth in us the same Spirit He created in the hearts of our Pioneers.

Constitutions 16

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